When we have dry lips or skin one of the first things we reach for are products such as Vaseline® which help to create a barrier and prevent moisture from leaving our skin. Unfortunately, many people tout these kind of products as moisturisers, but they aren’t. They contain no moisturising properties at all and may actually do more harm than good.
The main ingredient of products such as Vaseline® is Petroleum Jelly, which is a byproduct of crude oil, the oil refining process and the production of gasoline. This means that it’s neither friendly to the environment or sustainable.
Petroleum Jelly or Petrolatum was originally found at the bottom of America’s earliest oil rigs in Titusville, Pennsylvania in 1859 and was subsequently patented and promoted in 1872 by Vaseline founder, Robert Chesebrough for its ‘healing properties’.
Since then Petroleum Jelly has been used in a wide variety of beauty and healthcare products such as lotions, chapsticks, soaps, oils, lipsticks and even baby products!
Although Petroleum Jelly is ‘refined’ to remove the majority of the most harmful ingredients, it still contains Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs), the same hydrocarbons you will find in the petrol that you put into your car, hence the name, ‘Petroleum Jelly’.
Exposure to higher levels of PAHs has been linked to a number of cancers such as bladder, liver, lung and skin cancers. It has also been suggested that PAHs can contribute to the development of breast cancer, although it’s not clear as to whether such side-effects can be attributed to the use of petroleum based products.
The fact is that we may never know for sure just how safe petroleum jelly is, at least not until it’s too late. The pharmaceutical industry is worth billions and the companies that create such products do not ultimately want to come clean when it comes to the truth about the health and safety of their main sources of income.
Regardless as to whether it’s potentially a health hazard or not, the question is, do you really want to be taking the risk by putting this kind of substance onto your skin?
So you may be asking, what’s the alternative?
Glad you asked as there are a number alternatives that are not only natural and toxin free, but also work a treat without the potential dangers of petrolatum based products.
5 Alternatives To Petroleum Based Skincare Products
Unrefined Coconut Oil
Extracted from the flesh of the coconut palm kernels, coconut oil has become very popular in recent years as a cooking ingredient due to its unique health-promoting medium-chain fatty acids.
But the benefits don’t stop there, as it’s also one of the best topical ointments you can use on dry skin as it contains a high level of phytonutrients and polyphenols.
Unrefined coconut oil is also an excellent moisturiser, antifungal and offers antibacterial properties to help strengthen the skin and remove dead cells from the skin's surface. It’s also antioxidant rich, which means that it can act as a sunblock and help prevent sunburn. Perfect for those living in Spain!
Cocoa butter or Theobroma Oil is extracted from the beans of the Theobroma Cacao tree common to Central and South America and is regularly used in the production of chocolate, which helps to give it that smooth melt-in-the-mouth sensation.
Cocoa butter is solid at room temperature, but will melt at body temperature.
You will find cocoa butter in many beauty products and it is great for healing dry, sensitive skin and preventing stretch marks during pregnancy.
Like coconut oil, cocoa butter is full of natural polyphenol and flavonoid antioxidants so acts as a great natural sunblock.
Shea butter as the name suggests has a thick, creamy, buttery feel about it and is a natural moisturiser. This makes it a great choice for dry lips and other parts of the body that need protecting.
Rich in vitamins A, E and F, Shea butter is great for the skin and can help to reduce skin inflammation.
Finally, Shea butter contains a number of essential acids such as oleic and stearic acids, which are excellent at nourishing the skin.
When purchasing Shea butter, try to find the raw, unrefined versions as they will maintain many of the beneficial properties, which is not always the case with the more refined versions.
Jojoba oil is actually a liquid plant wax and comes from the seed of the Simmondsia Chinensis plant (Jojoba) which is native to southern California, Arizona and Northwest Mexico.
Jojoba oil has been used for hundreds of years for its medicinal benefits and is a favourite of the native Americans who like to apply it to sore skin and bruises.
Jojoba oil has many uses such as a skin moisturiser, hair moisturiser, for fighting infections or used as a lip balm. You can even use it to remove your make-up.
As it’s a non-comedogenic, it won’t clog the pores, which can lead to skin conditions such as acne.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Olive oil has been used for thousands of years to smooth and moisturise the skin in fact, Cleopatra was said to be a huge fan!
Olive oil contains vitamin E, squalene and other compounds, which help prevent aging of the skin, helps with hydration and can reduce damage from free-radicals.
As olive oil has a comedogenic rating of 2, it may block the pores of those with certain skin types.
The only olive oil to use on the skin is organic, non-GMO, cold-pressed, extra virgin olive oil. All other olive oils are only suitable for cooking or for putting on your salads.
Of course, the great thing about living in Spain is that you are never too far away from an olive tree or two!
So there you go. Five natural and safe alternatives to petroleum jelly based skincare products.
Image courtesy of Ishikawa Ken https://www.flickr.com/photos/chidorian/