The Truth About Petrolatum

wolfandmoroko the truth about petrolatum

The story goes that in 1930, Florence Nightingale Graham, better known as cosmetics entrepreneur Elizabeth Arden, created the famous 8 Hour Cream Skin Protectant.

It is the stuff moisturizing dreams are made of, soothing and effective on the skin. The reason behind its moisturizing prowess is petrolatum – the best occlusive in skin care. You may wonder how this moisturizer constantly appears on beauty awards lists when it contains petrolatum, an ingredient we have heard constantly being bashed.

You may have heard that petrolatum clogs pores, causes cancer and premature aging. Thankfully science has proven that is all false. Here is the truth about petrolatum.

Petrolatum Does Not Cause Cancer

Cosmetics grade petrolatum is purified and does not contain toxic compounds known as Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs). PAHs are toxic hydrocarbons which are formed during during the incomplete burning of commercial grade fuel or “other organic substances like garbage, tobacco or charbroiled meat.” Source

According to the Beauty Brains, they haven’t found legitimate, reputable studies that link cosmetics grade petrolatum to any form of cancer. Also note that,”In the European Union, manufacturers using petrolatum as a raw material must 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.”

Petrolatum Does Not Clog Pores

This assumption may come from the greasy feel that petrolatum has to it. However, do not fret, petrolatum is non comedogenic-it does not clog pores. You would only experience breakouts using petrolatum if:

  1. you applied it on dirty skin
  2. you used it together with other ingredients that may irritate your skin e.g. coconut oil. Read this and this on which oils could suit your skin type.

This is because petrolatum, an excellent occlusive, will ‘seal’ the moisture and the other ingredients to the skin. So if you have applied an irritating ingredient to the skin, it won’t go anywhere.

Petrolatum Does Not Cause Premature Aging

Petrolatum is actually one of the best ingredients you can have in your age well arsenal. According to Futurederm, by nature, “petrolatum is hydrophobic which means that it repels water.”

When applied, it forms a protective barrier on the skin, soothing and healing any irritation. It’s also a key ingredient in any well formulated moisturizer, since it forms a film over the skin, keeping  much needed moisture in.

If you have dry skin like I do, the Elizabeth Arden 8 Hour Cream is a wonderfully soothing moisturizer. The scent might throw you off at first  ( thankfully, there is a fragrance free version) but it definitely gets the job done.

If you can’t get your hands on the 8 Hour Cream, a cheaper and more widely available substitute is Vaseline Pure Petroleum Jelly. It’s amazing and has many uses that you can read about here.

What is your take on petrolatum? Yay or nay?


This is not a sponsored post. Any opinion expressed is 100% my own.

Kindly note that I can’t guarantee that all of the make-up and skincare products I recommend will suit you. Everyone’s skin is different and it’s possible to be allergic to anything. Wherever possible, patch test your products before purchasing.

Image by Clare Oparo


5 thoughts on “The Truth About Petrolatum

  1. I love your blog! Real science here. I’m glad you disclaimed this post with the fact that some methods of production can result in carcinogens being present. The EU probably has the most stringent cosmetic regulation in the world.
    But, I think for us in the third world, I’d rather stay away from petrolatum products until we can have a bit more regulation on what’s on the market. I’ll stick to shea butter 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: How do Occlusives Keep Skin Moisturized? |

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