Beauty, Skin

What are Petrochemicals anyway?


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You’ve used them before, I know I definitely have. I’m talking about petroleum products coming to us from fossil fuel. Petroleum derivitives are found in things like gasoline, styrofoam, brake fluid, antifreeze and used to de-ice planes. Do you want this  in your skincare? I don’t.  The prefix “petro-” is a shortened version of the word “petroleum”;  and  “petro-” is Ancient Greek for “rock” and “oleum” means “oil”. Don’t you love to learn?

Not all petrochemicals cause cancer directly but they have the potential to cause allergies and irritations plus respiratory issues not to mention inflammation which  can lead to dry skin, wrinkles, rashes, pimples, yes- the very problems we are trying to remedy! I’ve also read that petrochemicals have been linked to Alzheimers… I think I’ll pass.

There is quite a controversy regarding the use of petrochemicals in personal care products. Some people believe that tiny amounts of these ingredients in our products are nothing to worry about.  How do you feel about this? I want my products as natural as possible especially when I have a very strong family history of cancer. My goal is prevention by abstaining from potentially harmful chemicals.

A while back, I heard the rumor that a very high end, costly moisturizer was made up mostly of mineral oil. You will find mineral oil in foundations, lotions, cleansers, and  moisturizers. Here’s the deal: mineral oil provides a coating and traps bacteria plus it doesn’t allow oxygen to reach the skin. This can cause irritation and pimples, rashes and in extreme cases, skin lesions! Think about it this way- its like plastic wrap, not allowing oxygen to reach your skin, this  can cause abnormal cell development, resulting in premature aging, unhealthy sensitive skin that dries out quickly. {source}

Petroleum products can generate 1,4-dioxane which I talked about here. This is a substance that is known to cause cancer, it’s also a kidney toxicant, neurotoxicant, and a respiratory toxicant. The Environmental Working Group has found that 22% of all products contain unsafe levels of 1,4-dioxane. Another little fact to think about,  95% of chemicals used in fragrance are from petroleum!

Look for these on your labels, all petroleum:

Methanol and any word with ‘methyl’ –  methyl alcohol, methylparaben, methylcellulose /  Coal tar, commonly used in hair color and scalp treatment shampoos / Paraffin Wax / Mineral Oil /  Toluene, a toxic ingredient in solvents, paints, and other household products- used in nail polish/ Ethylhexylglycerin, a synthetic petrochemical preservative /  Cocamidopropyl Betaine,  derived from coconut using petrochemicals  {source}

PEG (polyethylene glycol)  has been  linked to dermatitis, kidney, lung and nervous damage. You will find this in many shampoos, conditioners,  foundations, moisturizers and lipsticks. You will also find it in brake fluid, laundry detergent and paint. {source} Its very harmful if swallowed, also harmful seeping into your skin! Deodorants contain a chemical called dioxane which has been linked to cancer. And parabens, which by now you know are toxic, are actually a form of preservatives derived from petroleum!  {source} Its hard to get away from petroleum products in personal care items, especially when the name is changed and the average consumer doesn’t know the many dertivitives.


Who came up with the bright idea to use petroleum in makeup anyway? You will want to check all labels and be a wise consumer.  When I went back and re-read labels on various items in my bathroom cabinets, I found several of these ingredients listed!


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