Baby oil

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Baby oil is often used in the skin care of newborns.

Baby oil is, in general terms, an inert oil for the purpose of keeping skin soft and supple. It is often used on babies for the purpose of maintaining "baby-soft" skin, but it is also often used by adults for skincare and massage.

The skin of an infant, especially a premature one, is sensitive, thin and fragile. Its neutral pH on the surface significantly reduces the protection against excessive bacterial growth. The epidermis and dermis are thinner than those of adults and the epidermal barrier is not yet fully developed. Consequences can for example be dry skin, infections, peeling, blister formation and poor thermoregulation. The application of different oils to the skin of the newborn is routinely practiced in many countries. In general, these oils are used for cleansing, to maintain the skin's moisture and to protect its surface. Additionally, baby oil is used for the massage of newborns and as additive in lotions and creams.[1][2]


Ingredients of a baby oil product based on mineral oil with paraffinum liquidum, isopropyl palmitate and parfum.

Baby oils can be classified by the base formulation of the product. They are based on

Products based on mineral oil[edit]

Typical components of baby oils are the highly purified mineral oil products such as liquid paraffin (INCI name: paraffinum liquidum) and vaseline (INCI name: petrolatum). These compounds are odorless and tasteless, dermatologically tested and approved, not allergenic, hydrophobic and contain no pesticides or herbicides. Preservatives or antioxidants are not necessary, because in contrast to vegetable oils, there is no risk of rancidity with paraffins.[3] Nevertheless, the use of mineral oil in cosmetics is being criticized. Natural cosmetic companies claim that the use of mineral oil results in skin occlusion. Conventional cosmetic manufacturers and even dermatologists and cosmetic chemists argue against that and studies were not able to show any statistical difference between paraffin oil and vegetable oils in terms of skin penetration and skin occlusion.[4][5] On the contrary, petrolatum-based preparations have been shown to be effective to the skin barrier function, even in premature infants.[6]

Products based on vegetable oils[edit]

List of ingredients (INCI-code) of a baby oil based on vegetable oils

Vegetable oils are produced by plants with the highest concentration being present in seeds and fruits. About 95% of each vegetable oil is primarily composed of triglycerides. Coconut oil and palm oil contain mainly saturated fatty acids, while other oils largely contain unsaturated fatty acids, for example oleic acid and linoleic acid. Accompanying substances in vegetable oils are, inter alia, phospholipids, glycolipids, sulfolipids, squalene, carotenoids, vitamin E, polyphenols and triterpene alcohols.[7] To avoid rancidity, preservatives or antioxidants are added to baby oils based on vegetable oils.[3] On cosmetic products, these oils are listed according to the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI), e.g.:[8]

Vegetable oils are not to be confused with essential oils, both being sourced from plants.[7]


Baby oils are largely used as skin care products and their principle use remains as skin moisturizers. In particular, baby oils find application in the treatment of various skin diseases like atopic dermatitis, xerosis, psoriasis and other eczematous conditions.[7] Another area of use is the oil massage of the newborn which has been a tradition in India and other Asian countries since time immemorial. [2]


  1. ^ Chiabi, Andreas; Kenmogne, Maguerite Hortence; Nguefack, Seraphin; Obadeyi, Bolaji; Mah, Evelyne; Meka, Franck Zeh; Tchokoteu, Pierre-Fernand; Mbonda, Elie; Ekoe, Tetanye (December 2011). "The empiric use of palm kernel oil in neonatal skin care: Justifiable or not?". Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine. 17 (12): 950–954. doi:10.1007/s11655-011-0938-1. ISSN 1672-0415. PMID 22139548.
  2. ^ a b Kulkarni, Anjali; Kaushik, Jaya Shankar; Gupta, Piyush; Sharma, Harsh; Agrawal, R. K. (September 2010). "Massage and touch therapy in neonates: The current evidence". Indian Pediatrics. 47 (9): 771–776. doi:10.1007/s13312-010-0114-2. ISSN 0019-6061.
  3. ^ a b Grigorow, Irina (December 2009). "Babyhaut und ihre Pflege". Pädiatrie & Pädologie (in German). 44 (6): 12–15. doi:10.1007/s00608-009-0177-2. ISSN 0030-9338.
  4. ^ "Leserfrage – Paraffin in Kosmetik – Meldung – Stiftung Warentest". Stiftung Warentest (in German). Retrieved 2018-11-21.
  5. ^ Stamatas, Georgios N.; de Sterke, Johanna; Hauser, Matthias; von Stetten, Otto; van der Pol, André (May 2008). "Lipid uptake and skin occlusion following topical application of oils on adult and infant skin". Journal of Dermatological Science. 50 (2): 135–142. doi:10.1016/j.jdermsci.2007.11.006. ISSN 0923-1811. PMID 18164596.
  6. ^ Adam, Ralf (July 2008). "Skin Care of the Diaper Area". Pediatric Dermatology. 25 (4): 427–433. doi:10.1111/j.1525-1470.2008.00725.x. ISSN 0736-8046. PMID 18789081.
  7. ^ a b c Sarkar, Rashmi; Podder, Indrashis; Gokhale, Narendra; Jagadeesan, Soumya; Garg, Vijay K. (19 April 2017). "Use of vegetable oils in dermatology: an overview". International Journal of Dermatology. 56 (11): 1080–1086. doi:10.1111/ijd.13623. ISSN 0011-9059. PMID 28421610.
  8. ^ Personal Care Products Council - International Buyers' Guide