Why Petroleum Jelly is Bad for You

This already made the rounds online and in the news awhile back, but for those of you who haven't heard yet, it's not a good idea to put petroleum jelly on your skin. It may come as a surprise to many, considering it's been a staple inside many of our medicine cabinets for generations, especially in the winter time. But just like many other commercial products that have been hammered into our psyches as being indispensable, petroleum is one of those things where you're probably better off doing without.


Where does petroleum come from?

Petroleum jelly is a byproduct of refined crude oil, which makes it a not very environmentally friendly product. It starts off as the residue left on oil rigs, and is purified and processed until it becomes the off-white gooey stuff you see when you open up a jar of petroleum jelly.

What are the effects of petroleum jelly on the body?

Awhile back, a man named Dr. Alan Dattner told the Huffington Post that his research showed using petroleum jelly on the skin can suffocate pores, worsen acne and even trigger a rare form of pneumonia if inhaled. Meanwhile, cheaper brands of petroleum jelly may even contain cancer-causing chemicals.

According to Dattner, who founded HolisticDermatology.com, the seal that petroleum jelly creates over the skin actually disrupts the body's natural process of expelling toxins through the pores. So, by putting petroleum jelly on your skin, you're literally trapping toxins in your body. The sensation of hydration is only an illusion, and petroleum does not, in fact, restore natural moisture in the skin. What it does is seal moisture in, which is only effective if you make sure to thoroughly wash and moisturize your skin before applying the petroleum jelly.

This suffocating effect that petroleum has on the skin in the long term also damages collagen and connective tissue, which can actually cause the skin to age.

Many cosmetic products contain petroleum jelly, as it is considered non-comedogenic, helps the makeup adhere to the skin, and keeps the product water-repellent and non-water-soluble. The downside of this is that it is difficult to clean off the skin, and build-up of this substance on the skin over time attracts bacteria, which will lead to irritation and possibly breakouts.

All in all, petroleum jelly is not a good way to moisturize your skin.

What are healthy, natural alternatives to petroleum jelly?

As you can see from the many other recipes I've posted on Salubrious Exclamation, virgin coconut oil, olive oil and shea butter are excellent natural alternatives to petroleum jelly. These natural ingredients moisturize and rejuvenate the skin by actually being absorbed into the body without suffocating the skin's pores. Cocoa butter, olive, jojoba, and almond oils are also great ingredients to use on the skin. If you're looking for a healthy barrier to protect the skin and seal moisture in, use beeswax or soy wax, which can be naturally absorbed into the body without causing harm.

Check out this list of ways to make your own natural lotions and moisturizers at home!


Hope this was helpful for those of you who are interested in only using natural ingredients in your beauty regimens!

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