Over 150 years ago, petroleum jelly was created. At the time, a Chemist was working on clarifying kerosene from the oil of killed sperm whales and saw an opportunity to develop a new product from the black gooey oil coming out from the ground in a recently discovered oil well near where he lived. He would then take the black oil and refine it many times until it became a clear gel-like substance, known today as Vaseline ®.
What is it, exactly?
Vaseline ® is 100% pure petroleum jelly. Petroleum jelly, is, chemically speaking a mixture of hydrocarbons that are a byproduct of the same oil we use in our cars and homes.
Clearly, not a sustainable product that we can ‘grow’ naturally!
How it’s used.
For many years, Vaseline has been used to treat many different skin conditions, to aid in the healing of wounds, to dry, chapped skin, and diaper rash. What isn’t as well known are the potential side effects of using Vaseline.
These side effects include allergies, infections, clogged pores, and hydrocarbon exposure. Petroleum jelly runs a high risk of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) contaminants linked to cancer. The European Union restricts the use of petrolatum in cosmetics and has set a PAH limit as well.
(Not so in the United States).
Another concern is that, according to studies, 40% of users that apply Vaseline to their lips or use it as a lubricant has tested positive for bacteria.
Lastly, inhalation of petrolatum can affect the lungs. A small percentage of individuals have reportedly developed lung infections due to petrolatum inhalation.
What to avoid.
Not only do you need to avoid Vaseline, but look for these ingredients and stay away.
- Anything ‘petroleum’ or ‘petrolatum’
- Mineral Oil
- Paraffin Wax
What to use.
Not only is petrolatum potentially harmful to use, but it is also harmful to our environment as a non-renewable resource. Look for ingredients such as shea butter, mango butter, beeswax, and other natural balms and salves including these sustainable alternatives.