Relevant contaminants in consumer goods and cosmetic products

Due to their consistency-giving properties, their low allergenic potential and their high skin tolerance, mineral oils are used in a variety of cosmetic products such as, lip care cosmetics, skin and hair care products, body lotions and baby oil. According to the EU cosmetics regulation (EU) No. 1223/2009, mineral oils are only permitted in cosmetics if the full refining history is known and the starting material is not carcinogenic, or if the distillate was tested using specific methods (BfR, 2018). Despite the high degree of refinement of the raw materials, cosmetics containing mineral oils have been recently criticized for containing substances analogous to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), whereof some are known carcinogens.

Furthermore it is known that mineral oils extracts are increasingly absorbed into UV-irradiated skin. Due to the formation of redox-active quinones, the photolytic fragmentation of aromatic compounds and the increased dermal membrane permeability, some severe cell damage can occur.

In cooperation with the central laboratory for cosmetic products of the Chemical and Veterinary Research Office (CVUA) Karlsruhe, MOAH fractions are obtained using complex separation processes (LCxGC). The extracts are then tested for their (photo) toxic potential on human keratinocytes. Various cytotoxicity studies, gene expression analyzes and mutagenicity tests are available for evaluating possible adverse effects of aromatic mineral oil hydrocarbons on human skin.