Vaseline is the panacea of winter skin problems, but lately rumor has it that petroleum jelly is bad. But why? I know some of it has to do with the environment: Petroleum comes from the same place as gasoline, so it’s not exactly “green” beauty. But it’s not just the eco-friendly who shun petroleum; there’s also concern for the bad things it can do to your skin and body. Just don’t ask anyone why—it’s surprisingly tough to find out what’s so bad about petroleum jelly. So I asked around and found some straightforward answers, as well as some ways to make sure your winter skin isn’t left in the lurch.
First, a quick primer on where petroleum products like Vaseline come from, and why they’re not eco-friendly: Petroleum jelly is basically a byproduct of the oil industry. It’s a leftover residue created during the refinery of crude oil, and as such, isn’t a sustainable resource, according to many. Still, some argue that the demand for Vaseline is hardly what’s pushing the world towards oil shortage; gasoline and plastics are a more immediate concern.
But however you feel about the eco-concerns of Vaseline, there’s still some worry about whether it’s really that good for your skin. Spirit Demerson, founder of Spirit Beauty Lounge, should know: Her online shop only carries products that she’s carefully selected to be non-toxic and eco-friendly; and doesn’t just go by the label. She carefully investigates each product, where it comes from, and what it’s made of to ensure that she’s really selecting products that make sense for our bodies and the environment. Here’s what she has to say about petroleum:
I chose not to carry petroleum products first, for the planet, because petroleum is not a sustainable resource and second because I don’t think they’re the best we can do for our skin!
While petroleum is generally regarded as “safe” for use in cosmetics, there are some very cosmetic reasons for not using it:
- Because petroleum jelly forms a seal over the skin, it disrupts the bodies process of elimination of toxins through the pores, potentially trapping them under the skin.
- It creates a false sense or “feeling” of skin comfort and hydration while in fact it does nothing to nurture, heal or restore natural moisture to the skin.
- It slows cellular regeneration, which can damage collagen, elastin and connective tissue and contribute to the appearance of aging.
- It’s used as a base for cosmetics and medications because it stays on the skin but, while it is classified as non-comedogenic, it is also water-repellant and not water-soluble, making it difficult to cleanse from the skin. Even a minimal daily application can build up in the pores and attract dirt and bacteria, causing breakouts and skin irritation.
Natural alternatives deeply nourish and truly hydrate the skin, while rebuilding collagen and balancing moisture levels so that the skin isn’t just temporarily relieved of dryness, itching or chapping – it’s actually restored to the point that it stays hydrated and repairs better on its own.
Here’s what Spirit suggests to replace your favorite petro-products: