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A plea for you to STOP using petroleum jelly and petroleum-based products.
Discovered in the 1800s, Petroleum Jelly is an oil byproduct from the bottom of oil rigs. Though the petroleum jelly in your medicine cabinet is more refined than its 19th-century ancestor, it’s still not recommended and can even be dangerous for your skin. Hopefully in these next few lines, I can convince you that Petroleum Jelly is NOT a beauty product, nor is it worthy of your skin.
In its purest form, petroleum jelly is supposedly safe. Petrolatum, or petroleum jelly, derived from petroleum, is often used in personal care products as a moisturizing agent. “When properly refined, petrolatum has no known health concerns. However, it is often not fully refined in the US, which means contaminated with toxic chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).”
PAH contaminated products are a cancer risk. – Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.
U.S. manufacturers are not legally required to remove PAH and other pollutants from petroleum jelly products.
What To Look For
FOUND IN: Lotions, Cosmetics
WHAT TO LOOK FOR ON THE LABEL: Petrolatum, Petroleum Jelly, Paraffin Oil, Mineral Oil, and White Petrolatum
Petroleum is not just bad for your health, it’s terrible for your skin too. Putting a petroleum jelly product like Vaseline on your skin is like wrapping your skin in plastic wrap. Petroleum jelly creates the illusion of moisturized skin. That cool, gooey feeling you get as you apply it is just a quick fix. It makes your skin feel hydrated at the moment but let me tell you: it’s not helping you fix anything.
Since petroleum jelly is water-repellant—not water-soluble—it forms a barrier over your skin. It traps moisture below this barrier, creating that illusion of hydration. Along with moisture, it also traps toxins, dirt, and other contaminants against your skin—and keeps moisture out. According to dermatologists, petroleum jelly can aggravate acne and rosacea.
“Petrolatum is inherently comedogenic, which means it will clog the pores,” says Ted Lain, MD, a board-certified dermatologist from Austin, Texas.
“It won’t heal acne—it will literally cause it.”
The barrier traps any harmful bacteria that may already be on the skin. “Acne and rosacea can be worsened by a thick emollient,” dermatologist Dr. Patricia Wexler notes, while dry skin can be made drier when blocked off from moisture in the air. If you have dry skin, you need skincare products that truly penetrate and hydrate dry skin. Petroleum jelly products do not do that.
Vaseline can also damage your skin’s collagen and elastin, making skin look older and worse in the long run. I know some of you use petroleum-based products as an eye makeup remover. Not only are the toxins going into your eye and the membranes around your eye, but you are also prematurely aging that delicate eye area.
So What Should You Use?
When using a body moisturizer, we need to be most careful because we generally use these every day over the largest area of our body (No More Dirty Looks).
Remember: your skin is a sponge. A byproduct from oil manufacturing does not belong on your face or body. Let’s keep our families safe and keep Petrolatum, Petroleum Jelly, Paraffin Oil, Mineral Oil, and White Petrolatum out of our skincare, baby care, cosmetics, makeup removers, lip products, body lotions, and foundations.
For further reading, check out: The Truth About Petrolatum: Does it Belong in Your Skin Care Products?