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Baby Oil Mysteries - What Are Its Ingredients?

Ms. Inglish has 30 years experience in medicine, psychology, STEM instruction, history, and aerospace education for USAF Civil Air Patrol.

A HubPages reader asked the humorous question:

  • If corn oil is made from corn and vegetable oil from vegetables, what is baby oil made of?

The quick answer is:

  • No, baby oil is not made from babies. So, what are its ingredients?
What is the Hidden Answer?

What is the Hidden Answer?

Contents of the Product

Baby oils contain ingredients like some of those listed below that I have found in different brands of the product. I remember when baby oil that was available at the supermarket was always 100% mineral oil, packaged differently from that available in the pharmacy, and sold at a slightly higher price.

Customers likely thought that the product sold in the pharmacy was a different, higher grade of product. At the same time, people occasionally purchased plain mineral oil from the pharmacy or used petroleum jelly instead of the baby oil available. Then, with industrial progress, other ingredients began to be added to the baby oils.

A Scientific Answer

The cosmetics-grade mineral oil and petrolatum/petroleum jelly that we buy in many types of stores have been called the "safest, most nonirritating" moisturizers in existence according to the publications Cosmetics & Toiletries, January 2001, page 79; and Cosmetic Dermatology, September 2000, pages 44–46.

These elements keep some air from penetrating the skin, but this is necessary for a portion of the heckling process from burns and chaffing - especially in cases of dry skin. These elements of skin products have also proven effective in wound healing, according to Cosmetics & Toiletries, February 1998, pages 33–40.

In decades past on the farm in rural America, people sometimes used herbal remedies for diaper rash and dry skin. If nothing else was available, they even used lard, which would just as well as oils and hand lotions today, although with less of a pleasant scent.

In some countries, whale oil is used for skin protection, especially protection from high winds. In fact, the Indigenous peoples of Alaska and Northern Canada still use whale oil for these needs.

Did you know that farmers used to slice lard onto tomato sandwiches during harvest season?

Did you know that farmers used to slice lard onto tomato sandwiches during harvest season?

Baby Oil May Cause Side Effects

Not all babies or children and adults can tolerate baby oil o the skin. Some side effects include:

  • Burning or stinging sensations.
  • Redness, swelling or other irritation.
  • Whiteness and a soggy skin texture.
  • Skin infection.

If the side effects occur, call your pharmacist or physician right away. Allergies and side effects can be deadly.

Skin Care Emergencies

Using whale oil for health and beauty applications reminds me that honey and sugar were used on the farm to heal wounds. In isolated areas of our country, these ngredients are likely still used in emergencies, coupled with standard American Red Cross First Aid techniques.

In urban areas, hospitals send wound treatment mobile units out into lower income neighborhoods to help residents with chronic wounds that are not healing. This is particularly true of those with diabetes and those who are elderly. A number of techniques and treatments are used, as needed, including hospital-grade honey and probably a variety of lotions and oils as well.

Honey is hydroscopic, meaning it attracts water or moisture and helps to seal a wound. Many honeys are 80% sugar and 20% water. Honey is also antiseptic, killing bacteria. This leads me to think that honey was probably used at times to treat diaper rash.

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The old wives' tale that putting butter or oil on a burn helps is incorrect and and may do harm, such as causing infections. For a first degree burn, apply ice or cold water, or it will burn all the way to the bone. Afterward, maybe medicinal honey or with hazel can help the burn to heal, but ask your doctor to be certain.

Baby oil ingredients today.

Baby oil ingredients today.

Ingredients in Top Brands of Baby Oil

Soft and Silk Baby Oil

  • Mineral Oil, Aloe Vera Extract, Vitamin E, Acetate, Fragrance.

Johnson's Baby Oil, Lavender Scent

  • Mineral Oil, Fragrance

Burt's Bee Baby Bee Oil

  • Prunus armeniaca (apricot) kernel oil, vitis vinifera (grape) seed oil, tritium vulgare (wheat) germ oil, tocopheryl acetate, fragrance, tocopherol, rosmarinus officinalis (rosemary) leaf extract, glycine soja (soybean) oil, canola oil

Buddha Baby Oil

  • Prunus amygadulas dulcis (sweet almond) oil and Lavendula augustofolia (lavender) oil.

Baby Moon Oil

  • Lavender, tangerine and "other" essential oils, in sweet almond and olive oils.

A successful home recipe for baby oil from a friend:

Mix equal parts of apricot kernel oil, avocado oil, organic jojoba oil, vitamin E oil, lavender oil, mandarin orange oil. Store in a glass bottle.

