Why Petroleum in Skincare Isn’t Always Good + Products That Don’t Contain It

Is it really safe to use?
by The Candy Staff   |  May 9, 2021
Image: (LEFT TO RIGHT) SHUTTERSTOCK, BYS PHILIPPINES
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When it comes to skincare, it's an important habit to check the label and see what makes up our favorite products. There are popular ingredients that we love using, only to find out that they're not always the hero ingredient we think they are.

One such ingredient that has garnered mixed opinion is petroleum, commonly found in fan-favorite product petroleum jelly. But what exactly does it do and is it really safe to use?

What is petroleum?

Petroleum, also known as petrolatum, is an occlusive—which basically means that it locks in moisture. Apart from petroleum, other types of occlusives include dimethicone and silicone. According to Byrdie, petroleum is a "mixture of natural mineral oils and waxes" and is often in a semi-solid form. It is most commonly used in moisturizers for its ability to retain moisture.

Is petroleum in skincare bad?

Not necessarily—it is safe to use according to pros—and there are a couple of benefits from using it. For instance, the American Academy of Dermatology Association says using petroleum jelly can help heal minor wounds and keep them from drying out. It’s also popular in relieving dry skin and lips.

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But it also isn't always good. In an article on Huffpost, Dr. Alan Dattner said that petroleum jelly, if not refined properly, would contain remnants that are said to be carcinogenic or cancer-causing. While some skincare companies exercise due diligence to make sure these harmful components are removed from their products, other companies might not be as careful and it's hard for the general public to determine which companies have done so and which have not.

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Another reason to be careful with the use of petroleum jelly is when it is being used as a moisturizer. In the same article by Huffpost, makeup artist Katey Denno points out that, while petroleum jelly can lock in moisture and keep skin hydrated, it also poses the risk of clogging your pores when misused. 

Skincare products that don't contain petroleum:

While there are pros to petroleum on your skin, there are also certain risks you're taking when using it, especially if you don't know how to properly utilize its benefits. If you'd prefer to stay away from the potentially harmful effects of petroleum there are several products on the market that don't make use of the ingredient.

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Skin by BYS

BYS Cosmetics is known for their makeup products, but the brand recently launched its first skincare line called Skin by BYS. The products are carefully crafted to be hypoallergenic and free of harmful chemicals, including petroleum, artificial colors, propylene glycol, MEA, DEA, TEA, phthalates, triclosan, parabens, and sulphates.

Available at: Watsons, The SM Store, and online on Watsons and ShopSM

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Extra Gentle Milk Jelly Cleanser, P499, Watsons

Extra Glow Face Cream, P599, Watsons

Farmacy

Skincare line Farmacy promises the use of clean ingredients. The brand does not use synthetic fragrances, pthalates, and petroleum, parabens, formaldehyde, and GMO ingredients in their products.

Available at: Sephora

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Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm, P1,920, Farmacy

RMS Beauty

Similarly, RMS Beauty prides itself for opting out of the use of the following in their makeup and skincare products: synthetic fragrance, parabens, petroleum, pthalate, sulfate, and talc.

Available at: Sephora

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Lip & Skin Balm, P1,700, Sephora

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