THE BEST NATURAL ALTERNATIVES FOR PETROLEUM JELLY
For over a century, Petroleum Jelly has been hailed as a dry skin savior and a cornerstone in many people's beauty routines. From dermatologists and makeup artists to celebrities and models, products such as Vaseline and Aquaphor have been recommended time and time again across multiple generations. However, with the current shift of the skin care industry, as well as the abundance of information available regarding different ingredients, consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of how their personal care products affect their well-being, as well as the impact they have on the environment. Hence, the safety, efficacy, and sustainability of Petroleum Jelly have come into question.
Petroleum Jelly is a mixture of mineral oils and waxes derived from the same Petroleum that is used in cars and lawn mowers. It has a soft and thick texture that creates an occlusive layer on top of the skin. While Petroleum Jelly has been used for an array of household needs for many years, consumers have begun looking for safer and natural alternatives. Continue reading to learn about the history of Petroleum Jelly, the potential problems it poses to your health, and natural raw materials that are equally as effective for all your skin care and hair care needs.
THE HISTORY AND CULTURAL SIGNIFICANCE OF PETROLEUM JELLY
Petroleum Jelly, also known as Petrolatum and Paraffin, was initially discovered in 1859 by chemist Robert Chesbrough in an oil rig in Titusville, Pennsylvania. He noticed that oil workers who were collecting crude oil would apply the jelly-like residue on their skin to treat burns. Chesbrough then decided to package this crude oil byproduct and sell it under the name Vaseline in 1870, promoting the product for its "healing properties". By 1875, tubs of Vaseline were being sold at the rate of a jar a minute.
For over 150 years, Petroleum Jelly has been a staple in households around the world. It acts as an occlusive, meaning it creates a barrier that locks in any moisture that is underneath it. Petroleum Jelly also prevents the air from drawing moisture from the skin. This makes Vaseline beneficial for applying on top of other lotions and creams, especially during the winter when skin is most susceptible to dryness and irritation. Petroleum Jelly is most used for treating chapped hands and lips, but it is versatile enough to be used to mend the appearance of split ends, treat minor skin scrapes and burns, prevent diaper rash for babies, remove eye makeup, and can even be used as a lubricant to loosen stuck objects.
THE PROBLEM WITH PETROLEUM JELLY
Petroleum Jelly is derived from the same toxic crude oil that is used in cars. When properly refined, this common household item is believed to have no known health concerns. However, some petroleum produced in the US may not be fully refined, meaning the final product may still contain toxic chemicals such as Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG), PHAs are considered a group of carcinogens, meaning they can increase the risk of some types of cancers, and can potentially damage the reproductive organs. Exposure to high levels of PAHs have also been linked to numerous other health concerns, such as eye cataracts, breathing problems, and asthma-like symptoms.
Petroleum Jelly is not suitable for all skin types or skin concerns, even when it is properly refined and free of toxic contaminants. The topical application of petroleum jelly and other petroleum-based products may interfere with the skin's natural ability to form a protective film, especially after wounding or injury. The occlusive thick layer does not allow the skin to breathe properly and, while it may be effective at treating dry and chapped skin, Petroleum Jelly's texture does not allow other beneficial ingredients to penetrate the skin. Although some products claim to be "non-comedogenic", there is no clear FDA definition for the term or a definitive list of ingredients that are considered comedogenic. Meaning, that Petroleum Jelly may not be suited for acne-prone skin.
NATURAL RAW MATERIALS TO USE IN PLACE OF PETROLEUM JELLY
Extracted from the Shea Nuts of the Karité tree, this emollient is one of the most sought-after ingredients in the skin care, hair care, and cosmetic industries for its rich nutrient profile and its ability to replenish dry, chapped skin. Constituents such as Linoleic, Palmitic, Stearic, and Oleic Fatty Acids are responsible for managing water loss when restoring moisture in the skin. Meanwhile, Vitamins A, E, and F possess antioxidant properties that promote skin cell turnover, revealing renewed and healthy-looking skin. Cetyl ester is responsible for Shea Butter’s waxy texture that conditions the skin and locks in moisture, making it an excellent natural alternative to Petroleum Jelly. It can be used in the hair or on the skin, including areas such as the lips, elbows, hands, and knees.
A popular ingredient for lip balm formulations, Beeswax is a sustainable raw material that creates a hydrating barrier, protecting the skin against harsh environmental elements. When used topically, Beeswax is believed to repair damage and exfoliate the skin while promoting skin cell renewal. Its restorative, anti-inflammatory, and regenerative properties make this natural wax suitable for an array of skin types, including mature skin, dry skin, and skin troubled by eczema and psoriasis.
Beeswax can also be applied to the hair to ease frizz and flyaways while replenishing moisture and shine. It adds a soft hold to hairstyles without looking greasy or weighing hair down and can be washed out easily.
