Baby oil has been on the market for more than 100 years and has long been a staple in the nurseries of new parents. It’s a clear liquid made out of petroleum-based mineral oil and fragrance.

According to Johnson & Johnson, baby oil can be applied to a baby’s skin before a massage. It can also help ease a baby’s dry skin, especially if it’s applied when the skin is already damp with water, such as after a bath.

Baby oil works by forming a semi-breathable barrier over the skin. This barrier locks in moisture already on the skin’s surface.

Some adults also use baby oil on their bodies to relieve dry skin. Some swear that it gives their facial skin a special smoothness and glow. People also use baby oil on many other parts of the body, in their hair, and as lube.

According to a limited body of research, baby oil may have the ability to plump and soften skin. Here’s what you need to know if you’re thinking about applying it to your face.

Baby oil is formulated to be hypoallergenic and is free of parabens, phthalates, and dyes. This means it’s safe for most people to put on their skin without fear of allergic reaction.

There’s a limited amount of scientific research about how baby oil affects the skin, and barely any research about how it affects the face. According to what research exists, baby oil is safe for your skin, including the skin on your face.

Can you use baby oil as a face moisturizer?

Baby oil is noncomedogenic, meaning it won’t clog your skin’s pores. So if you have a dry-to-normal skin type, you can use baby oil to moisturize your face.

In a 1993 study, scientists tested four different common moisturizing ingredients to see how they affected people’s skin. One of them was mineral oil, a main ingredient in baby oil.

Compared with ethanol, glycerin, and water, water and baby oil appeared to have the biggest moisturizing effect of all the ingredients when applied to skin. The scientists found that mineral oil helped plump up the skin, giving a more hydrated appearance.

Does baby oil reduce the appearance of scarring and stretch marks?

There’s no direct research showing that baby oil can reduce the appearance of facial scars and stretch marks on the body. Yet, the same 1993 research that found baby oil to be an effective moisturizer suggests that this claim is likely true.

Most scars and stretch marks are depressed into the skin. Applying baby oil may plump up the skin in these areas, reducing the overall appearance of scars and stretch marks. An older 1975 study found that the effects of baby oil wear off within 48 hours of application. So, to keep skin looking moisturized and plump, reapplication is necessary.

Does baby oil relieve skin discomfort?

Researchers have found some evidence that baby oil can help relieve skin discomfort, including that associated with dry skin and conditions like psoriasis.

According to a 2012 study of people going through hemodialysis, baby oil helped significantly reduce itchiness when massaged into the itchy part of the body for at least 15 minutes per day for 3 weeks.

You can apply baby oil to your face any time of day or night to wake up with plumper, more supple skin. However, avoid doing this if you’re prone to acne, as this can make it worse.

Most claims about baby oil, other than its moisturizing and plumping abilities, are unproven. Here’s what you should know:

Can baby oil on your face treat acne?

There’s no proof that using baby oil can treat acne. While many people can apply baby oil to their face without increasing their risk of acne, you should avoid using it if you have acne-prone skin.

Even though baby oil itself won’t clog your pores, the barrier it creates over your skin could trap dirt and oil that gets into your pores and makes your acne worse.

Can baby oil remove makeup?

There’s no clear proof that baby oil can be used to remove makeup. However, many people do this anecdotally. Because it’s considered safe to use, it probably won’t hurt you. However, if you have acne-prone skin, you’ll want to avoid putting baby oil on your face.

Can you use it instead of shaving cream?

There’s no research suggesting that baby oil is a suitable substitute for shaving cream. However, regular use of baby oil may keep your skin moisturized and more supple, making shaving easier.

Baby oil is generally safe to use. Yet there are a few side effects to be aware of if you plan to use it on your face. These possible side effects include:

Allergic reaction

According to research, an allergic reaction to mineral oil, a common ingredient in baby oil, is very rare. However, if you have sensitive skin and are worried you might react, consider applying a small amount to another less visible part of your body.

Wait for 24 hours to see if you have a reaction. If you don’t observe any redness or irritation, you can apply it to your face without any issues.

Trigger breakouts

Baby oil is designed to be noncomedogenic. So it won’t clog pores, though it can trigger acne in those prone to breakouts.

Inability to sweat

Baby oil forms a barrier over your skin. So on a hot day, it can trap too much moisture. This makes it harder for you to sweat as your body naturally tries to cool off.

If you choose to apply baby oil to your face, here’s what to do:

  1. Wash your face with a gentle cleanser or soap.
  2. Pat dry, leaving some moisture on your skin’s surface.
  3. Squirt a small amount of baby oil in your hand.
  4. Gently massage the oil into your face with your fingertips.

Baby oil is a synthetic product. Plant oils are a more natural skin care choice. If you’re looking for alternative oils for plumping and smooth your face, consider these more natural options:

  • Almond oil is a gentle, hydrating oil. It’s great for those with dry and sensitive skin.
  • Argan oil is a perfect facial oil for those with normal skin. It’s hydrating and full of vitamins that can help protect your face from the sun and other types of skin damage.
  • Jojoba oil is great for those with an oily skin type. It’s lightweight and moisturizing, but it also cuts down on greasiness.
  • Rosehip oil works well for those with acne-prone skin. This oil is moisturizing yet also contains fatty acids that work to reduce redness and can fade acne scars.

Baby oil is a popular skin care product originally made for use on babies, but it’s also used by adults. It can help plump, smooth, and moisturize skin by sealing in moisture on the face and all over the body.

Though it’s a synthetic oil, it’s fairly gentle and rarely causes allergic reactions. Yet if you have acne-prone skin, you should avoid putting this product on your face, as it could cause breakouts.

Additionally, if you want to opt for a more natural facial oil, there are plenty of plant-based oils out there for all skin types.