Is Mineral Oil Bad For Hair?

When trying to keep your hair healthy and looking good you may wonder is mineral oil bad for hair.

Many oils have multiple benefits for our hair, so read on to find out if mineral oil can help or hinder your locks.

Mineral oil is also known as liquid paraffin. It has been used in beauty products, creams, and lotions for many years. When used in your hair it is said to help those suffering from frizz, dandruff, and dry hair. Mineral oil however can have side effects such as skin irritation and does not penetrate the hair shaft like natural oils.

To find out both the benefits and the downsides of using mineral oil in your haircare regime, keep reading to make an informed choice in the future.

Is Mineral Oil Bad For Hair?

The number of different oils available to use on your hair can be quite overwhelming.

It is good to remember that all oils are not the same, and that mineral oil acts quite differently from natural vegetable oils.

Mineral oil is also known as liquid paraffin.

If you are wondering what is mineral oil made of, it is made from fossilized plant material that has lain untouched for very many years.

There are many answers to what is mineral oil for hair, and gaining this knowledge will help you decide which oils are best for your hair.

There are three main types of mineral oil:

  • Paraffinic Oils
  • Naphthenic Oils
  • Aromatic Oils

If you are questioning is mineral oil good or bad for hair, then knowing more about the differences between these three mineral oils will help you to make an informed choice.

Keep in mind that none of the following sound particularly great for your hair though!

However, there are many proponents of using mineral oils, and it is the paraffinic oils that you will normally find in products recommended for your hair (source 1,2):

Paraffinic Oils

These oils are used in the tyre, engine, and paper industries.

It is also widely used in the cosmetic industry.

The high viscosity of paraffinic oils make it perfect for lubrication.

Naphthenic Oils

Unlike paraffinic oils, naphthenic oils do not contain paraffin wax.

Also unlike paraffinic oils, their viscosity is low, and they are mainly used in metalworking fluids.

Aromatic Oils

Used in the processing of rubber compounds aromatic oils are used in the tyre industry.

Although their name suggests that they may be used to make products smell pleasant this is definitely not the case.

Pros And Cons Of Using Mineral Oil On Hair

Mineral oil uses and benefits are widely discussed when trying to find alternatives to commercially available products.

If you are interested in why mineral oil is bad for hair, or simply the pros and cons of using mineral oil on hair, read the list below to gain a better idea of whether mineral oil is for you or not.

Below are the main benefits of mineral oil for hair.

1. Frizz

If you put mineral oil in your hair it will cover the hair shaft and hold in the moisture that you have put into your hair.

It will also keep out excess moisture from the environment and will therefore help to reduce the likelihood of your hair becoming frizzy, especially in a humid environment.

2. Shine

Like any oil, adding mineral oil to your hair will improve your hair’s shine.

Shiny hair looks healthy, and applying oil will help make your hair look great.

3. Barrier

Mineral oil coats your hair shaft and can act as a barrier against environmental pollutants that can damage your hair.

If you are traveling in a very polluted area and are worried about pollution having a negative effect on your hair, then a spray of mineral oil will keep your hair in tip-top condition.

With the mineral oil barrier applied, washing out anything that has come into contact with your hair will be an easy task.

4. FDA Approved

Knowing that a product is FDA-approved can give you confidence that you are doing the best for your hair and general health.

5. Tangles

Because oil used in hair products has a high viscosity it can help you to untangle your hair without breaking it in the process.

The knots will almost untangle themselves just with finger manipulation and tugging at your hair with a hairbrush could be a thing of the past.

6. Dandruff

There has been advice that mineral oil can be good for those who suffer from dandruff and dry scalps.

It is said that mineral oil can be left for an hour on your scalp and help to improve the moisture content and thereby lessen dandruff.

There is little/no scientific evidence to confirm this, although if your dandruff is bad then it is worth a try to see if it works for you.

Always do a skin test first to make sure you are not allergic.

Although there are benefits to your hair of using mineral oil, there are also cons of mineral oil for hair.

Below are the downsides to putting mineral oil in your hair:

1. Temporary

Mineral oil sits on top of your hair rather than penetrating deep inside as other oils can.

This means that as soon as you wash your hair again you lose any benefit that you gained by using the oil.

2. Irritation

Leaving mineral oil on your scalp for too long can lead to irritation and an itchy scalp.

3. Drying

Because mineral oil seals moisture within your hair and does not allow other products, including moisture, to penetrate, then if your hair is already dry, mineral oil can make dryness far worse.

4. Build-Up

We all know that build-up on your hair and scalp is not a good thing.

Unfortunately, mineral oil can easily cause build-up if not removed thoroughly and can lead to all types of scalp problems and poor hair growth.

5. Hair Loss

Many people ask does mineral oil cause hair loss.

In itself, mineral oil is quite safe and has been approved by the FDA.

However, as it is prone to increasing build-up and blocking scalp pores, hair loss and lack of growth can be a side-effect of its use if used too much or not washed out thoroughly.

6. Nutrition

Unlike other oils such as coconut oil, mineral oil does not add any nutrients to your hair.

