Petroleum Jelly As Skincare: The Bad and the Ugly.

Petroleum Jelly is a staple in many beauty routines.  And for that reason alone, I went with the flow a long time ago, trusting that it must be a good choice. I have since used petroleum jelly for everything from lip gloss to skin ‘cream’, hoping that it was what some claimed it to be; a cheap yet effective hydrator. Cheap yes…effective hydrator.. not so much and when I found out the very ugly side to petroleum jelly the ‘cheap’ was no longer so inviting.

The Bad

Petroleum Jelly is a by-product of  gasoline production. Strangely its origin as a residue left over in the refining process of crude oil really never occurred to me.  It is not ‘green’ nor natural in any way and comes with a host of potential concerns.

One such concern is that it can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). According to David Suzuki, studies suggest that exposure to PAHs, including skin contact over extended periods of time, is associated with cancer.  And it is on this basis, the European Union classifies petrolatum, a carcinogen restricting its use in cosmetics. And to make matters even worse, PAH’s are known to cause skin irritations. So just because it is allowed to be used as skincare, I started to figure…it doesn’t necessarily mean it should be.

The Ugly

Drinking Gasoline! The famous Dr Oz once caught my attention when he likened using petroleum jelly on lips being comparable to drinking gasoline. Oh my! And to add insult to injury there are many who claim that using petroleum jelly on your skin does it no benefit in terms of skin health. It is said to slow skin’s cellular regeneration, potentially damaging collagen and elastin, ultimately contributing to the appearance of older looking skin. Thoughts of sagging, drooping skin started to hit home and gone were all petroleum-based skincare products from my medicine cabinet. The Bad and the Ugly trumped any possible good.

Giving up on petro skin products altogether gave way to new-found alternative plant-based skin soothers, hydrators and glossers. Some of my favourites include:

For Lips: I now like dabbing my lips with 100% pure organic argan oil such as this one by Canada’s Cocoon Apothecary. It soothes lips, looks glossy for a bit and, no there’s no ‘eating gasoline’.  And to carry in my pocket or purse for myself or my young daughters, I like Keeki Pure & Simple Lip Shimmers or Consonant’s Organic Lip Conditioner. Made of organic plant oils and beeswax, these give shine and hydration to winter-weary lips. And bonus… as compared to petroleum-based lip products…the plant-based ones for some reason last so much longer. Woot!

For Face: Cocoon Apothecary’s 100% organic plant oils are so incredibly nourishing that I use them on my lips and on my face. Choose either Rosehip and/or Argan oil with no fillers, no synthetics and no harsh preservatives. Read about these oils to see how using them is associated with glowing, beautiful skin.

And I love Consonant’s HydrExtreme Skin Hydration Booster. Two plant-based ingredients (and nothing else!) give skin the best hydration with no oiliness. Love, love, love. This product won the Canadian Beauty Innovation Award in 2012, so clearly I feel am in good company!

For Body:  I find the hydrating effect of Graydon’s Green Cream is nothing short of fabulous.  I use it on any dry areas including my face.  Made with cold-pressed green broccoli seed oil, avocado oil and chlorophyll, it sure beats the idea of refined gasoline on my dry parts. I can’t help but liken it to eating broccoli vs. refined, processed foods. Mmm.. Salad for the skin!

For Hands: My skin loves the hydration of Ella’s Botanicals Magic Balms.  Made mainly of olive oil and shea butter, these balms give extremely de-hydrated hands a serious hydration fix in either Lavendar or Clementine scents. And at $15 for a wee tub that lasts a very long time, no wonder this Toronto-based company has trouble keeping its Magic Balms in stock.

If you have any petroleum-free beauty products you would like to share, please do!  I tend to favour local companies making great quality products but love to try new products. So bring on the suggestions!

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