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Slippery way: Why do we need Vaseline cosmetics?

And should we be afraid of refined products?


Unilever, a manufacturer of food and household chemicals, has brought its another brand to Russia — Vaseline, a cosmetics brand based on vaseline. I found out whether cosmetic Vaseline can be better than pharmacy one and who needs cosmetics from refining products today.


Who invented Vaseline


In 1859, a twenty-two-year-old chemist from New York, Robert Augustus Chesbro went to Pennsylvania to investigate an oil well. Refining was a promising industry, and he hoped to profit from it. At the field Chesbro noticed one of the  oil production byproducts, a thick mass stuck to the drilling rigs. Workers told the young American how they smear it on burns and abrasions, so they heal faster. Chesbro became interested and took the samples with him to New York, where he studied the substance, subjected it to cleaning and modifications.

A few years later, he patented the formula and began selling cosmetics made of Vaseline: moisturizers, anti-blisters, burns and abrasions, gel for eyebrows and hair. At first, the brand was called Petroleum Jelly, but if believe the story, this name had a bad effect on sales and did not catch on. Then Chesbro combined the German word wasser (water) with the Greek elaion (oil) and came up with Vaseline. The product was a success: on every second bathroom shelf in the United States, a tin can of the product appeared.


How does Vaseline differ one from another


Vaseline is a mixture of mineral oil and solid paraffins. It is obtained from the remains of oil distillation, of course, with subsequent purification. This component, like the devil, has hundred names, and this can confuse buyers. Petroleum jelly, 100% white petrolatum, soft paraffin, multi-hydrocarbon are all names of the same ingredient, which is designated under the same CAS number (registry of the American Chemical reference service) 8009-03-8. Unilever, the company that produces the Vaseline brand, claims that only they use the highest quality raw materials and only their processes meet the highest standards of cleaning and filtration. But it is, of course, impossible to verify these statements and compare them with other companies.


In the classic Vaseline brand can there is only one component, 100% White Petrolatum. Inside is a transparent viscous colorless mass without taste and smell, lumps and inclusions, that can be easily drawn into threads. Depending on the degree of purification, Vaseline can be colorless or with a light yellow tint.


Does Vaseline of one brand differ from another? The consistency, smoothness, or even flavor of a product of the Vaseline brand may differ slightly from other brands, but it unlikely affects the occlusive properties, the ability of the component to create a film on the skin and retain moisture, or the level of safety. The latter, at least in the US, will be closely monitored by the FDA. Perhaps it will differ in the degree of cleaning (Vaseline, for example, conducts a triple, which is incredibly proud of), but it is impossible to check this. Supplements may also vary.


For example, the composition of cosmetic vaseline brand "Nevskaya cosmetics" includes mineral oil, several structure-forming agents and perfumes, and in the vaseline brand "100 beauty recipes" liquid paraffin is used, which is thickened with ceresin and paraffin. The product of the Tula pharmaceutical factory contains only one component — vaseline, which includes mineral oil. Essentially the same white petrolatum as in the original Vaseline can.


Should you give preference to any particular Vaseline? The American brand products will really be more pleasant than the classic pharmacy as to them components have been added to soften the texture, a variety of perfumes and additional ingredients like aloe extract or cocoa butter. But remember that Vaseline can be not only in lotions and creams of the American brand, but also in a huge variety of other brands.


Who needs Vaseline Cosmetics


For many years, people were scared to use Vaseline as an ingredient: it was believed that it clogs the pores, does not allow the skin to breathe and can even provoke the development of cancer as it allegedly contains carcinogenic PAH (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons). Today it is known that this is not true: before putting into a cosmetic or pharmaceutical product, mineral oil goes through several stages of purification, during which harmful impurities are excluded from the composition.


The American Academy of dermatology recommends using creams and ointments with mineral oil to soothe and moisturize dry skin, and the American eczema Association recommends Vaseline products for patients with eczema. Firstly, the main component in these products creates a film on the skin and does not allow moisture to evaporate from it, which is a priority for people with special skin conditions. Secondly, the brand produces cosmetic products in cans of large volume and at a relatively low price. The skin of patients with eczema, psoriasis, and atopic dermatitis is often very dry, which means that it needs to be moisturized every day. In this case, products are used quickly and cost matters.


Although against the miracles that vitamin C and low-molecular hyaluronic acid can do, Vaseline seems a modest ingredient, do not write it off. Perhaps in a couple of years we will see how it becomes fashionable thanks to its ability to effectively and cheaply prevent transepidermal moisture loss or, more simply, dehydration of the skin.

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