Baby oil is a wonderful product formulated for baby’s sensitive skin. Baby oil is nothing but perfumed mineral oil. There is lot of discussion and debate on the health benefits vs side effects of baby oil. One can also make a :completely natural” baby oil at home itself. Baby oil has a long and rich history, going through many changes over the years. Baby oil is not just for babies, it is actually very useful. It can be used before shaving, after shaving, to moisturise the skin, make hair smooth and for sensitive skin. Besides personal application, one can also use for many things around the house.
( Photo courtesy : jbird )
Regular Baby oil is composed of the following ingredients.
- Mineral oil – this is an oil obtained from petroleum which is actually fine for the skin. Mineral oil is light, colorless and has no odor. It is also known as liquid paraffin. This is chemically similar to paraffin wax.
- Aloe vera extract – this is a concentrated form of aloe vera gel. It may be processed to remove out certain chemicals which might be allergic to baby’s skin.
- Vitamin E – this is added because Vitamin E is great for skin. It is an antioxidant and protects the skin from free radical damage.
- Vitamin A – This is mainly the “retinol” form of Vitamin A which is a common ingredient in many skin creams. Vitamin A is used to treat common skin problems like dry skin and chapped lips. In higher concentrations though, Vitamin A has a strong drying effect on skin, which is made use of in treating acne . Topical retinoid creams are used to dry skin to lower oiliness of skin, which reduces the severity of acne.
- Honey – Baby oil may contain processed honey. In this form, honey is not harmful to babies. Although, babies should not be given honey to eat unless they are above 1 year old because of the risk of infant botulism. Honey is mainly used for its antiseptic properties.
- Other ingredients – there are many other ingredients in smaller proportions. These are natural and artificial aromatic compounds, emollients and other substances.
( Photo courtesy : Angela mabray )
These are the ingredients of baby oil products that are not 100 % natural and organic. Now, there are many companies producing and selling 100 % natural baby oil. This oil comprises of the following ingredients.
- Carrier oil – usually coconut oil, olive oil or jojoba oil. Sometimes, sweet almond oil may be used.
- Beeswax – used to add a thicker consistency to oil.
- Useful essential oils – gentle and more mellow essential oils are used in baby oil product. Some of them come from lavender, tangerine, calendula.
- An oil for Vitamin E – generally wheat germ oil is chosen for this purpose.
( Photo courtesy : maong )
These ingredients are mixed in proper proportions to create an oil consistency and also ensure that essential oils are well below the concentration where they might be irritating. Since many people do not prefer putting mineral oil on their baby’s skin, they go for “organic” baby oil.
Baby Oil Uses
Although the major use of baby oil is to keep the baby’s skin well moisturized and heal dry skin issue. It also acts as mild antiseptic. But, there are many more uses for baby oil for kids and adults.
1. Baby Oil in Hair
Baby oil can be used in hair to make them smooth and really very silky. However it is really quite oily and often thicker than regular hair oils. So, do not use lots of it. This is a hair treatment that you can do once a fortnight.
Warm the baby oil slightly. Massage it into hair shafts and even the scalp if you feel like. Cover it with a shower cap. Let it sit overnight. Next morning, wash it over many times with alternate cold and warm water. This helps to remove much of the oil and keep only as much as hair want. This leaves hair much smoother and they don’t tangle.
( Photo courtesy : mark_wheadon )
2. Baby Oil for Skin
Baby oil has got numerous applications in keeping skin healthy and protected.
- In very cold climate – If the weather is cold and skin starts to feel numb, then apply baby oil. It provides an extra layer of heat insulation, so cold temperatures are not able to affect the skin much.
- Heal heel cracks – Rub baby oil for a few days. Better still, apply baby oil and then wear socks over it. Makes your feet extra smooth.
- Heal scaling, flaky skin – Most of us have to deal with flaky skin in winter. Use baby oil and there is no need to worry about flakiness.
- Dry skin under the eyes – Many times we may suffer from dry skin under the eyes. This usually happens when under eye starts shedding during its normal period of exfoliation. Apply baby oil to keep the new, delicate skin protected.
- Remove makeup – It may not be as effective as castor oil, but it works too.
- After shaving oil – Use baby oil on shaved skin to reduce irritation and make it smoother. It works for men and women both.
3. Baby Oil as a Lubricant
It can be applied on machine parts in the house to make them function better. Avoid using this on kid’s toys as the kid might put it in his or her mouth. Baby oil may be harmful when ingested, even in small amounts.
