In our opinion, traditional baby oil is one of the most ill-conceived personal products ever produced.
Baby oil is simply mineral oil or liquid petroleum derived from black crude oil with an added synthetic fragrance. It is a by-product of petroleum in the process to make gasoline.
Proponents of mineral oil or baby oil will tell you that it helps to prevent moisture loss by providing an occlusive barrier to the skin. There is no doubt it provides an occlusive barrier to the extent of completely blocking pores. As science tells us the main functions of the skin is respiration and elimination (toxins). The skin needs to breath to heal, actually our skin needs to breathe for us to survive. Mineral oil does not moisturize as many would believe, in fact despite the initial silky feeling on the skin, it will strip away the hydro-lipid layer of this skin requiring use of more product due to continued dryness.
A baby’s skin is very porous because it has not developed to the same extent the hard outer keratinized thorny layer of the skin called the epidermis (this accounts for that amazing soft skin that babies have). The epidermis is the part of the skin that helps prevent materials from entering through to the dermis (deep layer of the skin) and into the bloodstream. Babies actually have the same number of pores as adults, just condensed to a much smaller surface area.
I would recommend if possible not using any product on a newborn, at least for the first couple of months. When dealing with diaper rash or other types of rash, first try a spot test of a plant-based butter or oil. We would suggest olive oil, rosehip seed oil or argan oil and let the area air dry. Plant-based ingredients will soak into the skin, moisturize and allow the skin to breathe and heal. Plant-based moisturizers have a bio-affinity with human skin and act in a way that our cells respond to.
We know that mineral oil/baby oil is not a healthy choice for the human body or the environment (unsustainable and not biodegradable) so why is it still being sold, and why do companies insist on using it? The answer is cheap–cheap-cheap. Yes… it is almost the cheapest raw material in personal care.