Petroleum jelly, also known as petrolatum, is an odorless, tasteless semisolid mixture of hydrocarbons recognized by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) as an approved over-the-counter skin protectant. It is widely used in the cosmetic skincare industry found in more that half of all skincare products sold today. Not to be confused with industrial grade petrolatum, which may contain pore-clogging impurities, well-manufactured cosmetic grade petroleum jelly is non-comedogenic (does not block pores) and is not a skin irritant.
Petroleum jelly is the gold standard moisturizer as it reduces water loss through the skin by 98% creating an environment conducive for skin healing. In skincare formulations, it serves as an occlusive ingredient, one that physically prevents water loss from the skin surface.
Due to its lubricating and coating properties, petroleum jelly can be used to:
- Soothe dry cracked skin on problematic areas like elbows and knees
- Soften dry cracked heels
- Heal chapped lips
- Calm inflamed eyelids
- Protect skin around the nose when chaffed from wind or from over blowing the nose due to a cold
- Help earring insertion by applying to earring posts
- Prevent windburn on cheeks
- Improve nail health by rubbing onto nails and around nail cuticles
- Tame runaway eyebrows
- Assist in hair grooming
- Prevent inflammation in areas that may chafe by reducing friction between skin and clothing during exercise for cyclists, wrestlers, runners and other athletes
- Enhance wound repair when applied to superficial cuts and lacerations
- Treat diaper rash
- And, used as a negative control by allergists and dermatologists for allergy testing as the allergic reaction rate of petroleum jelly is practically zero
Cometic grade petroleum jelly is available in local drugstores and pharmacies and is extremely affordable. A jar of petroleum jelly should be in everyone's bathroom vanity.
What are preservatives? Preservatives are compounds that when added to a skincare product, prevent the growth of microorganisms like bacteria, mold and fungus within that product.
Why are preservatives necessary? Microorganisms are ubiquitous and grow whenever conditions are optimal. These opportunists grow in the presence of water, at any pH between 3 and 10, and in temperate environments. Almost all skincare products sold on skincare aisles today contain water, have a pH of approximately 5 - 6 and are stored at room temperature. Perfect conditions for organism growth. Since most of us prefer our creams and lotions without contaminates, in addition to the fact that the Food Drug & Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) prohibits the sale of adulterated skincare products (including contaminated ones) most skincare products require preservatives to be deemed safe for use.
What is the best preservative? Unfortunately, there is no perfect preservative. Nor is there one preservative that can prevent the growth of all organisms in all formulations. Some preservatives are only effective at a certain pH, while others may not be ideal because they change the pH of the formulation. Due to the chemistry of the preservative or the charge, some are not compatible with certain ingredients that may be found in the formulation. Some preservatives can prevent growth of organisms but cannot kill microorganisms that are introduced into the product. Hence the need for many preservatives, and often, more than one is found in any given product.
Why is there so much controversy regarding preservatives? Consumers are misinformed. Sensationalism sells, and all too often, health and beauty magazines, media outlets, and erroneous do-gooders take full advantage. Preservatives in skincare products are used in tiny doses to prevent the growth of and kill microorganisms. Preservatives disrupt cell membranes and protein structure; they interfere with metabolic systems and enzyme function of microorganisms. That's how they function. That's why we use them! Misleading fear campaigns imply that the activity of these preservatives have the same effect on us. The tiny concentrations of preservatives used in skincare products that have these favorable for us, untoward effects on microorganisms, cannot and do not have the same effects on 170 pound adults (or even on 10 pound infants.)
Preservatives are used in concentrations that are well within the safety limits determined by government regulatory authorities and science in the United States, Australia, Japan, and in the European Union. Appropriate use of these preservatives assures the safety of the finished skincare product.
Related information: Paraben Story
ANTIPERSPIRANT VS DEODORANT
Deoderants are cosmetics formulated to mask body odor, to make the skin smell better. They commonly contain odor-masking fragrance. They can be formulated as aerosols and sprays, pumps, roll-ons, solid sticks, gels and creams. Deoderants do not prevent sweating. Antiperspirants are over-the-counter drugs, regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They are usually formulated with aluminum-based compounds with the intent on preventing sweat from reaching the skin surface by creating a temporary plug within the sweat duct. All sweat is odorless until it combines with bacteria found on the skin surface. By preventing perspiration, antiperspirants are also deoderants.
DO I NEED A TONER?
Toner, the skincare product that is as varied in formulation as is the list of their alleged benefits. The benefits touted by health and beauty magazines for toners are endless. They supposedly cleanse, shrink pores (note: like the length of your arms, pore size does not change), remove dirt, pollen, and pollution, hydrate, soothe and calm, repair, balance the skin's pH, nourish, stimulate blood circulation, function as an antibacterial, clear blemishes, and more.
Toners can be sprayed on, dabbed on with a cotton ball, applied with guaze or a washcloth, or with the fingers. Some are used with water, some without.
Toners come without alcohol, these claim to "refresh." They come with little alcohol (up to 20%), also known as tonics, not to be confused with the traditional quinine containing carbonated beverage. And they can be formulated with a high percentage of alcohol (20-60%), also called an astringent or drying agent, which may cause redness, irritation, or burning in individuals with sensitive or normal skin.
Want to cleanse the skin? Use a mild soap-free cleanser. Want to hydrate the skin? Apply a well-formulated moisturizer. Have oily or acne-prone skin, see a dermatologist. Skip the toner!
WHY FINGERTIPS WRINKLE
Did you ever wonder why the tips of the fingers wrinkle like a prune when exposed to water for a long period of time? People often think that osmosis causes water to enter the outer layer of skin making the fingertips swell. But since the 1930's, scientists have known that fingertips don't swell or wrinkle when there is nerve damage to the fingers, even with prolonged submersion in water.
So if it's not osmosis, what causes this phenomenon? A recent study may give us an answer. Mark Changizi, an evolutionary neurobiologist at 2AI Labs in Boise, Idaho, and his colleagues, propose that wrinkling of the fingertips has an evolutionary function. That our nervous system, by causing vasoconstriction of blood vessels below the skin, is responsible for this involuntary reaction that offers an advantage in gripping wet objects.
The study demonstrated that wrinkled fingertips make it easier to grasp objects underwater. Participants in the study had to move dry and wet objects with both dry fingertips, and again, with wrinkled fingertips. The results showed that participants were able to move wet objects 12% faster with wrinkled fingertips than with dry ones. But wrinkled fingertips made no difference when it came to moving dry objects. Basically, when the pads of the fingers are wrinkled, they provide a better grip in wet conditions, like treads on a car tire that increase the surface area of tire on the road.
So why do our fingertips wrinkle when in water? Our brain causes this evolutionary trait to enhance the gripping ability of the fingers underwater! Perhaps this was beneficial to our ancestors who might have had to gather food from wetlands and streams.
And if it happens to you, don't worry, it goes away all on its own. Skin is truly an amazing organ!
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Hello, and welcome to FryFace!
I've been a New York based dermatologist for over 25 years. I love music. I love triathlons. I love chemistry. (I love petroleum jelly.) I study skincare ingredients and product formulation. I listen to skincare "advice" from self-proclaimed ......Read More