When I was a teenager I carried at least 2 or 3 lip balms with me everywhere. It allowed me to lose one (or two) and still be OK. Sounds dramatic but I’m not kidding. If I didn’t apply lip balm every 20 minutes or so, after an hour my lips would be cracking and sore. I was addicted. It seemed odd that the more lip balm (moisturizer) I applied to my lips the drier they became.
Odd in the same way that my friend’s legs are still very very dry after applying the same “ultra intensive” moisturizer for years. Surely my lips should have been soft and smooth and my friend’s legs silky and moisturized after applying all that product?
My all time worst ingredient, the one one I hate more than any others is petroleum (mineral oil, paraffin liquidium). Firstly because I believe it was a major factor in my eczema and secondly because it is such a con.
Why it’s bad:
Petroleum is a by-product of the oil and gas industry. It is most commonly contaminated with all sorts of bad things but the worst is PAH’s (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), Many studies suggest that regular exposure – like rubbing it in your body – has strong links to cancer. So much so that in the UK petrolatum is classified as a carcinogen and can only be used in cosmetics if it can be proven to be free of PAHs. Lucky UK readers! This restriction does not apply to Canada or the US. On a slightly less scary but still very important note, PAHs are skin irritants and cause allergic reactions. (It is scary to think that aqueous creams, which are petrolatum and water, are the number one recommendation for dry, irritable skin conditions by doctors.)
Petrolatum also blocks the skin’s ability to excrete toxins. It basically coats the skin like plastic. This often causes blocked pores and acne. This is why most people have the association that using oils on your faces causes spots. Oils do if they are mineral oil, they don’t if they are plant oils.
Petroleum interferes with the skin’s ability to moisturize itself. (This is why my lips cracked, my friend’s legs got drier and a it was a contributing factor to my eczema.) As we lose moisture (oil and water) from the surface of our skin, our skin senses it and produces more to replace it. If we cover our faces/lips/bodies in plastic, oops sorry petroleum, our skin never gets the message that it needs to produce more oil, so doesn’t. As long as we continue to apply the petroleum we may never notice that our skin is drying out. However as our skin becomes more and more parched we must apply the petroleum more and more often. Do you need to use hand cream many times a day? Do you use lip balm all day? Check the ingredients.
Petroleum is cheap! Now, cheap is not a bad thing. What is bad is that many companies use petroleum as a base for their very expensive products. Now, That’s a con!
Please do a quick check of all your creams and lotions, especially if you apply them regularly because you have dry, itchy, sore or allergic skin. Make a swap to plant oil based products. I really believe this was key in keeping my skin soft and smooth and free from eczema.