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Mar 162011

Everybody needs a heavy-duty moisturizer in the winter for rough hands, feet and other parts of the body. Petrolatum or petroleum jelly and mineral oil seem to fit the bill. It would surprise many to know that they do nothing for your skin and may cause more harm than good.

Is petroleum jelly bad for skin is a very common question among it’s users. Petroleum jelly is a gelatinous substance initially seen on oilrigs. It seemed to be beneficial for burns, may be because it formed a protective coating on the burns which was not affected by water and so kept germs out. Now we know that petroleum jelly causes blisters, as it does not allow heat from the burnt area to escape. The trapped heat causes more harm and discomfort.

Petrolatum is white petroleum jelly. It is a cheap product and is often used in cosmetic preparations which are sold as moisturizers. These two products are not absorbed by the skin but remain on the surface only. You can gauge this by the fact that even a long time after applying them your skin feels greasy. You can actually wipe them off with a tissue. Similarly, if you try to rub in baby oil, which comprises mainly of mineral oil, you will not be successful. It will stain clothes and the skin will feel oily. Tanning is also more when these products are used.

There are side effects and dangers of this product as well. The most frightening thing is that these products may actually be carrying carcinogenic or cancer causing ingredients. These ingredients get attached to them when chemicals are used during manufacture. As they are cheap and used by the smaller companies, neither the raw material nor the final products are checked for harmful ingredients.

The safest bet for moisturizing the skin is plant based oils. The plants rich in oil are olive, avocado, mustard and grape seed. Shea butter is best to use at night as it is heavy and penetrates into the skin promoting healing in chapped and flaky skin. Plant based oils are required by law to be tested for pesticide and herbicide residues and are not likely to contain harmful chemicals.

Another advantage is that plant oils closely resemble sebum, the natural oil produced by the human skin. They are thus tolerated and absorbed very well. Cooking oils may be used for moisturizing the skin, but emulsified plant oils are the best. They do not leave your skin looking oily and shiny.

The best time to moisturize your skin is after you clean your face in the morning and before going to bed. Use a plant based oil and gently rub it in. Use upwards strokes to massage your skin so that there is no formation of wrinkles. You will soon have a healthy soft skin.