Science Fun with Baby Oil


  • Cosmetic Dermatology, September 2000, pages 44–46.
  • Cosmetics & Toiletries, January 2001, page 79.
  • Cosmetics & Toiletries, February 1998, pages 33–40.

© 2008 Patty Inglish MS


Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on April 10, 2012:

Olive oil would be my first choice, but for chapped hands in winter and no time or way to go out in the snow, any cooking oil can help a little.

Just don't use oils to treat burns - no oils, no butter, no margarine; they do not work and can make infections happen faster. 1st degree burns need reduction in heat immediately with cool water and/or ice or ice cubes in a water bath. 2nd and 3rd degree burns need medical attention.

Mike on April 09, 2012:

Hi! Thanks for the information. I notice you dont mention olive oil (or i didn't see it metnioned at least). Do you know if any of the common cooking oils we all have at home are good for skin protection as well?

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on February 23, 2012:

Mineral oil is produced from mineral sources and sometimes this includes petroleum. Kerosene can also come from petroleum. Both mineral oil and kerosene can be distilled from petroleum.

soniya on February 22, 2012:

mineral oil means it kerosene its base

Rose Maria Rica D. Fuentes from Heaven on November 30, 2011:


Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on September 12, 2011:

Good question, lisa! I suggest examining all sorts of vegetable oils and find a substitute from one of those or a combination.

lisa on September 12, 2011:

patty what do you think can be used as a substitute for whales? doing a school project and very interested to know what will be good to use, i love oil but i love whales more.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on June 22, 2009:

Thanks Caryl! This was fun and informative at the same time, The best things always are imo. :) I'll try the Papaya cream in summer for dry skin. Sounds like it has a nice smell too.

Caryl Oliver from Australia on June 21, 2009:

This really did start off as a bit of a silly question that I thought would be a bit of fun, but what a rich vein of knowledge it has opened up!! Thanks Patty and the rest....

I use Papaya cream instead of chemicals as a deodorant.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on February 26, 2009:

Papaya oil is especially good as a hair conditioner, in my opinion.

michael on February 26, 2009:

can it be a papaya oil?

its my experement for our research....

can it be???????

2patricias from Sussex by the Sea on April 11, 2008:

I never knew any of this.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on February 15, 2008:

Indeed true. I don't use anything containing shark or whale squeezings, or ambergris or other wasteful products. In fact, I don't use any manufactured beauty products at all.

How many people look up this basic information? Not many. So, Americans slather petroleum on their babies with Johnson and Johnson's or the store brands and wonders at their health problems later on...

chantelg4 from Northern Ontario on February 15, 2008:

Any bottle that says mineral oil is just crude oil (black gue). What you gas up with, is what you put on your skin. You think it's sad for the whale, Sqalene is squeezed out of a shark's liver, and they are also an endangered species. It is used in a lot of skin care products manufactured by Unilever. However, they have announced they will discontinue this practice, but it's not regulated by the FDC.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on February 14, 2008:

O boy, what fun! :) :) heehee

Tony Sky from London UK on February 14, 2008:

Next time i oil myself down with baby oil i will be thinking of you Patty;)

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on February 14, 2008:

Hii Abhinaya, the oil from each animal or plant lifeform is a bit different. I have never seen whale oil up close. Cod liver oil is a lighter oil than some marine mammals' and fish oils, though. And a cod is a fish, smaller than a whale. The whale fat must be called blubber because it is so thick. I actually do not know if the whale oil is different from the melted blubber. It might be.

Maham - thank you for visiting.

maham on February 14, 2008:

nice hub

Abhinaya on February 14, 2008:

Patty I always love the pictures in your hub.This is great information.Is whale oil same as cod liver oil which sounds good for health when taken orally?

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on February 14, 2008:

Thank you Rapidwriter. This Hub was fun to do.

Rapidwriter from UK on February 14, 2008:

Fascinating as usual, Patty.  I really enjoyed it. And I really love the visuals.

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on February 13, 2008:

That makes me happy about so many fans, too, Z!

If whalers didn't catch too many and then waste them, or catch them and lie and say they dondn't, it would not be so tragic. The Native Americans used Bear Fat, you know. :)

Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on February 13, 2008:

Whale oil ??? I never knew that. How sad that our magnificent giants have die because a diaper rash...Super info Patty. Awesome picture of the whale...congrats on 302 fans

great hub regards Zsuzsy

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