Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Petroleum as an ingredient in your face & body products

Is there any good, “healthy” use for petroleum*?

When the word petroleum is used, it is referring to petroleum jelly. Petroleum jelly, sometimes listed as petrolatum on ingredient lists, is a thick gel-like substance that has absolutely no nutritive content. It is void of anything actively healing. In other words, it is inert. Although, due to its gel consistency, it can feel soothing and even hydrating.

Petroleum has a large molecular structure (especially the lower grade types) and is not a good ingredient in skin care products for the face. This large molecule prohibits absorption into the skin. Therefore, if you use a moisturizer with petroleum in it, it will just sit on the surface of your skin, potentially clog your pores, and perhaps even make your skin look shiny.

A very expensive petroleum face cream
If you ski, for instance, this might not be a bad thing. Under those types of harsh environmental conditions, having an occlusive covering over your skin may be just what you need. But day to day, under normal circumstances, you won’t want to have petroleum on your face.

Petroleum helps to lock in moisture, and it stays on the surface and helps to make skin feel smooth. This may sound like a favorable thing for your face, but because of the potential for congestion, I stand by my recommendation to avoid petroleum in your facial moisturizers.

If you go to the grocery store and look at the ingredient lists on products like Lubriderm and Vaseline Intensive Care, you will see that some of the first ingredients are petroleum and mineral oil. (Mineral oil is just another form of petroleum.) Both of these can really clog the pores on your face. But both of these make great ingredients in body products. I never recommend mineral oil-based products for the face, but as body creams they do a good job of keeping the skin on that large surface area softer and smoothed.

Is it OK to use body lotions that contain petroleum? I know in your book you say the molecule is very large so moisturizers with petroleum derivatives like mineral oil don’t penetrate very well. Do you opt for the natural, health food store body lotions? 

As mentioned, I don’t recommend using petroleum products on the face—or at least for skin that is normal or oily. These cheaper ingredients (like petroleum or mineral oil) have a large molecular structure, and the creams they are in tend to sit on the surface of the skin. For anything other than true-dry skin, this can cause congestion and possibly breakout.

When it comes to my body, I tend to use less expensive products than I do on my face. I actually use a health food store grapefruit body moisturizer that is under $10 for 12 ounces. (It doesn’t happen to contain petroleum.) It’s inexpensive and it’s actually a quality product. I only use body creams that have a pump in the bottle, so this one fits my needs in that regard as well.

I take lots of baths—especially in the winter—and every time I get out of the tub, I slather my entire body (except for my face and neck) with this moisturizer, therefore I go through a lot of product in a short time. I believe you don’t have to spend a lot of money on body moisturizers—unless you want to. Because the surface area is large compared to your face, you will go through a lot of product if you use it every time you take a bath or shower.

There are inexpensive brands of body lotions like Lubriderm® and Vaseline Intensive Care®. These products and many like them do contain petroleum derivatives. I wouldn’t use these products on my face, but my body’s skin is different and does very well with these cheaper creams. Regardless of the price, I am not against using mineral oil or petroleum as ingredients in moisturizers for the body.

Keeping the skin on your body (and face) soft and smooth comes from both exfoliation and moisturizing. Be sure to have both types of products available to keep your skin supple and hydrated all over.

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