There are no vitamins, no minerals, and no anti-oxidant properties in mineral oil. If you want to add these then mineral oil is not for you.

Side Effects Of Mineral Oil On Hair

As with every product, there are possible side effects.

If you are wondering can you use mineral oil on hair without experiencing side effects, then read on.

These are the most common side effects of mineral oil use (source 1):


Although mineral oil can help protect your hair from moisture loss, using it too much can lead to the opposite effect.

Lack Of Growth

If you do not thoroughly remove mineral oil from your hair and scalp then it can lead to a lack of growth as your follicles may be covered and this may limit growth.


Using too much oil can lead to your hair looking limp and greasy as the oil can weigh your hair down.

Scalp Problems

Especially if it is left on too long, mineral oil can cause scalp irritation and itchiness in some people.

It can also disrupt the delicate scalp biome and lead to dandruff and other scalp problems.


As mineral oil can hinder hair growth in some circumstances, your hair can become thin looking and more difficult to style than you would like.


Mineral oil sits on top of the hair and is said not to effectively penetrate the hair shaft.

As such its effects can only last whilst it is on your hair and any gains will be removed once you wash your hair.

Does Mineral Oil Damage Hair?

Mineral oil has many benefits for your hair.

However, like most products, it is not right for everyone, and some people will experience all of the possible side-effects and few of the suggested benefits.

If you use mineral oil sparingly and not too frequently you may experience benefits such as lack of frizz and increased shine.

However, overuse, or not removing efficiently can lead to dry hair and potentially lack of growth and increased breakage.

Is Mineral Oil Good For Hair Growth?

You may be wondering does mineral oil stop hair growth, or is it actually good for hair growth.

There are many conflicting reports as to whether mineral oil is good for your hair.

The effectiveness of mineral oil will really depend upon your hair type and how often you intend to use it.

As mineral oil restricts external moisture being integrated into the hair shaft this could reduce hygral fatigue in hair.

This may mean that your hair appears thicker and just like your hair has actually grown more.

Mineral oil can be used to improve the moisture levels in your scalp.

As a healthy scalp will promote hair growth, mineral oil may help your hair grow as well as nature intended (source 1).

How To Remove Mineral Oil From Hair

It used to be the norm to remove mineral oil by using a sulfate-containing shampoo.

The number of people wishing to move away from commercially available shampoos due to their sulfate content has increased.

Consequently, new ranges of sulfate-free clarifying shampoos have become available.

Therefore, with a little bit of research, you can still use a clarifying shampoo to remove oil and build-up from your hair, including mineral oil.

If you want to use a fully natural method then using a combination of baking soda and apple cider vinegar will also have a similar effect.

It is a combination wash used by many people who do not wish to use commercially available shampoo products in their hair.

Best Mineral Oil For Hair?

If you are interested in using mineral oil for your scalp and hair but are not sure which one is best, then look no further.

When choosing your mineral oil/liquid paraffin, make sure that it is designed for use on your hair and scalp.

Below is one of the best-rated mineral oils on

Swan Oil

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If your scalp is dry and itchy, this mineral oil is well-regarded and may help improve your scalp health.

It also has many other benefits and is just a great all-around oil.

Mineral Oil Vs Coconut Oil For Hair

Without going deeply into the science of why each oil has its properties, the basic understanding is that coconut oil penetrates into your hair.

Mineral oil on the other hand sits on top of the hair and so does not benefit the hair in the same way that coconut oil can.

Another difference is that coconut oil contains anti-oxidants and fatty acids that can be of benefit to the health of your hair.

Mineral oil contains no such benefits.

Basically, if you want to nourish your hair deeply, then coconut oil is the one to choose, whilst if you only need a surface treatment, then mineral oil will do the trick (source 1,2).


This article has outlined the pros and cons of mineral oil, and shined a light on the question – is mineral oil bad for hair?

Using mineral oil carefully for surface hair problems, and occasional scalp help may help. However, you need to bear in mind that it is a temporary solution.

If you want to provide your hair with deeply penetrating vitamins, minerals, and moisture, then other oils will give you better results.

Related Questions

Is Mineral Oil Good For Baby Hair?

Mineral oil is often called baby oil and has not been scientifically found to be harmful to baby hair (source 1).

Is Mineral Oil Bad For Black Hair?

Mineral oil can be beneficial to all hair types if used in moderation and fully removed after the recommended time.

Does Mineral Oil Cause Cancer?

If you are wondering about mineral oil for hair, or cancer scare stories, then rest assured that reputably sourced mineral oil is FDA approved.

Does Mineral Oil Penetrate Hair?

Mineral oil does not penetrate hair in the same way that natural oils like coconut and olive oil do. It tends to sit on top of the hair and is good for preventing frizz.

Katrina Stewardson

Hello! My name is Katrina Stewardson, and I've been obsessed for almost ever with discovering the best natural hair methods for my own hair. For years I longed for one website to tell me everything I needed to know about the amazing No Poo Method movement. I just couldn't find one though, so I decided to create it myself! I dearly hope this website will save all you lovely ladies (and gents!) from wasting hours scrolling the internet looking for natural hair-related information like I did.

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