Petroleum Jelly… On My Face?

Petroleum Jelly… On My Face?

I am an extremely fair skinned person. It could even be argued that somewhere buried deeply in my DNA is the genetic code for albinism. I am so fair skinned that to get my face as red as a strawberry, I simply have to lean over to tie my shoes.

When I was a little girl I had an incident with a flaming marshmallow on a camping trip with my grandparents. I caught my face on fire. I remember as an adult once again meeting a man who had been dating my oldest sister that summer. He hadn’t seen me since I was a little girl. He laughed and told me his strongest memory of me was seeing me running around town on my bicycle with Vaseline and zinc oxide slathered all over my face.

As an adult I am now not only dealing with skin issues because I am fair and left with sensitive skin after being burned. I am also entering menopause and having all sorts of dry skin unhappiness.

I have tried cheap creams and expensive creams. I have tried organic remedies and homemade ones. I could usually get plenty of moisturizing out of everything I tried. My real problem was that everything left my T-Zone burn aftermath red as a tomato. Also, my eyelids were always scaly no matter how faithful I was to moisturize.

What to do? Talk to a dermatologist. And what did the doctor advice? Did I walk away with half a dozen expensive prescriptions? Did I have a list a mile long detailing my new skin care regimen? No. I walked out with two words of advice. Petroleum jelly. Me mum was right all those years ago!

Exactly what is petroleum jelly? Basically, it’s fat. It’s a purified mix of hydrocarbons from petroleum. Does this mean I’m putting gasoline on my face? No. I am putting an emollient on my face that is oil-based. This type of lubricant provides long-lasting protection for dry skin. The aging process depletes the amount of lipids in my skin cells and petroleum jelly helps make up for this deficit.

Just to put my mind at ease, I took a look at the information page about the most popular brand name petroleum jelly, Vaseline. It defines petroleum jelly as a blend of waxes and mineral oils that was discovered in 1859. It creates a protective barrier between skin cells which preserves moisture within the skin allowing the natural healing process to accelerate. This moisture barrier prevents skin from drying out.

This 140 year old formula uses the finest ingredients that are triple purified through distilling, de-aerating, and filtering.  This process removes all impurities making it safe for use even on the chapped behind of a little baby. Petroleum jelly is hypo-allergenic which is one reason why dermatologists recommend it for skin conditions such as eczema and sensitive skin.

It has such a thick consistency, I was concerned that it would clog my pores. If it did, that would just create a completely new skin problem and one I would rather avoid. I was happy to learn that petroleum jelly is non-comedogenic. That means it doesn’t clog pores and cause troublesome acne.

Natural environmental conditions as well as soaps and diet all contribute to exacerbate my sensitive skin.  These elements strip natural, protective moisture from my middle age, drying skin. Many of the ingredients of other moisturizers irritate the sensitive skin cells of the areas of my face that were burned. The simplicity and purity of petroleum jelly’s ingredients moisturizes and protects without irritating my skin. Since it is quite normal for my body to experience about a pint of water loss daily, I can minimize that loss with this protective barrier. Although, I have to admit, it does leave me rather shiny looking.

Now, I know it is only normal to expect the website of this product to toot its own horn and praise the safety and effectiveness of its product. When I double checked their claims with other agencies, I was further assured that petroleum jelly is safe. The agency Health Canada declares petroleum jelly to be non-toxic. The Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association claims it to be “universally” safe.

Although I tried the natural route with coconut and olive oil, the nut oils irritated my skin. I also had not considered the environmental impact of these “green” oils. It seems there is no option for moisturizing my skin that does not leave some sort of footprint on the Earth. So, whether plant based or carbon based, it really makes no difference which I choose. I, too, am carbon based. I suppose, then, this is not a choice to be dictated by conscience but by what works for my skin. And, so far, the results have been wonderful. Moisturizing relief without the strawberry T-zone effect.

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