Petroleum jelly is attributed to numerous uses, but not all are true, and some are not even recommended. Discover the properties of Petrolatum and what to use it for, and in which cases it is not recommended.
Putting petroleum jelly on cracked lips is one of the gestures that we usually repeat, especially in winter, when temperatures drop. However, Vaseline has many other uses, and some of them you may not even know. But they have also been attributed to certain utilities that are not entirely true or could pose a health risk. Please keep reading and find out why to use this ointment and in which cases its use is not indicated.
The first thing to note, as explained by Amparo Violero, a scientist specializing in cosmetics, safety assessment, and toxicology, is that Vaseline is the commercial name of a substance, Petrolatum, or Petrolatum jelly, a saturated hydrocarbon (MOHS ) derived from oil.
And its origin as a balm came about by chance in 1859. When chemist Robert Chesebrough observes that workers who extract oil used a waxy substance that they obtain as waste in the process to treat burns and cuts that were made. So much was the confidence in its benefits that began to market it under the name Vaseline.
A controversial substance
Petroleum jelly is one of the ingredients that generate controversy when it is part of the composition of a cosmetic product. Explains Dr. Chemistry Dr. Raquel Marcos in her science and cosmetics blog, because it is derived from petroleum. It can be found in the INCI (International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients) as petrolatum or petrolatum jelly.
The European Commission indicates that Petrolatum is a safe ingredient and that no studies are showing that it is carcinogenic
This has caused a false belief to be generated that can be harmful to health, or even toxic, but it is not true. Amparo Violero, who also has a cosmetic scientific dissemination account called Nuclear Beauty, clarifies that “Petrolatum whose use is allowed in cosmetics is not only extracted. But is extensively refines and purified to remove any trace of other molecules that can imply a health risk. Such as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)”. Also, the European Commission states that it is a safe ingredient and that there are no indications of studies that prove it is carcinogenic.
Its texture is creamy, unctuous, and somewhat greasy, some properties that make it perfect for covering wounds, but that can become an inconvenience when applying it. For example, over the entire face, so it is usually includes in other products that do have a good facial finish. The pure version is odorless, although it is very common to find it with smells and flavors, in case it is intend for lip care.
Vaseline is a very good occlusive
Vaseline, although it is not moisturizing, can hydrate, as Amparo Violero explains, it creates a hydrophobic barrier, slowing the loss of skin hydration, which is known as occlusivity. Also, he tells us that it also forms a layer that protects against the entry of microorganisms and other particles. Something very useful against infections.
“It should be noted that since the skin does not breathe – this function belongs to the lungs – that the Petrolatum is occlusive is not a cause of toxin elimination problems. It can be very advantageous to apply it in cases of dry skin,” says Amparo.
Benefits and uses of petroleum jelly
The chemical Dr. Raquel Mateo adds that the occlusive and emollient property can be obtained in any product that includes only 5% concentration in its Petrolatum formula. But we are at the heart of the matter; these are 10 of the most widespread uses of petroleum jelly :
This is one of the best-known functions of petroleum jelly, which can be apply as a small layer on the lips. It mitigates the sensation of dryness and prevents the lips from becoming dehydrated in low temperatures or sun exposure. It is also often use as a method to relieve dryness of the nose area. Which can become drier with cold, or be irritates if you have a cold. It is advisable to choose a lip balm that also contains some moisturizing elements in its composition, such as hyaluronic acid, as this will act, and Petrolatum will seal, favoring the nourishment capacity of this delicate skin.
Help protect minor wounds
Vaseline, as we have said, serves as a protective screen against external agents. Something very useful in small wounds, such as cuts or scrapes, which tend to become easily infected. This is explained by the American Academy of Dermatology, which also adds that the Petrolatum will keep the wound moist and prevent the scab from appearing. Which takes longer to heal and usually leaves more scars. Keeping the clean area daily can dispense with the daily antibacterial ointments.
Soothes dry and cracked skin
Being occlusive petroleum jelly prevents moisture loss from the skin. Something especially beneficial in people who have dry skin, which flakes and may bleed. A trick that has been perpetuated in time is to apply a layer of this Petrolatum on the heels of the feet and place some socks on them; in this way, the cracked skin will improve its appearance. It is best to apply a moisturizer first to make it more effective.
