Using petroleum jelly for skin moisturizing is a classic skin-care routine that has followed generations. Going old-school can be good for many things, but unfortunately, this is one skincare routine that you should not follow. Millions of those who used any form of petroleum jelly have switched over to alternatives. And this is why you should too –
What is petroleum jelly and where does it come from?
Petroleum jelly or petrolatum was discovered in the 1800s at the bottom of oil rigs and has been in our medicine cabinets since the 19th century. Even though the petroleum jelly in your cabinet is more refined than the one produced in the 19th century- it is still an oil by-product.
In its purest form, petroleum jelly is supposedly safe, however, petroleum jelly has impurities and these contaminants can have carcinogens- i.e. cancer-causing properties like polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs).
So how is petroleum jelly bad for your skin?
Simply put- applying petroleum jelly on your skin is like putting plastic on your skin. It creates an illusion of moisturized skin and is a quick fix that makes your skin feel hydrated for the moment.
The long term benefits, however, are nil.
Since petroleum jelly is water-repellent and not water-soluble, it forms a barrier over your skin. It traps the moisture below this barrier and creates an illusion of hydration. It also, however, traps toxins, dirt, and other contaminants and keeps moisture out.
If you have dry skin and are looking for skincare products that can truly get rid of dry skin, then you must look beyond petroleum jelly.
Why is Lanolin a better option for skincare?
As explained by Dr. Carol Janik and Caroline Fulop – “The key difference between lanolin and petroleum-based products lies in their properties. Lanolin is classified as an emollient whereas Petrolatum is classified as an occlusive”.
As per research emollients are oils and lipids that spread easily on the skin and offer partial obstruction that results in hydration. These emollient lipids resemble those naturally found in the skin and have been shown to improve the rate of the barrier repair. On the other hand, occlusive like petroleum jelly forms a layer on the surface of the skin and moisturize by retarding the evaporation of water.
This difference in the properties between the petroleum jelly and lanolin-based products, combined with the fact that lanolin has a high-fat content (skin loves fat) makes lanolin better for skincare. It keeps your skin plump, preventing evaporation especially in dry environments.
Not only does it keep the moisture from evaporating from the top layer of the skin, but it also contains vitamin D which is crucial in maintaining the well-being of your skin. Its common knowledge that deficiency of vitamin D can be devastating for your skin.
Since vitamin D is water-soluble- the fat-rich lanolin is excellent at delivering its good components to the skin where it can defend the skin against diseases like skin cancer. Vitamin D offers protection to the skin by boosting its immunity and creating/maintaining the skin barrier. In this way, it helps with healing too.
While lanolin is great for skin, people allergic to wool must naturally avoid it. We can all agree, however, that lanolin’s chemical components are a great ally for the skin in preventing cracked skin, dryness, dermatitis, eczema, etc.