6 Reasons to Avoid Petroleum Jelly on Your Skin

PJ Jonas
goat milk soap

Early in 2006, I had all the children (6 at the time) in the bathtub.  While they were playing around, I picked up the bottle of baby wash I had always used.  For the first time ever, I looked at the ingredient list and I was horrified when I realized that it was full of chemicals and petroleum based chemicals.  

I immediately decided that I was never going to buy another bottle and that I would learn how to make my own soap. Thus began my soapmaking journey that would eventually lead to the launch of Goat Milk Stuff.

A lot of people ask me why I was so upset about the fact that there were petroleum based chemicals in the baby wash.  After all, most people have been told that petroleum jelly is good for your skin.  

Personally, I disagree.  I have no desire to put anything made from crude oil (no matter how refined) on my children's skin or on my skin.  That doesn't seem natural or healthy to me.  And if you're concerned about saving our environment, because it comes from crude oil, petroleum jelly is not a renewable resource.

Here are 6 more specific reasons why I don't use petroleum jelly as any type of skin care.  

1. Petroleum jelly may potentially prevent the elimination of toxins.  Your skin releases a lot of toxins and because petroleum jelly creates a barrier that seals off your skin, it can prevent your body from realeasing toxins.  So these toxins then remain in your body, potentially doing harm.

2. Petroleum jelly may potentially cause yeast infections.  Petroleum jelly is promoted because it can seal off your skin from water and air, thereby preventing windburn and helping your skin stay moisturized.  Unfortunately, the flip side is that because petroleum jelly doesn't allow your skin to fully breathe, it can create a warm, moist place which is perfect for yeast and fungal infections.  This is especially true if you're using it as diaper rash prevention.  

3. Petroleum jelly may potentially clog pores. Cosmetic grade petroleum jelly is classified as "non-comedogenic" which means it is not supposed to clog pores and worsen acne. However, because it provides a moisture barrier, there is the potential for it to trap dirt and oil which can clog pores.  There also seems to be a lot of people who have found that petroleum jelly worsens their acne.  More studies appear to be needed to clarify this issue.

4. Petroleum jelly is difficult to remove from your skin.  Petroleum jelly is not water-soluble, so it is difficult to wash off your skin.  This can lead to build up and irritation.

5. Petroleum jelly doesn't actually add any moisture to your skin. Petroleum jelly does not add any moisture to your skin, it just seals everything off and gives a false sense that your skin is hydrated.

6. Petroleum jelly needs to be highly refined to remove all contaminants. Petroleum jelly often contains a variety of contaminants including carcinogenic ones that need to be removed.  Vaseline brand is reputed to do a great job at this, but some of their competitors may not be so diligent.

When it comes to taking care of my family's skin, I want to use products that are natural and that I feel are healthy.  It doesn't make sense to me that even though petroleum jelly can eat away at latex, it is touted as being good for your skin.  

I believe that we live in a world that is full of toxins.  It is important to me that I eliminate as many of these toxins as I have control over.  That's why we eat healthy foods and use our goat milk soap on our skin.  But there are still contaminants in the air and in the items that we come in contact with.  One major way that our body eliminates these toxins is through our skin, and so to me, anything that creates a barrier over our skin is best avoided. 

Do you use petroleum jelly as part of your skin care routine for you or your family?

Goat Milk PJ

Note: After writing this, several people shared with me that they were told to put petroleum jelly on their feet before bed.  I would suggest that our foot care pack is a better for taking care of your feet!