It’s amazing how much conflicting information you read on the use of various skin care products. Today we’re going to discuss the facts and fiction out there on the use of petroleum jelly in skin care products. Petroleum jelly may be in the commercial bath and beauty products you buy or in homemade creams and salves. The question is should you use it?
What Is Petroleum Jelly?
You probably already know that petroleum jelly, often known as Vaseline, comes from petroleum, the same stuff that gasoline powered vehicles use. It’s a semi solid refined version.
Should Petroleum Jelly Be Used On Your Skin?
Let’s think about that for just a minute. Consider that petroleum jelly is not soluble in water or alcohol. It takes dichloromethane, chloroform, benzene, diethyl ether, carbon disulfide or turpentine to dissolve it. It also won’t melt unless you have a mighty hefty fever of around 167 F (75 C).
I doubt there’s a goddess out there that wants to use benzene or turpentine to remove petroleum jelly from her skin. Recently petroleum jelly has come under scrutiny as a possible carcinogen. There is no evidence of this directly, however if the petroleum jelly isn’t manufactured to the strictest standard, cancer causing impurities may be present.
So, how do you know if the petroleum jelly you buy is pure? It should tell you on the label. Can you believe a label? If the product is from a well known manufacturer, you can probably believe what the label says. Notice I said probably. To be sure, I purchase therapeutic grade or medical grade petroleum jelly.
Will it kill you if you use it? No. Will it clog your pores? Yes. Do you really want to apply a cream to your skin that clogs your pores? Probably not. For you mom goddesses out there, it also clogs the pores on you baby’s skin.
What Are Those Special Circumstances When Petroleum Jelly Might be Used?
In each of the following situations, I would only use petroleum jelly if I didn’t happen to have a good plant based alternative on hand.
- If you have a situation where you absolutely want to keep all water away from your skin.
- I have used it on my hands when I plan to paint with oil based paint. It makes any spots easier to remove without harsh chemicals.
- It can also be used as a personal lubricant. You just don’t want to use it along with condoms. Petroleum jelly and condoms don’t play well together and the condom can develop a leak. Not a good idea unless you want to become a new mom.
- You can extend the life of your perfume by putting a small spot of petroleum jelly on your wrists and then apply your perfume.
- Add petroleum jelly to your cuticles before applying nail polish to prevent the polish from running.
Is There an Alternative to Petroleum Jelly?
The answer to that is a resounding yes. A skin protecting cream can be made using plant based products. Thousands of home crafters make their own skin protectant creams from natural plant based products. Frankly, I think this is the way to go for three reasons: one, I believe it’s a healthier alternative, two, I don’t have to worry about the truthfulness on the label, and three, I don’t think the oil companies need my support. They will do just fine without me using a refinery byproduct on my skin.
Petroleum jelly alias Vaseline has been used for a long time for all sorts of things. One use was for burns until it was discovered that it made burns worse by holding in the heat. The only reason I bring that up is to demonstrate that just because a product has been in use for a long time doesn’t mean it’s good. To be fair, it doesn’t mean it’s bad either. However, in the case of petroleum jelly I believe a good barrier cream from a plant based product is the best to use on our skin.
Now go have fun and relax.