4. Other Uses for Baby Oil
- Stretch marks – It may prevent stretch marks, but only to some extent. Coconut oil is more powerful at this.
- Untangle a necklace
- Earwax – It can be used to remove ear wax from the ears. However, make sure you don’t put too much.
- Peeling a bandage ( without losing hair ) – Many times it can be difficult to remove a bandage. Apply some baby oil on the edges of the bandage. As you unroll the bandage, keep applying the baby oil to get it through.
- Clears baby diaper rash – Try applying baby oil on a diaper rash after making the skin absolutely dry. Otherwise, try cornstarch. That works great. 
- Shoe polish – Are you out of shoe polish ? Apply some baby oil. Do not apply it directly. Put a few drops on a cotton cloth and use that to polish the shoes. It works on other leather products. But, do not use it for prolonged amount of time.
- Polish counter-tops and stone products : Wipe baby oil on counter-tops to get a clean, gleaming surface.
- Cradle cap no more – baby oil should be used on cradle cap. It helps to get rid of those scaly patches. 
- Stuck zippers – If the zipper is not moving freely, apply a small amount of baby oil on the tracks and the zip. Now try and work it out. If this doesn’t help, use candle wax.
- Regular massage – Use baby oil for a quick massage. You may also use coconut oil, or olive oil or any other massage oil. Baby oil too does a fine job.
- Add it in the bath-tub – Put a few drops in bathwater just when you are about to finish bathing. It makes skin extra smooth.
- Cool a heated device – Instead of putting water on something that is blazing hot, use baby oil. Water is definitely going to break it up. Mineral oil in baby oil is actually used as an industrial lubricant. You can use it to lubricate handles, and devices at your home.
- Remove tattoos – Well, only the temporary tattoos can be removed by rubbing baby oil on that. The organic compounds in this oil can dissolve away the ink in that tattoo. Much better than water.
- Kitchen cutting board – With time, the wood looses its shine and texture. Use baby oil on that kitchen cutting board to make it as good as new.
- Polish the crown molding and pipes – Baby oil can also remove spots and dirt from crown molding and other PVC products. This improves the overall look of a house, both exteriors and interiors.
- To take out insect larvae – A few weeks I read about a strange fly in Africa called the Mango fly. It is a dangerous fly which bites a person and also lays eggs inside the skin. So, within a few weeks, these eggs hatch and their tiny larvae sustain in our skin. They breathe in through the puncture ( hole ) made by the insect bite. The movement and feeding of larvae causes intense pain. When the larvae get big enough, the local people use a home remedy to pull it out without major surgical procedure. They pour baby oil on the insect bite. The larvae ( which is now a small fly itself ) feels suffocated. Gasping for breath, it comes up and then the nurse picks it up firmly. It is dragged out of the skin, all the while causing sharp pain. But it is taken out.
- Soothe insect bites – Baby oil is mildly anti-inflammatory. It reduces swelling in mosquito bites and other insect bites.
5. Baby Oil For Acne
Although people suffering from acne may be apprehensive about applying baby oil on acne prone skin. But, according to this source  , mineral oil is Non-Comedogenic. That means, baby oil is not capable of clogging pores on the skin. So, one can freely use it in home made acne skin care products. It can also be applied directly onto the skin.
6. Baby oil for Tanning
A quick workaround to get tanned skin is to add few drops of 2 % iodine ( tincture iodine ) to baby oil. The oil takes on a darker color. Massaging this oil on skin makes it look tanned. However, the safety of this regimen is not evaluated. Regular application of iodine on skin may be harmful, but not when applied infrequently it is generally safe. However, this oil does not remove skin hair.
One can get results that are quite similar to tanning beds.
Side Effects and Safety Issues
Mineral oil is generally safe for the skin of a baby or an adult. There are anecdotal references which predict that mineral oil may be harmful for the human body. However, few studies are on this subject. This one states that mineral oil is safe. The complete in depth safety analysis of mineral oil is required.
For the time being, we can assume mineral oil to be safe.
1. Vitamin A in skin and serum–studies of acne vulgaris, atopic dermatitis, ichthyosis vulgaris and lichen planus. Rollman O, Vahlquist A. NCBI.
2. Skin care for your baby. NCBI.
3. Comedogenic Ratings – Beneficial Botanicals.
4. A toxicological review of topical exposure to white mineral oils. Nash JF, Gettings SD, Diembeck W, Chudowski M, Kraus AL.