I’ve always known that tree huggers eschewed any petroleum jelly products, but I didn’t know why. Also called petrolatum, this jelly-like substance is used in many lip balms, body oils, etc. It was discovered as a by-product the equipment on America’s first oil rigs. Chemist Robert Chesebrough worked with the waxy film and discovered that once distilled, it had many beneficial properties. According to the Organic Consumers Association, it’s one of the Ten Synthetic Cosmetic Ingredients to Avoid (by the way, that list also includes sodium lauryl sulfate – commonly used in shampoo). So, now I’m trying to be more aware of what I use, I figure I better know why the Natural set doesn’t like petroleum jelly.
According to the research I’ve done (admittedly, not much), the petrolatum itself is not the problem. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are contaminants used in the processing of petroleum jelly. If PAHs are used, THAT’S what is showing links to breast cancer.(article) The European Union is has banned the use of petrolatum in cosmetics/food if its purity is in question. So, if you can find out if the petrolatum in your favorite body oil has been properly purified and no PAHs were used, you’re golden. Good luck with that. I’m not sure what I’m going to do yet.