A lot of people who are concerned about the personal care and beauty products they put on their skin want to know why petroleum based wetting agents are bad, and why they should be avoided in things like lotions, creams, deodorants, hair products and the like.
It’s a great question, and I’m going to provide some of the answers here. These are the questions I asked myself when I first started to really delve into the ingredients in my own products several years ago. So I figured this could definitely help someone else that was beginning their journey into choosing healthier, more natural personal, beauty and body care products.
Why petroleum doesn’t offer any nutritive value
Sure, petroleum can act as a barrier or protective agent. That’s because it is a physical barrier and a naturally dense and thick oil. But there are SO many other oils that are pressed from nuts and other plant based materials that offer protection AND some sort of nutrient value. Petroleum is basically a “dead” oil in this way.
Petroleum, mineral oil, propylene glycol and other glycols, and so many other petroleum by-products are simply dead materials. They don’t have the vitamins, nutrients, oleic and linoleic fatty acids (and other essential fatty acids), that so many other better options have that are pressed from various parts of plants, seeds and fruit.
Petroleum often contains contaminants and toxins
The manufacturing process for many of these petrochemicals actually often results in contamination with other chemicals and toxins. The real concern though is that since petroleum actually leaches moisture from skin cells, it latches on to them and can stay in your body for a very long time.
You don’t have this problem with natural, organic oils as they hydrate the skin cells and do not leech or attach to them and stay in the body forever. They are eliminated much as a natural food you put in your mouth is eliminated, through the body’s natural elimination processes.
Petro-products are hydrophobic
Hydrophobic means that a material actually leeches or repels moisture from whatever it attaches itself too. Many petroleum based product claim to seal in moisture. They make a seal alright, the problem is, they clog the pores in the process, AND they do not plump up or hydrate the skin cells, they actually dehydrate them.
So this is a two-fold problem of course. First off, you’ve got a material that does not absorb into the skin like some natural oils do, so it blocks the skin’s pores and can lend cause to acne and breakouts.
Second, you’ve got a material that sucks the skin cells of moisture instead of injecting them with moisture like natural oils such as coconut oil, jojoba oil, apricot kernel oil and sweet almond oil and shea butter do (and they also offer skin-healthy vitamins like vitamin A and E to name a few).
Since they mask the skin, they also prevent the skin from getting enough oxygen. Petroleum has the effect of trapping dirt and debris in pores, which is why any skin care specialist will tell you to avoid products with mineral oil, paraffin, petroleum jelly, propylene glycol, or any other petroleum based ingredient.