You probably have a jar of Vaseline buried somewhere in your medicine cabinet. Millions of people swear by it as a remedy for chapped lips, congestion, diaper rash and dry skin. Unfortunately, the popular product is more harmful than many realize.
What Is Petroleum Jelly?
Petroleum jelly, commonly known by the brand name Vaseline, is a byproduct of the oil refining process. It was originally found coating the bottom of oil rigs in the mid-1800’s. As a byproduct of the oil industry, it’s an unsustainable resource and far from eco-friendly.
How Does It Work?
Used in everything from lotions to baby products, petroleum jelly works by creating a protective barrier on the skin to hold in moisture. The waterproof barrier it creates on the skin blocks pores and can lock in residue and bacteria. When used on a burn or a sunburn, it locks in heat and can block the body’s ability to heal. That’s not all. You need to stop using Vaseline for these four reasons:
1. It Contains Harmful Hydrocarbons
The skin is unable to metabolize petroleum jelly, so it sits as a barrier on the skin until it wears off. This blocks the body from gaining any benefit from the substance. A 2011 study found strong evidence that the mineral oil hydrocarbons Vaseline contains are “the greatest contaminant of the human body.”
2. It Promotes Collagen Breakdown
Due to the barrier that petroleum jelly creates on the skin, it blocks the skin’s ability to breathe and absorb nutrients. This can cause the skin to pull the moisture and nutrients it needs from within, leading to collagen breakdown.
3. It Can Lead To Estrogen Dominance
Estrogen dominance occurs when the body has high levels of estrogen and low levels of progesterone. It has been linked to infertility, menstrual problems, allergies and autoimmune problems. Petroleum jelly contains chemicals called xenoestrogens which are believed to increase estrogen problems
4. It Can Cause Pneumonia
Although rare, a condition known as lipid pneumonia can occur when small amounts of petroleum jelly are inhaled and build up in the lungs. Because the body can’t metabolize or break down the substance, a severe inflammation in the lungs can occur.
Natural Alternatives To Vaseline
There are several natural alternatives to petroleum jelly that you can use without worrying about health risks. If you’re looking for a simple alternative, try one of these options:
- Shea Better – High in Vitamins A, E and F, shea butter works to nourish the skin through the beneficial fatty acids it contains. It can also help reduce inflammation and increase collagen productions.
- Beeswax – A great alternative to petroleum jelly is beeswax. It can be blended into homemade beauty products to protect the skin. Add it to a homemade lip balm or body cream.
- Coconut Oil – This oil is loaded with health benefits. It works to nourish the skin through its fatty acids, lauric acid and anti-inflammatory compounds.
- Cocoa Butter – Cocoa Butter contains antioxidants and beneficial fatty acids. It may even help reduce signs of aging!