Intro: 11 Unusual Uses for Baby Oil
Have you heard that joke about baby oil? The one that goes something like:
If corn oil is made with corn and peanut oil is made with peanuts, then what is baby oil made with?
The answer: Baby oil is made with mineral oil and fragrance by industrial professionals; babies don't have the fine motor skills or chemistry knowledge to create baby oil, duh.
Baby oil is useful for a lot of things beyond baby bottoms. It'll smooth, soften, lubricate, refinish, clean, and so much more. It also has some usual uses for which it really oughtn't be used. Read on for some tips and tricks that'll help you step your baby oil game up.
Step 1: First, Some Don'ts
Don't use baby oil as a "personal" lubricant, particularly if you are using a latex condom. (Just look at the next step to see who wins in the latex vs. baby oil battle royale.)
Don't use baby oil to tan. Melanoma looks bad enough without being shiny.
Don't eat baby oil. It has laxative properties and likely doesn't taste delicious. (Mineral oil is safe for human consumption, but only up to around 100 mg. Many of those milligrams come from food-grade mineral oil that's used in baking and other industrial food processing places because it's odorless and tasteless. My guess is that baby oil mineral oil isn't food-grade. Stay safe: don't guzzle a bottle of it.)
Don't use it in your 2-stroke engine.
Don't aim baby oil at helicopter pilots. Wait... that's for lasers. But you should still be careful around helicopter pilots with baby oil. It can be a slip-fall hazard, and pilots prefer the scent of aviation fuel.
Step 2: Get Latex Paint Off of Skin
I've worked as a painter for a couple of years, and one thing was certain: I ended up with paint on me. Somewhere.
Latex paints and primers are sneaky. Sometimes they just rub off like rubber cement, other times they'll stay in your knuckles for a couple of days. Whenever some Lava soap couldn't get all the Lemon Ice or Chesapeake Gray paint off of my hands, baby oil would come to the rescue.
Rub a little onto the part of your body covered in paint using a cotton ball, shop towel, napkin, or anything else you've got on hand that will absorb the baby oil. Rub in concentric circles from the outside in without applying too much pressure. This isn't a scrub, it's more a gentle, localized massage. You can scrub to your heart's content after you've washed it off with some soap and water, once you feel you've made some progress with the oil.
This worked when I dropped a five gallon bucket of paint on myself while on a ladder in a Sears, because five gallons manages to get past the normal problem areas (hands, arms, flecks on the face from rolling out a ceiling) and into some unusual locations that could be sensitive to paint thinner. Presumably the oil degrades the latex to the point that it will flake off. This is why condom + baby oil = one beautiful bundle of joy 9 months later.
Step 3: Massage Oil
Step 4: Remove Earwax
When in-ear headphones were just starting to become a thing, I went deaf in one ear. Panicked, I went to the doctor only to discover that I had a cebum compaction, earwax clogging my ear to the point I couldn't hear. Gross, right?
For the temporarily hearing impaired, there's an easy home remedy to handle that waxy buildup: baby oil!
While laying on your side or tilting your head so your affected ear is up, drop five drops of baby oil inside (warmed, if you really want to dissolve the mess) your ear. Let it stay for long enough to dissolve some of the wax, then let the oil drain out onto a clean towel or into the sink. A small amount of warm water can be used to dislodge any last bits with a small bulb or needle-less syringe.
Step 5: Take Off Eye Makeup
Put some baby oil on a cotton ball. Gently rub it over any eye makeup that you want to remove. Maybe use another cotton ball to wipe away any excess oil.
This one does double duty: removes makeup and makes your eyelids soft and supple.
Step 6: Bath Oil
Put a few drops into the next bath you draw. It'll leave your skin feeling touchably soft and silky. May not prevent pruniness in the extremities.
Step 7: Post-shave Oil
Use as an after-shave oil after shaving any non-face part of the body. Works best as a layer over the top of some traditional moisturizer to lock in the freshness.
Step 8: Keep Warm
My little sister went to school in Montana. The temperature routinely dropped below -10 degrees Celsius. She would use baby oil or Vaseline as an extra layer of insulation on any exposed skin as she hiked her way to class. It apparently prevented any facial frostbite, as she still has her nose attached.
There are limits to how helpful or practical this is. You can't just grease up and head out in your skivvies when birds are dropping from trees encased in ice. But YMMV.
Step 9: Soften Cracked or Dry Heels
If your heels are cracked, dry, and unsightly... baby oil and a sock will help. (I recognize that these two items are often used in conjunction for other purposes: filming extra-slippery versions of the Risky Business slide, freshening up a pair of stinky socks, and even - though I hesitate to mention it - cleaning off the sides of a dribbly bottle of baby oil.)
Apply some baby oil over your heel before bed, put on some socks, then wake up transformed like a Jergens-Kafka mashup.
Step 10: Reduce Stretch Marks During Pregnancy
Apply some baby oil to soften skin and prevent stretch marks during pregnancy. I hear good things about cocoa butter as well. Shea butter. Anything greasy and easily-absorbent.
But baby oil is perfect, since you're applying the oil directly to the baby's temporary home.
Step 11: Shine Wooden Furniture
If your dinner party is starting in ten minutes and you've just noticed that there are hideous water stains on your tabletops, have no fear. Baby oil can help by providing a quick polish.
The mineral oil will put a nice shine on the furniture, helping to create a water-proof barrier and an understated shine that should impress any and all guests. Plus, it'll smell fresh and baby-like.
Step 12: Untangle a Necklace Chain
Sometimes there will be a snarl in your necklace that seems impossible to undo. Before you throw away your diamonds and gold in frustration, try a quick baby oil bath. It'll lubricate the metal links, allowing them to separate more easily. Use a pin to work out the tangled knot after the dunk in oil.
Presto! You just saved a couple grand by not throwing away your jewelry. You're welcome.
Step 13: Remove Bubblegum, Wax, or Bandaids
If you've got some bubblegum or wax on your body or in your hair, baby oil will get it out. Apply a small amount to the affected area, let it sit, then work at the mess with your fingertips. It'll make the gum easier to get out, it'll soften the wax, and it will help the bandage come off without tearing out any hair.
This is a particularly good method of removing excess wax after an eyebrow or bikini job.
For those of you who remove more band-aids than body hair, applying some baby oil around the bandage is a great middle-of-the-road option for people who can't subscribe to the RIP IT OFF! camp or the IT'LL FALL OFF ON ITS OWN, DON'T TOUCH IT! contingent. Firm but gentle, that's the way to do it. Tough love.