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Is petroleum jelly really banned in Europe?

Christine says (in response to our post on Does petroleum jelly cause cancer…)Perhaps it would be important to look a little further into this. The European Union has banned petroleum jelly and has it listed as a carcinogen. Please take a look at this very valuable link. You see, some of us (green store owners) do actually care about the people we bring products in for and are neither misguided, misinformed or trying to rip people off (yes I found that offensive) We do a lot more research and never just take someone’s word for it.

The Beauty Brains respond:

Thanks Christine we certainly agree with your advice of looking deeper into subjects like this. In fact, when we looked deeper into this particular topic we found out that your statement that petroleum jelly (PJ) is banned in the EU is not quite completely true. Allow us to peel back a few more layers of the onion to show you why…

Petroleum jelly was in a jam

As this article explains, sometime before 2004 the EU was flooded with low quality, unrefined PJ from Eastern Block countries. The petroleum jellies in question were dark yellow or brown in color and contained relatively high levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons which have been linked in to cancer. To prevent these dangerous carcinogens from reaching the public, the EU’s Dangerous Substances Directive banned all petroleum oils with the following caveat:

“The classification as a carcinogen need not apply if the full refining history is known and it can be shown that the substance from which it is produced is not a carcinogen.”

Refined petroleum jelly is safe and very effective

In other words, as long as the petroleum jelly is properly refined (following FDA guidelines) it is allowed in the EU just as it is in the US. (Note: refined PJ is very light in color.) So to say that petroleum jelly is banned is a little misleading; it’s more accurate to say that improperly refined petroleum jelly is banned.

If you still don’t believe us, check out the UK and French versions of Amazon.com where petroleum jelly products are still sold. If this ingredient were truly banned there’s no way they would still be on the market like this.

The Beauty Brains bottom line

Petrolatum continues to be one of the most safest and most effective skin moisturizing ingredients available.

Reference: http://davidsuzuki.org/issues/health/science/toxics/chemicals-in-your-cosmetics—petrolatum/

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • hsg December 1, 2013, 2:58 am

    It’s SO bizarre that people keep claiming this. I can only assume that Christina, and the others who make this claim, are Americans, or at least not residents of the UK and EU. If Christine lived in the EU, she could put her extremely valuable link aside for a moment and conduct a scientific test to see if petroleum jelly is available by visiting any supermarket, chemist or 7/11, where she will see it in abundance. I bought some from Tesco just the other day.


  • Masango Elizabeth August 19, 2016, 2:51 am

    I am thankful for the clarity as I was beginning to ban the use of petroleum. Keep the good work of alerting the nation

  • Nina February 4, 2019, 4:32 am

    Petrolatum jelly in EU is purified to contain no cancirogens. Idk how it is in US but here we have plenty of products with petrolatum jelly and they’re great moisturizers. If somebody’s afraid, nobody forces them to use but it’s generally considered safe (as it’s thoroughly purified). Certainly not banned, lol.

  • Tinea September 28, 2019, 7:54 pm

    I’ve used Petroleum Jelly for years , my skin looks good all the time. I have no problem with it. I will continue using it : live it so much.