Monday, 15 March 2010

Petroleum Jelly - Friend or Foe?

Many of us carry a tin around with us, and if we have forgotten it, there’s usually a friend who will have one handy. It’s all about that occasional dab at the jelly, smothering our lips in the 'gooey'-wax texture that leaves are lips looking greasy, just the way we like them. It is this obscure obsession that seems to provide some sort of satisfaction, but it seems us users, don’t really know what or why?

We seem to have it drilled into our heads that petroleum jelly is a moisturiser, why else would we be happy to smother it on our delicate lips. Petroleum jelly does has its uses in other areas, for example it acts as a barrier for your skin in freezing temperatures and well,  it can be used in a multitude of situations where one may need lubricant, but as a whole it does not aid skins rejuvenation.

When I was young I used to think that ‘Vaseline’ and Petroleum jelly were different things. I once heard someone say that Vaseline was made of whale fat and it made me cringe and wipe my coated lips with my sleeve in disgust. But after realising that my tin of ‘Vaseline’ was actually the same stuff in a tub in the bathroom cabinet, I immediately layered a fresh coat to my lips in relief. This caused further confusion. Given that ‘petrol’ was in the name I thought that I must therefore be smothering petrol all over my mouth, and I should be a little more cautious around naked flames. Still, I wasn’t going to throw that tin away just yet. You see, it becomes a sort of addiction. When you see someone open that awkward tin and rub their finger tip in that circular motion that just seems to come natural, you check the status of your own lips, and if they could stand to be a little more slippery, you immediately began foraging through your far-too-big handbag to find it. Basically, seeing someone apply petroleum jelly to their lips is like watching someone yawn – you have to emulate it. 

As much as we enjoy the application of this goo, we never question why our lips remain dry after that thick coat of jelly has worn off, or has more likely been ingested. Surely with the amount of (what I have dubbed) ‘face-lube’ we apply to our lips a day, they should be so soft that applying lipstick is near on impossible, gliding off-course across our cheek. Further reasons for ditching the tin are seen in studies that suggest that petrolatum (an ingredient in petroleum jelly) is related to breast cancer. Now, I know these days, everything seems to give you cancer, but when you hear ‘petrol’ used to sell a beauty product, it certainly puts you off.

So here it is. We need to throw away that tin, or give it to a friend who has an alternative use for it, and replace that petroleum jelly with a moisturiser with vitamins A and E in it. Or in the short-term, slap some E45 on your lips before bed, and I guarantee your lips will actually feel soft without looking like you’ve just had a fry-up and forgotten to wipe your mouth.

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