Petroleum Jelly: Erstwhile Beauty Secret or Silent Killer?


Every Indian kid grew up with that little bottle of Vaseline that was constantly being slathered on parched lips, dry elbows and cracked heels. Especially in winter. It was always there in the background ready to be put to good us!

But did any of us stop, and think about what was in them? I was an extremely curious kid and honestly enjoyed reading labels of every single product in the house.

A bit nerdy? Yes.

A great way to learn about what we were getting exposed to? Hell, yeah!

So when I saw the words “Petroleum Jelly” as the only ingredient in Vaseline, I decided to research further. For some reason I always assumed it to be an inky black substance which jiggled like Flubber. Alas! The truth wasn’t that cute.

Petroleum Jelly is a byproduct of the oil refining process and that means that it isn’t sustainable, and thereby not eco friendly. Although all impurities and harmful parts are removed in the refining process there is still some debate regarding the toxicity of Vaseline.

When we apply Vaseline on our skin we are assuming that it is moisturizing it and ensuring the dry patches disappear. But the truth is that Vaseline merely forms a barrier between the air and your skin making the skin appear healthy while it may just be camouflaging the underlying condition.

It creates a waterproof barrier on your skin which can trap in bacteria and dust. While it is non-comedogenic and isn’t supposed to block pores trapping in unsavory particles can do the job instead.

Acne sufferers and those seeking anti-aging benefits would be better suited to products that actually impart moisture to the skin, i.e. humectants.

So what are these mythical humectants, you ask?

Here are a few to get you started:

  1. Coconut Oil - Coconut Oil is a great moisturizing and anti-bacterial oil that can replenish your skin. It’ll leave it as soft and supple as a baby’s bottom! But be sure to apply a thin layer to not suffer from an excessively greasy face.
  2. Beeswax- This is a waxy compound that is actually very similar to Vaseline but completely skin and environment friendly. It is found in a lot of lip balms and provides that glossy layer to seal in moisture.
  3. Shea Butter- An African nut butter that I have recently fallen in love with that is rich in fatty acids to not only moisturize but rebuild the collagen in your skin.
  4. Jojoba Oil- A light oil that resembles the sebum found in our skin and can suit all skin types. 

Here's a Pro Tip:

If you suffer from dehydrated skin like I do apply a thin layer each of coconut oil, shea butter, grapeseed oil and aloe vera gel before sleeping. Apply it in the order mentioned and you’ll wake up with beautifully moisturized and supple skin!

Let me know in the comments below if this article was useful and if you have some great tips to share with our readers!

Author: Nivanya M


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