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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5 Best Family-Friendly ‘After Sun’ Products

Now that summer is finally here and is accompanied by sun drenched days (Yippee!), I amMuskoka chair reminded of the need for after-sun products. My own experience has proved that some of these can be very hard on sensitive skin and that in many cases, conventional after-sun products don’t cut it.

I found out the hard way that conventional ‘after-sun’ was not going to work for us. One day, when I applied one to my young daughter’s skin, she screamed AND cried, ‘Get it off. It’s hurting me’!!

I had assumed the product was safe for her uber-sensitive skin as it was from a ‘natural’ products company.  Apparently, not so.  I checked the label after the screaming subsided, to find after aloe, were listed a few synthetic chemicals.  Clearly not suitable for sensitive-skinned kids. I then researched to find truly soothing products that would not cause us upset when applied.

As I hear so often that many parents identify with my need for only the most gentle of products, I am sharing my new fave, better-than-conventional skin soothers:

Dr. Robin For Kids Daily Moisture

  • Size/Price: 6 oz/177mL $16.00
  • Main Ingredients: Shea Butter, Safflower Seed Oil, Coconut Oil
  • Why We Love It: Dr. Robin is a pediatric dermatologist and developed her line of products for sensitive or eczema-prone kids.  She is also a mom of three wee kids. And Dr. Robin’s Daily Moisture works well on winter-weary skin too so if you have some left over at the end of the summer…lucky you!
  • Buy Here or Here

COOLA Body Lotion Bars

  • Size/Price: 2.75 oz./78g $22.00
  • Main Ingredients: Shea Butter, Beeswax, Almond Oil, Avocado Oil, Vitamin E
  • Why We Love It: Easy to apply. It is a bar of soothing, hydrating ingredients that you simply pick up like a puck and rub on skin. Older kids can apply themselves.  And we found it difficult to waste product.
  • Buy Here or Here

COOLA Radical Recovery After Sun Lotion

  • Size/Price: 6oz/180 mL $36.00
  • Main Ingredients: Sunflower Seed Oil, Aloe Vera Juice and delicious-smelling flower and citrus oils AND many ingredients are organic.
  • Why We Love It: Works so well AND smells so good! It comes in a tube large enough to do for the whole family for the entire summer season.
  • Buy Here or Here

Ella’s Botanicals Magic Balm

  • Size/Price: 62g/2oz $15.00
  • Main Ingredients: Olive Oil, Shea Butter, Beeswax and delicious-smelling oils of lavendar or tangerine depending which scent suits your fancy….Ella makes two Magic Balms. She says Lavendar is her best-seller but we are partial to Clementine.
  • Why We Love It: Soothes skin sooo well and we love that Ella is a person not just a brand name and a mom herself. Ella is a hometown favourite where I live for moms looking for all natural products for their kids.
  • Buy Here or Here

Consonant Unscented Hydrating Body Lotion

  • Size/Price: 8.5 oz/ 250 mL $22.00 OR 17 oz/ 500mL $42.00
  • Main Ingredients: Organic Aloe, soothing Sunflower Seed Oil and hydrating Coconut Oil.
  • Why We Love It: We love most products by this award-winning Canadian cosmetic company and this product is no exception. Unit for unit Consonant gives great value especially as many of its ingredients are certified organic.  We love that the larger format with a pump makes easy to use on squirming kids.  In fact we find it great for the whole family!
  • Buy Here or Here

I know there are lots of fabulous products I haven’t discovered yet. If you have a favourite , please feel free to share as I would love to hear! I do tend to favour local products as well as products that are standouts in their category no matter where they hail from.

Here’s to Happy Summer Skin!

The Dark Side Of Baby Oil And Why You May Want to Avoid It

Conventional baby oil is made from mineral oil and fragrance. Mineral oil is sometimes called liquid paraffin (or Paraffinum Liquidum) as it closely resembles melted wax. You will find it listed by either name as an ingredient on product labels.

Mineral oil is a by-product of the petroleum industry, which translates to it is derived from crude oil.  Make no mistake, it is not environmentally-friendly nor baby-friendly. Pictures you may have seen of an oil spill in water gives a visual of the environmental part of the issue. As well, many believe that using mineral oil on your child’s skin is akin to wrapping the tot in plastic wrap as skin really can’t breathe properly when doused in petroleum oil. Worse, is that mineral oil is a suspected carcinogen according to some environmental experts and in recent years mineral-based baby oil has caused horrific, unspeakable injuries to at least one baby and death to  others.

So I am convinced that there may not be a more frightening ‘baby’ product available. As it is always best to know all the risks associated with a product so that you can make the best decision for your family, here are some details:

In 1985, a 15 month old boy suffered horrible injuries after he drank baby oil oil and inadvertently got some in his lungs.  The boy lived but is reported to live today in a state where he cannot move his arms or legs as they are stiff and spastic. He cannot speak and suffers mental retardation. A lawsuit ensued, the details can be seen here.

And in 2001, a 16 month old boy died in the US after swallowing baby oil and also getting some into his lungs.  According to this account, It took 28 days for the end to come, when he suffocated to death. Sadly, it was reported that doctors could do nothing to help him once the oil got into his lungs.

And in the news this past summer, a 14 month old girl in California died after ingesting baby oil. Reports of the tragedy, confirm the baby’s mother said that it took a split second for her daughter to get the baby oil and ingest it.  Little Mya Rose lived for a number of weeks then passed away earlier this month.

The bottom line was that the parents in each case claimed they had no idea that this product was a hazard to young children and thus, it was not treated as a potentially dangerous substance in their home.  I have to admit that when my kids were babies I had no idea either and had baby oil in arm’s reach of the change table. And even though it makes perfect sense that a child could aspirate on an oil, I had no real thoughts of the inherent danger either.

The early cases were apparently integral in putting in place laws regarding child-proof lids on products that could possibly injure children. However the danger still exists, so it is good to know that better alternatives exist to soothe your child’s skin without the potential risk of asphyxiation.

What’s the alternative?  For a baby’s behind, choose a good quality all-natural (non-liquid) balm made from soothing, plant-based oils such as olive and jojoba.  I like Ella’s Botanicals Magic Balm or Bottoms Up! Diaper Balm.  The Magic Balm has multi-uses for soothing all dry, irritated skin so is good for the entire family.  For a cream-based skin soother, I know tons of mamas who love the all-natural Original Sprout’s Scrumptious Baby Cream.  It definitely works well at soothing chafed skin and the scent is very close to the scent of conventional baby oil. Interestingly, the entire Original Sprout baby line seem to elicit almost a cult-like following by moms in the know. And for an unscented option,a good option is Dr. Robin For Kids Daily Moisture Cream. As it’s a great moisturizer developed by a doctor for children with super-sensitive or eczema-prone skin. And as the scent is  not specifically ‘baby’, it a good choice for anyone in the family to use. And a tube lasts a long, long time. Yippee!

If you have a personal favourite baby or toddler skin soother, feel free to let me know.  I always love to hear what other parents use on their wee ones skin. And please, please do pass this information along to anyone who may benefit from the info in hope this NEVER happens to another baby EVER.