Possessing a subtle honey scent, Beeswax can also be used as an alternative to Paraffin wax for handmade candles. Beeswax candles are sustainable and have a higher melting point, emitting a longer and warmer burn time. It also burns longer and cleaner than traditional Paraffin candles, so they are less likely to trigger any allergic reactions.
Olive Carrier Oil
Rich in Essential Fatty Acids, Vitamin E, and Polyphenols, Olive Oil is a rich emollient that can be a good alternative to Petroleum Jelly in skin care and hair care formulations. Oleic and Linoleic Acids conditions dry skin and hair and encourage water retention, while also exhibiting Antioxidant activity that protects the skin and the hair from oxidative stress. Polyphenols are believed to repair extra dry skin and hair, promote healthy skin cells and hair growth, and improve skin elasticity in maturing skin. Olive Oil’s Antioxidant activity is due to its Vitamin E and Carotenoid content, which is also believed to replenish the skin, support the skin’s elastin and collagen production, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
A reputed occlusive ointment with a decadent aroma, Cocoa Butter is a delectably rich moisturizer that is popular in the skin care and hair care industries. This raw material is a naturally occurring fat derived from cacao beans found inside the pods of the Cocoa Tree. When applied topically, Cocoa Butter coats the skin with a protective barrier, promoting water retention in extremely dry skin. Its Fatty Acid profile includes Oleic, Stearic, Palmitic, Linoleic, Arachidic, and Palmitoleic Acids. These constituents are responsible for Cocoa Butter's ability to condition dry skin and hair while preventing moisture loss over time. Vitamin E found in Cocoa Butter exhibits antioxidant properties that are beneficial for maturing skin, while Vitamin K helps to treat acne and scars, making Cocoa Butter a versatile alternative to Petroleum Jelly. It can be used on its own or blended into an all-natural personal care formulation.
Coconut Carrier Oil
Rich in Phytonutrients, Polyphenols, and Antioxidants, Coconut Oil is one of the most effective emollients for dry skin and brittle hair. Its main constituents include Polyunsaturated Fats and Monounsaturated Fats, which contribute to antimicrobial and antifungal properties while replenishing moisture and shine to the skin and hair. Polyphenols, which are found in unrefined varieties, are believed to soothe inflammation, repair dry and damaged skin, support elasticity, and support healthy hair growth. Coconut Oil's ability to penetrate the skin seamlessly makes it equally as effective as Petroleum Jelly when treating dryness. However, Coconut Oil is gentler on the skin, the hair, and the environment.
Hailed as the "King of Fruits" in India, Mango Butter is expeller pressed from the de-shelled seeds of the Mangifera indica. The seed of this sweet tropical fruit produces a natural fat that is light yet rich and is reputed to promote healthier skin and stronger hair. Mango Butter is especially beneficial for extra dry or irritated skin that is troubled by itching or inflammation. Constituents such as Stearic acid, Oleic Acid, Linoleic Acid, and Palmitic Acid penetrate the skin and the hair below the surface, repairing any dryness and damage. The presence of Vitamins A, C, and E in Mango Butter exhibits antioxidant activity that protects the skin and hair from harsh environmental elements as well as oxidative stress. Mango Butter's Vitamin profile is also reputed to promote collagen production, and skin cell turnover, and prevent moisture loss from the skin and the hair.
OTHER WAYS TO AVOID PETROLEUM JELLY IN YOUR PERSONAL CARE ROUTINE
Avoid byproducts of Petroleum - This includes mineral oil, paraffin wax, petrolatum, naphtha, and formaldehyde.
Switch to soy wax or beeswax candles - Many conventional candles are made with petroleum-derived ingredients, such as paraffin.
Choose products that are free of petroleum jelly - Instead, look for ingredients such as Coconut Oil, Cocoa Butter, and Shea Butter that is equally as effective while being kinder to your skin and to the environment.
CONTRAINDICATIONS FOR NATURAL RAW MATERIALS
All New Directions Aromatics Essential Oils, Carrier Oils, and Raw Materials are for external use only. They should not be ingested and should not be stored within the reach of children, in case of accidental ingestion. As with essential and carrier oils, a patch test should be conducted on the inner arm or another generally insensitive area of skin, using a dime-sized amount of the specified oil to check for sensitivities. An absence of an allergic response within 48 hours suggests that the oil is safe to use.
The topical application of most carrier oils is generally known to be safe with responsible use, but irritations, allergies, rashes, and other side effects are possible. In the chance of an allergic reaction, discontinue the use of the product and see a doctor, pharmacist, or allergist immediately for a health assessment and appropriate remedial action. To prevent side effects, consult with a medical professional prior to use.
Essential oils, carrier oils, and raw materials must never be used near the eyes, inner nose, and ears, or on any other particularly sensitive areas of skin.
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