Petroleum Based Products, Yay or Nay?

Should We Use Petroleum Based Products?

Ever since I have a Princess who has really bad skin, I have been buying a lot of emollients. You can see it in my reviews such as Princess┬áBrat’s Review of SKincare┬áto her MooGoo Review, forgive me if I have lost count of the brands I got for here.

And since I’m a pharmacist, sometimes I am ingredient conscious. Other times, when it seems that I am not, it because there is simply no other choice. If only these products have a percentage of its ingredients, that would be good. Then we can know how much petroleum based is in a cream/ lotion.

Keywords People Avoid Like A Plague


There is a lot of names manufacturers use to describe a petroleum based product. Most common being petrolatum, or petroleum jelly. Other famous terms are the paraben, as they are derived from the “parent”. Usually parabens are preservatives, because they are long chains of carbon and tend to not have much moisture. Bugs love water, it’s their home.

So having paraben can seriously disrupt bacteria trying to make a home in your cream. The downside is that, they are said to be carcinogenic, as in they can cause cancer. There are some links here and there, as the body actually cannot break down inorganic stuff. So it is wise to really think twice before getting something with petroleum based products in it.

What’s My Problem Then?

Being in Australia, I am blessed with strict rules on manufacturing and importation of skin care products. Even then, I still see it. Like the Aveeno Baby, which is supposed to be baby friendly. It does contain some petrolatum, but not sure if it is high in concentration. On the other note, this works pretty well. Aveeno Baby keeps the skin hydrated well enough.

So if Aveeno uses it, it must be safe right?

I am not sure, sometimes it is more due to the costs than safety. Although I would like to believe that the R&D department has decided that it is safe, somehow I doubt that.

Stuffs that Don’t Have Parabens/ Petroleum Based

Again, Australia does have a lot of products that are geared towards the organic ingredients, without the premium. And the world is not totally ignorant about the dangers of using inorganic substances in skincare. Not only the skin might absorb it, our body definitely is unable to break it down.

It might accumulate around the lymph nodes, and probably that is how cancers start out? I am not sure, bad enough that I have to watch my kid to avoid her eating creams now. The downside of organic base skin care is that it does not very long lasting, when you compare it with traditional formulations.


It is just not as occlusive, because the fatty chains have holes to allow air (and moisture) to pass through. If you suffer from dry skin, this is good news. But this also means that your skin will have trouble getting moisture out, and sometimes sweat accumulates under the cream. In normal people that is fine, but for those with sensitive skin, it can mean a breakdown of the natural barrier, and~ flare up.

Because our skin is not meant to be constantly wet, so the structure weakens and breaks down if you actually let moisture accumulate. Yes, I am aware the Vaseline story, about how people would apply on their faces and they look like they haven’t aged one bit.

Let me remind you that we live in a different era now, not only is our UV a lot stronger, the air is much more polluted too! Our fore-mothers have fresh air and loads of exercise to remain healthy, while our lifestyle involves sitting on a chair before a computer. The odds are severely stacked against us.

Will You Be Avoiding?

At present, I am avoiding it if I can. It is not very hard, as a lot of brands are becoming more health conscious. Not to mention the people are moving to DIY if the brands do not meet their demands.

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It is just not worth wondering what if, especially when the alternative is not expensive. I would not say that it is great or good, but I do not mind using it a few more times. Babies have thinner skin, and using Petroleum based products might mean that her skin absorbs a lot of more it. Somehow I am not comfortable with that, I might sound unreasonable, but better safe than sorry.

Alternatives to Petroleum

Most oils have the carbon chain, it is that plant based oils are usually polyunsaturated. Not only that, they can oxidize/ turn rancid a lot quicker than the inorganic chain, which will remain fine even if you leave it out. Current favorites might be coconut and rapeseed oil, but even the humble olive oil has enough nutrients like Vitamin E to give benefit.

A long time ago, people would even use animal fat. Pork fat is a favorite because it is oily and easy to render. The downside is that it prevents people from using their hands properly as things are slipping out of hands. Not to mention the smell of having animal fat on your hands.

Other thing that substitutes petroleum is beeswax, mainly for its function in waterproofing. Beeswax will degrade over time, and people use it on chapped lips instead of Vaseline. Beeswax can be expensive, as you have to get them from the bees. But it is edible and you can be sure that the body can get rid of it safely.

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8 thoughts on “Petroleum Based Products, Yay or Nay?

  1. Would you consider Lanolin a great alternative Ailyn? I know Lanolin based products are supposed to be wonderful for very dry skin. Even ten years ago mum’s were still using Vaseline on their babies bums, mum’s today probably still do it too because it was always recommended to prevent nappy rash. When it comes to bubs health though it’s just not worth the risk if you can find alternatives.

  2. I know there is a lot of confusing evidence out there and none of it is conclusive so I think it is best to go with your gut in this case. Perhaps a short term usage could be best if there is no alternative?

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