Free shipping on all orders over $39

Aquaphor and petroleum safety

Reviewed by Marta March 12, 2008 3 Comments
My last post on lip balm brought to mind the morning I woke up with Pamela Anderson's lips. I also had a large hive on my left cheek and my left eye was swollen shut. The next day my lips went black and the skin fell off - as if they had been blow-torched.

Feeling remarkably sorry for myself (and not a little self-conscious), I want to see Hari at my local pharmacy (Gideon's on Broadway; once you've tried it you'll never go to Duane Read again) and, unruffled as always, he handed me a tube of Aquaphor. I was back to normal (lips like Zoe Wannamaker's) within 24 hours.

Acquaphor worked so well that I've always been too scared to see what was in it. Truth In Aging doesn't let sleeping dogs lie, however, and courage was rewarded by a pleasant surprise. Acquaphor contains mineral oil, cerasin (a mineral alternative to beeswax for those with sensitive skin), lanolin, pathenol (provitamin B5) and chamomile (an anti-inflammatory).

Then I looked again. Damn. That's the inactive ingredients list. The active ingredient is petrolatum (41%). I must confess to being perplexed as to whether petrolatum is really something to avoid. In America, it seems to be in everything, including my beloved Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream. In Europe, it used to be in everything and then in 2003 it became a blacklisted ingredient. As far as I can work out, certain impurities may be in the petrolatum and they can cause allergies and even be a carcinogen. Cosmetics should use highly refined petroleum that has been cleaned of these impurities. The EU requires product makers to provide a certificate saying the petroleum used is carcinogen-free.

This should mean that a petrolatum-based product bought in Europe is safe. In the US, where there isn't such a restriction, we frankly don't know. So, it is probably best to avoid it if possible. But if you find something that works and that you don't get a reaction to, then there is probably no need panic and go petroleum-free.

For those of you who like loose ends to be tied, the cause of my Pammie Anderson lips was an allergic reaction to a toothpaste by Tom's of Maine.
  • July 9, 2016

    by Nosh

    Since aquaphor is European make it should be regulated and fine to use . Correct?

  • January 14, 2013

    by dianna horne

    i too have decided that i love mineral oil and petroleum jelly and of course aquaphor! after using only natural oils like coconut, olive, castor oil and pretty much every one i could get my hands on over the years, my skin became more and more sensitive. all these oils started giving me cystic acne or worse made my skin dry and itchy :( i finally tried vaseline and was shocked that i didn't die! then i tried aquaphor and was amazed! right now i am using plain unscented drinkable (lol) mineral oil for my skin and hair and lo and behold it loves it!!! no clogged pores or itchy red skin and it is sooo cheap!!! once you start getting sensitive to everything and find something that works and is begign stick to it!!! i had too many bad experiences with natural oils gone rancid.

  • March 13, 2008

    by Amy Fletcher

    <p>I, too, have recently decided that petroleum is my friend. I used the magic Aquaphor religiously, mixed with anti-bacterial ointment (as recommended by my doctor), when bandaging a large second-degree burn 9 months ago... now there is no sign that there was ever a burn.</p>

You are leaving a comment on below...

My review

Reviewing >

-or- Cancel my review
* Required Fields
truth in aging's five best

Truth In Aging's Five Best

The very best to choose from for your skin concerns.

Read More

truth in aging videos

Truth In Aging Videos

Helpful how-tos and reviews from Marta and friends.

Watch Now

meet our contributors

Meet Our Contributors

The TIA community consists of our trusted reviewers.

Meet Them

be inspired

Be Inspired

Inspiring thoughts and women who are aging gracefully.

Read More

  Loading...