Is Hydrogenated Oil In Skin Care Products Bad For You?

Image courtesy of bantransfats.com

While hydrogenated oil is increasingly included in skin care products, there is no conclusion about its effects on human skin. My knowledge about hydrogenated oil applied to skin is also limited, but I hope that the following analysis is helpful for you to decide whether you would like to put hydrogenated oil on your skin.

People try to avoid hydrogenated oil primarily because partial hydrogenation generates trans fats, and trans fats have a series of negative health implications. In fact, the hydrogenated oil we encounter is almost always partially hydrogenated, so pretty much all hydrogenated oils have trans fats. Even products marketed as “zero grams trans fats per serving” can have trans fats as long as the trans fat content is up to 7% by weight. And that is already after the hydrogenated oil is mixed with other types of fat. Therefore, unless the hydrogenated oil is labeled as “completely hydrogenated”, which makes all fats saturated, it has trans fats. But when trans fats are applied to skin, it is different from when it is ingested. Then could it possibly cause some undesired effects?

Unfortunately, it takes a long time to demonstrate the long-term effects of an ingredient. We cannot draw a conclusion yet. Theoretically, trans fats affect lipids. And lipids in the skin are essential to skin health. So the possibility of interactions cannot be denied. For example, the skin has a cascade of desaturation processes, namely, converting saturated fats to unsaturated, and converting unsaturated fats to highly unsaturated. If we apply unsaturated oils, such as safflower oil and sunflower oil, we constrain the process of converting saturated fat to unsaturated. This makes sense in a way that we have supplemented the unsaturated oil to our skin. But if we put on trans fats, the process of converting unsaturated fat to highly unsaturated fat will be inhibited. This can be a concern because it alters the process without supplementing the substance that is expected as the result of this process. This is much more irregular compared with that of natural fats although we do not know whether this causes problems.

The connection between trans fats and cancer risks is still in debate. Some European studies, however, have demonstrated positive associations between trans fats and breast cancer. With more fat tissue to deposit undesired substances, breasts are subject to cancer. As I have pointed out, skin also has fat, so there is a possibility that trans fats can increase skin cancer risks. We are waiting for such tests.

Another consideration of using hydrogenated oil in skin care products is that common production of hydrogenated oil requires metal catalysts. There can be metal residues in hydrogenated oil. Of course, skin care products containing other industrially produced ingredients can also have tons of bad residues. But hydrogenated oil is commonly used in natural and high-end skin care products. So if you are using natural skin care products, you may not be far away from bad residues if the product contains hydrogenated oil.

After all, no product is pristine. The decision is ultimately yours. I would say that hydrogenated oil risks are comparable to parabens. Whether you are going to use skin care products with hydrogenated oil depends on how much you want to shun away from unnatural and risky ingredients.

References
Selective effects of isomeric cis and trans fatty acids on fatty acyl delta 9 and delta 6 desaturation by human skin fibroblasts.
Adipose tissue trans fatty acids and breast cancer in the European Community Multicenter Study on Antioxidants, Myocardial Infarction, and Breast Cancer.
Association between serum trans-monounsaturated fatty acids and breast cancer risk in the E3N-EPIC Study.

1 comment to Is Hydrogenated Oil In Skin Care Products Bad For You?
  • Eco

    […] problem is, the hydrogenation process generates trans fats. And we know from research in foods that trans fats are not good for us when consumed. But what […]

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