Liquid Paraffin for Stretch Marks – Golden Ingredient or Potential Threat?

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I’ve heard many people use liquid paraffin for stretch marks, and since this is quite a controversial subject, I wanted to do an article covering this topic. Should you be using liquid paraffin on your skin? And if not, why not?

In this article, I’ll be examining the science of using liquid paraffin for the skin to provide you with an unbiased and final answer.

What is Paraffin?

Liquid paraffin, also known as paraffinum liquidum, or sometimes as liquid paraffin wax, is a highly refined mineral oil commonly used in skincare products as a cleansing and hydrating agent. It is derived from petroleum but heavily purified in the process so that the end product has very little in common with the original petroleum.

It can also be used on its own to treat various dry skin conditions, such as eczema.

Why Is Liquid Paraffin Considered Good for Skin? Why Do They Put Paraffin in Cosmetics?

The first and most important benefit is that it aids in moisturizing the skin and makes most products more slippery and easy to spread and for your skin to absorb. It also acts as a thin layer of protection, sitting atop of your skin and protecting it from various harmful chemicals, bacteria, etc. This protective barrier also helps isolate your skin from external allergens, such as dust, toxins, etc., which might make your stretch marks itchy.

But Is Liquid Paraffin Safe? What Are the Side Effects?

Now, this is a highly debated subject, with many, many skincare experts advising against the use of liquid paraffin (which is often seen on ingredient lists as mineral oil) on your skin. Why?

First of all, liquid paraffin is obtained after a long and extensive refining process, during which it is exposed to various unhealthy chemicals, such as bleach. As a result, liquid paraffin can end up contaminated by these very chemicals and pose a health hazard.

Second, we need to consider what other ingredients the manufacturer adds to the paraffin. Even when advertised as a stand-alone product, it often contains other ingredients, like preservatives or fragrance that make it more commercial (e.g., make it smell nicer, feel nicer, etc.). All of these other ingredients have also been linked with skin irritations. Some are even believed to be potential carcinogens – a big reason to keep your distance.

Speaking of which, paraffin has also been linked with cancer since it may or may not be contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, a well-known carcinogen.

Yet another danger of paraffin is that it sits on top of the skin, trapping just as much dirt as it does moisture, so once again, that increases the risk of irritation. It’s also been known to clog pores since the greasy product isn’t absorbed properly and blocks the skin, as it were.

Lastly, paraffin can be a fire hazard when absorbed into your clothing. So all in all, plenty of reasons not to use it.

Which brings us to our conclusion…

Should I Use Liquid Paraffin for Stretch Marks?

No. Mineral oils are not recommended for use in skincare for the reasons above. They’re even more discouraged during pregnancy since it can cause hemorrhagic disease in your child, as it impairs vitamin K absorption.

Personally, I would stick to products that don’t contain mineral oil as an ingredient (and definitely wouldn’t use the stuff on its own). So steer clear of this one and look for healthy products from natural sources, such as cocoa butter, Aloe Vera, and other derived products, to moisturize your skin and help heal your stretch marks.