Petrolatum, aka Petroleum Jelly - Is it Safe? Everything you need to know...
Almost every household has a jar/tube of Vaseline or other Petrolatum-based products. Doctors receive thousands of free samples from the manufacturers to pass on to their patients. It's also in every Dermatologists' sample cabinet. The mere fact that you get a sample from your doctor implies that the product is safe and doctor recommended. Genius marketing!
What Is Petrolatum?
Is Petrolum Jelly Toxic?
Despite the fact that many doctors consider it safe, along with medications that come with long lists of side effects, the fact that can not be disputed is the great potential for containing a dangerous carcinogen named PHA's.
Petroleum goes through a 'refining' process where it is heated by a furnace and toxic chemicals are implemented. One of the refining agents is polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PHA's), which is recognized by the European Union as a carcinogen.
When properly refined, petrolatum should conceptually be safe to use. The EU & the FDA require companies to refine their ingredients. But there is no guarantee that the refinement was as thorough and complete as one should like. We just do not know the extent to which PHA's are removed. But if you must use it, look for Refined White Petrolatum.
Let's assume that all companies that use this ingredient in their products do an excellent job in the refining process and every last trace of PHA's has been removed. I still don't find this ingredient helpful or beneficial for use on human skin. Here are a few reasons why:
- Petrolatum should not be used in nostrils. When inhaled, it could potentially cause pneumonitis; inflammation of lung tissue.
- What skin needs most is water. Humectants like glycerin, Hyaluronic Acid are more beneficial as they draw water into the skin. Petrolatum is a water repellent so it will prevent the absorption of water into the skin, leaving it more dehydrated than before. The moisture you feel is just the wax itself or mineral oil (mostly used in moisturizers, even luxury ones like Creme De La Mer). Both ingredients have no ability to absorb into the skin and provide benefits of any sort.
- Benefits are limited to providing a waxy layer that gives the allusion of moisturization, however you could use any natural oil or butter and get far better results.
- It's comedogenic, meaning can potentially clog pores. It can also trap dirt and impurities you may have had on your skin, pushing them further into the skin.
- It's harmful to those with rosacea and acne.
- Potentially the cheapest and most unsustainable cosmetic ingredient you could use, being a byproduct of the oil industry (not eco-friendly).
- The thick texture makes it hard to remove properly, requiring rubbing of the skin, which can leave you with irritation, or in the case that you use mainstream cleanser (filled with parabens & other harsh chemicals). This potentially drives other carcinogenic toxins into the skin.
What can I use instead of Petroleum Jelly?
I mean this literally, anything is better. Of course, I'm speaking about skin moisturizing ingredients; oils and waxes. Pick one and it's an upgrade from Petrolatum, Paraffin and Mineral Oil. Olive, Avocado or Coconut oils from your pantry are far better options. You get the point...
Allow me offer a few great options that can provide the comfort of Petrolatum, without the risks...
A phenomenal soothing and healing balm, created for babies, but excellent for adults as well. It's Ideal for slugging in dry winter months, and combats dry, irritated skin, symptoms of eczema, cracked nails, rough cuticles, stretch marks and scars. This is suitable for anywhere that you need a little extra care.
Also a balm that's made initially for babies, but recommended for adults as well. This is lighter in texture, which make it suitable for those with normal and combination skin types that suffer from dehydration, or simply want to optimize their routine. Ideal for chapped lips.
This miracle balm feeds your skin from head to toe, and is rich in skin-plumping fatty acids. Its formula contains protective vitamin E and nourishing minerals such as magnesium, calcium, iron, copper, and zinc. It acts as a hydrating moisturizer, luxurious body balm, and gentle cleanser. Use this on chapped lips, rough knees or elbows, or to gently remove your toughest waterproof makeup.
This deeply moisturizing lip and eye butter contains Shea Butter. Shea butter is known for its high content of fatty acids and vitamins A and E, it penetrates deep into the skin creating a silky smooth barrier. Traditionally used as a ‘’cure-all’’ balm by women in Africa who used it on everything from stretch marks to baby bottoms. It is such an amazing natural alternative to petroleum, and it’s hydrating effects can last several hours.
Petroleum Jelly (Petrolatum) is a prime example of how companies within the cosmetic industry stretch the truth in order to sell their products. It is not worth risking the damage to your skin. Stick to ingredients you can trust that are made to be absorbed by the body, and hydrate deep within the skin. There are plenty of natural alternatives to petrolatum or Vaseline that contain beneficial and nourishing vitamins for your skin. Look for ingredients such as Shea butter, Olive oil, Seed oils, and plant-based extracts that are safe and hydrating. Think twice before you accept another packet of petroleum from your dermatologist!
Be safe. Be well. Be beautiful.