Talking Toxins : Petroleum (Petrolatum)

Written by
on September 19, 2017


Hi and welcome to Talking Toxins with Rachel…

Toxin of the week: Petroleum (Petrolatum)


So what is it?

It’s a byproduct of the oil industry, the gel like substance was found in the bottom of oil rigs back in the 1800s. Today it is known as “Vaseline or Petroleum Jelly.” Petroleum is an emollient, water repellant and not water soluble. It acts as a barrier when used on skin, does not allow the skin to breathe – which has both pros and cons.


What do I find them in?

Used in many cosmetic products such as lipstick, diaper creams, baby lotions, oils, healing ointments and just as Vaseline/petroleum jelly. Some use petroleum jelly as a sexual lubricant, but it can weaken latex condoms and it is not water soluble. In manufacturing, petroleum jelly is used as a lubricant for machinery.


Why should I be concerned?

Petroleum jelly comes in different grades, it is unknown if products contain any harmful toxins in beauty products. According to a Huffington Post article, “Vaseline brand states it is highly-refined, triple-purified and regarded as non-carcinogenic.” But there was a study by Columbia University regarding petroleum impurity polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs in breast tissue of some women with breast cancer including animals tested on too, according to the article “Side Effects of Petroleum” on Petroleum may also cause premature aging because skin does not receive oxygen (from barrier) and further may cause toxins with cosmetic products to be absorbed into the body as it creates a barrier, clogging pores. Another concern for using petroleum jelly in nasal passages is it can cause lipid pneumonia and should be used with caution in this manner.


So what can I do?

Be aware there are alternative options. Young Living has Rose Ointment and Animal Scents Ointment. If you are using a petroleum product, make sure to question if product is highly refined and purified to decrease risk of toxic exposure.



Federal Drug Enforcement Agency restricts petrolatum in food to 10 parts per million.



Rachel Kuehn
Wife, Mother, Nurse and Oil Lover!

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