Katie’s conundrum…Hey Beauty Brains! Love your site, I’ve found it recently but I’m addicted. I have a question about the-one-and-only Vaseline. I use it for everything: lips, removing eye makeup, and as an lash conditioner. But I’ve been hearing that petroleum jelly is really bad for you, even claiming to cause breast cancer after long term use! What’s your say?I knew I could count on you! Thanks!
The Beauty Brains respond:
What a great question and one that many of your fellow Beauty Brainiacs wonder about too. The quick answer is this nonsense! There is no evidence that petroleum jelly causes breast cancer, skin cancer, or any other type of cancer. The people that are telling you it does are either misinformed, misguided or liars.
So, here’s the bottom line on Vaseline, aka petroleum jelly, aka petrolatum. It was first discovered in the late 1850’s and was later patented and sold to the general public in 1872. These facts are just included to show that it’s been around and used for a long time. This doesn’t prove that it’s perfectly safe, but it certainly is compelling evidence.
What is it? It is a by-product from the production of oil. In technical terms, it is a complex combination of hydrocarbons obtained as a semi-solid from dewaxing paraffinic residual oil. It consists predominantly of saturated crystalline and liquid hydrocarbons having carbon numbers predominately greater than C25.
What is it used for? In the beauty business, it is one of the best performing occlusive moisturizing ingredients you can use on your skin. No material has been shown to be better at improving skin moisture levels. The problem with this material is that it feels greasy, so cosmetic chemists spend a lot of time and effort trying to make less greasy feeling lotions that moisturize.
Is it safe? After combing through the published medical evidence over at PubMed we could find no studies that linked petroleum jelly to any cancers whatsoever. If someone is claiming such a link, it is not being done by a reputable scientific research organization. If you are curious, read this safety data that manufacturers of petroleum jelly must provide to users.
In Europe (EU) the only restriction on the use of this material is that you have to have a certification from the producer of petroleum jelly that it is free of carcinogens. This is required because SOME methods of production can result in petroleum jelly mixtures that have known cancer causing ingredients in them.
The Beauty Brains bottom line
Petroleum jelly will not cause cancer. It is perfectly safe and is an excellent ingredient for skin and hair care products. If someone`s telling you different ask them what they are trying to sell. No doubt, some natural alternative. Nonsense.
And if you’re curious, here are a host of other fun applications for petroleum jelly.