Improves diaper rash
Dermatologist Lorea Bagazgoitia, author of the book ‘What the science of skincare says’ names in her blog about dermatology a study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics in which it was found that Vaseline as an effective method against dermatitis of the diaper of the babies; Also, it was much cheaper compares to using specific moisturizers.
Protects the skin with rosacea and psoriasis
Skins with rosacea and psoriasis can also benefit from the properties of Petrolatum. The first is characterize by a redness of the skin of which the origin is unknown. And that can be accompanied by stinging and dryness. According to a study conducted by two researchers from the University of Coimbra (Portugal), occlusives such as petroleum jelly are safe in the skin with rosacea. They may even be beneficial in treating that dryness. In the case of psoriasis, an investigation published in the journal Offarm included the following: “It is the most hydrating, and it has also been proven to have a certain antiproliferative effect.”
Regulates skin peptides
The body contains peptides that are the basis of certain proteins important to the skin. Such as elastin, keratin, and collagen. Analyzing the microbial activity of petrolatum researchers at The Rockefeller University realized that Petrolatum was able to improve the regulation of peptides in the epidermis, which could slow down the effects of skin aging.
Help to remove makeup
The most sensitive skins can be irritating with the use of micellar and cleansing waters. However, Petrolatum could be a perfect ingredient to include in a product for this task. As it drags makeup – even the water-resistant one with ease and without damaging the epidermis. If you think if it is dangerous for Petrolatum to enter the eyes, a study published in the Journal of Emergency Medicine indicated that it is completely safe.
Perfect for taking care of tattoos
If you have one of these drawings on your skin. Your tattoo artist certainly recommended you to use a product that includes this substance. And it is that Vaseline, as we have said, creates a protective layer on the skin that reduces the risk of infections and improves healing. Something perfect and necessary for tattoos to heal and maintain a good appearance.
Improves the appearance of split ends and dye marks
Another of the first aid that petroleum jelly can give us is related to the hair, since applying a small amount of Petrolatum at the end of the hair can hide the split ends. Of course, this can solve an emergency. But the ideal to improve the appearance of your hair is to go through the hairdresser and heal your hair. It is also a good option to avoid dye stains if you choose to dye your hair at home; To do this, apply petroleum jelly to the skin of the face near the birth of the hair. And so you will prevent these areas from coloring.
You put on some new shoes and begin to make chafing that can end in painful blisters. Unfortunately very common that may not happen to you if you have a tub of petroleum jelly in your bag or pocket. Using this product on the area that is in contact with another can reduce friction between the shoe and the foot, or between the thighs, a very common problem in overweight people or athletes.
Side-Effects of petroleum jelly
Until now we had focused on some of the most common uses of petroleum jelly. But it is also uses on other occasions when it should not be use, as in some cases it can be dangerous to health, such as:
People who are sensitive or allergic to petroleum products should avoid using petroleum jelly for any of the uses mentioned.
Without having good hygiene
If it is going to use in minor wounds, make sure that the area has been clean correctly. Because if this has not been done. The petroleum jelly layer will seal the area with the harmful microorganisms inside, which implies a higher risk of infection.
The American Academy of Dermatology indicates that people who are prone to acne avoid getting petroleum jelly on the skin of the face, as it can cause breakouts.
Although Petrolatum can be used as a method to prevent burns from losing water and healing better. A layer of this substance should not be applied just after the burn, as according to research published in The BMJ, its occlusive power could also retain the generated heat, increasing damage.
This is one of the uses most associated with petroleum jelly, but erroneously. The scientist specializing in cosmetics, safety assessment and toxicology. Amparo Violero has clarified that it is only intends for external use. And that it can be inconvenient if it uses during sex because “Vaseline weakens the structure of condoms latex. And in a 2013 study, it concludes that it could imply an increased risk of developing bacterial vaginosis”.
On the other hand, one of the great controversies of Petrolatumis its sustainability due to its petrochemical origin, one of the reasons for its bad reputation. That is why less and less is chosen to include it in cosmetic products, despite being a safe and cheap option.