Okay, they kinda rhyme, but that’s not where we’re heading. Have you read the ingredient list on a jar of Vaseline? ‘100% Pure Petroleum Jelly’. Petroleum, like what we also turn into . . . yup, you know where this is going!
Why did we start using petroleum on top of our bodies and how did they ever market it as being good for eczema and tender baby bottoms you might ask? Back in the 1800s workers on oil rigging platforms discovered that if they smeared the residue found in the bottom of the wells onto their skin it helped to lubricate it. A light bulb went on over someone’s head and a new product was born! Vaseline quickly became a household name. But petroleum jelly is far more pervasive than the blue tub. It’s in everything!
Petrolatum is found in lipstick, lotion, soap, body wash, sunscreen, deodorant, shampoo, conditioner, concealer, eye shadow, hair gel, shaving cream and countless products marketed for babies. It’s even found in ‘therapeutic’ products to treat rashes, wounds, eczema and acne.
What's Wrong with Petrolatum?
Bad for the planet - It’s derived from a non-renewable resource, crude oil.
Bad for skin - Vaseline and similar products block your pores. It might feel nice and smooth but by blocking your skin’s ability to breathe and draw moisture out of the air, it’s actually drying your pores. This can exacerbate skin conditions like eczema, rosacea and acne. Blocking pores means we’re sealing in the dirt! This is also bad for baby bottoms because we’re sealing in bacteria and yeast that aggravate diaper rashes.
Bad for health? - Wondering how oil rig gunk gets turned into a safe product? In order to ‘purify’ the oil, manufacturers have to refine it using carcinogenic chemicals called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons. In order to remove potential contamination, petroleum jelly has to be highly refined and is then graded according to how ‘clean’ the end product is. This is why the Environmental Working Group has given it a ‘moderate hazard’ rating and why the European Union has listed low scoring grades of petrolatum as dangerous substances. In Canada, cosmetics must meet the standards set by the United States Pharmacopeia. While Vaseline asserts it meets the highest purity standards, why use a product or support an ingredient that requires such intensive refining to make it non-toxic?
All-Natural DIY Goodness
There are so many wonderful all-natural alternatives to using petrolatum-containing products. One great place to start is to nourish your skin from the inside so we’re less prone to skin conditions, check out Joy’s post for great tips.
If you’re looking for something to replace Vaseline, here’s an easy DIY salve - Naturaline, hmm, Vaseclean. Maybe you’re better with the rhyming than I am!
*Suggest buying certified organic sunflower oil in a dark glass bottle. Avoid clear plastic bottles of sunflower oil because it's likely already rancid.
If you’re in the Toronto area and are interested in learning how to make Natural Baby Products , join Joy and I at Toronto Yoga Mamas on July 9th! Details here.