If you have extremely dry skin or chapped lips or cracked heels, the first thing you do is quickly reach out for petroleum jelly. Petroleum jelly has been considered to be an effective moisturizer and for decades it has been used as a moisturizing agent, hence it has been prevalent in many skin care and personal care products. But lately, it has been found that petroleum jelly which is found in our skincare and personal care products can be a reason for concern. Keep reading to find out what exactly is petroleum and why it’s use is contentious in the beauty products.
What Is Petrolatum?
Petrolatum or the white petroleum jelly is a colourless or pale yellow coloured semi-solid substance. Petrolatum is known to be a by-product of petroleum refining, a toxic crude oil which is not considered to be eco-friendly. Some people consider Petrolatum or petroleum jelly to be safe for topical use. However, in some cases, petrolatum is not fully refined due to which there can be traces of toxic substances like PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). Petroleum jelly is used in a lot of skincare and personal care products, such as creams, moisturizers, lip balms, diaper rash creams, bath products, cleaning products etc.
Role Of Petroleum In Skin Care Products
Petroleum jelly is known for its ability to get easily absorbed into the skin and lock the moisture by placing itself in between the lipid barrier. Thus, petroleum jelly assists in keeping your dry skin hydrated. Petroleum jelly has no moisturizing properties of its own, instead, it creates an impermeable barrier over the skin which in turn locks in the moisture underneath but at the same time, it also traps in the dirt, sweat, grime or dead skin cells that are present on the skin surface. Petroleum jelly forms a thin film over the surface of your skin and does not let any other beneficial ingredients to penetrate the skin. It is not water-soluble, and it becomes difficult to rid the skin surface of the petroleum jelly. Over the period of time, it starts building up on the skin surface, which gives rise to formation of acne.
Due to its healing property, petroleum jelly is used in varied skin care ointments and is known for treating many dry skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.
In order to find out whether your skincare product has petroleum jelly, check the label and look out the terms such as
- Mineral Oil
- Liquid Paraffin
- Paraffin Oil
If your skin care product mentions any of the above names, then you can be sure that it contains petroleum jelly. Mostly the petrolatum which is used in beauty products is considered to be highly refined, others may contain certain undesirable toxic substances such as PAHs which may be harmful to your skin.
Reasons For Avoiding Skincare Products With Petroleum (H2)
Petrolatum has been widely used in skincare, haircare and personal care products, owing to its moisturizing, conditioning and healing properties. Until quite recently most of the consumers have started avoiding petroleum-based cosmetic products. Reason being its non-natural origin as petroleum jelly is derived from crude oil such as petroleum or mineral oil. Obviously, it is not recommended to slather your skin constantly with products which are derived from crude oil. Apart from this, there are other reasons to avoid petroleum in skin care products. Let us find out what they are
1. Petroleum And Mineral Oil Can't Be Metabolized
Different grades of petroleum are used in cosmetic products, commonly the purest and the most refined petroleum is used. Even the purest form of petroleum can sometimes be contaminated with unwanted and toxic substances. The use of petroleum-based cosmetic products over a period of time can result in the toxic contaminants entering into our system. In a recent study, it has been seen that the mineral oil or the petroleum hydrocarbons are the contaminants which are found in the fat tissue of the human body. These toxic substances enter into our body from the use of the cosmetic products and they remain in the body because such undesirable elements do not get metabolized or broken down in the body.
2. Petroleum-Based Skincare Products Hinder Nourishment Of Your Skin
Petroleum-based beauty products form a thin film over the surface and seal your skin. If your skin is well hydrated then the petroleum-based products help to retain the moisture, but what if the skin is not sufficiently hydrated. The petroleum-based products are not emollients that absorb water from the surrounding to keep your skin hydrated. Instead, it does not let the absorption of other beneficial ingredients present in the skincare products. Now it’s a known fact that petroleum-based skin care products do nothing to nourish your skin.
3. Petroleum Is Linked To Estrogen Dominance
Estrogen dominance is a condition where in the person has a high amount of estrogen, and almost negligible amount of progesterone which is required to balance its effects in the body. Xenoestrogen is a chemical present in the environment which imitates estrogen. It’s effect on the human body is known to be much more potent as it may affect proper functioning of reproductive organs in humans. Petroleum-based cosmetic products are classified as xenoestrogens which can have an adverse effect on our reproductive system. Even the purest and most refined types of petroleum-based products can produce estrogenic effects with possible endocrine-disrupting potential. Long term exposure to petroleum-based products can result in the buildup of the contaminants in our body which can lead to hormonal imbalances.
4. Petroleum Is Occlusive
Petroleum is known to be occlusive in nature, meaning that they form an impermeable membrane over the skin surface, i.e on one hand it prevents trans-epidermal water loss, keeping your skin moisturized and protected from environmental aggressors but, on the other hand, it seals the skin, trapping dirt, dust, grime and dead skin cells over the skin surface which leads to breakouts. The occlusive nature of petroleum creates a warm, moist environment which can become a breeding ground for bacteria, yeast and fungus, leading to many types of skin infections. Applying petroleum-based products on a sunburn can worsen the situation as it locks the heat into your skin and can cause permanent scarring on your skin.
6. Promotes Premature Ageing
Due to the occlusive nature of petroleum-based products, your skin’s natural ability to absorb moisture or nutrients is blocked. The use of petroleum-based products has also been a cause of concern because of impending collagen breakdown. It traps the dirt, grime and dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, thereby slowing the process of cell regeneration and promotes premature ageing.
Now you would agree as to why petroleum jelly or petroleum-based beauty products should be avoided in your daily skincare regime. Instead of using petroleum jelly to moisturize your skin, you can use natural oils such as coconut oil, jojoba oil, olive oil, almond oil to moisturize and nourish your skin and hair. These natural oils are known to gently nourish, moisturize, revitalize and rejuvenate your skin/hair.
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