Did you know that the most common ingredient in emollients and creams for dry skin can itself cause all kinds of problems?
Paraffin (also listed as liquid paraffin, soft white paraffin, mineral oil or or petroleum jelly) is everywhere. It’s in pretty much every emollient recommended or prescribed for dry skin, eczema or psoriasis, and it’s in most high street hand creams and moisturisers too.
Why Use It In Emollients?
Paraffin provides a thin, oily, protective layer on the skin, so that when the skin’s own barrier is weak, broken or faulty, it can be protected against allergens and irritants, while locking moisture into the skin where it's needed. Using paraffin as an artificial barrier gives skin the time to heal, almost as if you were putting on a pair of gloves or a plaster.
Why Use Paraffin Rather Than Natural Oils?
Quick answer? It’s very cheap.
Paraffin might be a cheap and effective ingredient but from its roots in the polluting petrochemical industry to its terrifying flammability, its use carries all kinds of risks...risks we prefer not to take.
Why Wouldn’t You Use Paraffin?
- It’s a by-product of the petrochemical industry, meaning that its production is neither sustainable nor environmentally-friendly.
- It needs to be intensively refined with bleach and other harsh chemicals - which are not exactly great for the environment either.
- It can end up contaminated with those chemicals from refining process.
- By itself, paraffin is greasy, unpleasant smelling and not very nice to use: manufacturers add preservatives, fragrances, and fragrance-masking chemicals to paraffin to make it useable, and these can also cause irritation to sensitive skin.
- Never mind any additives, paraffin can cause irritation and inflammation all by itself...
- It forms an occlusive (waterproof) barrier over the skin, which means it can clog pores and cause breakouts in oily skin or acne-prone skin.
- That occlusive barrier doesn’t allow skin to breathe, so the skin can’t shed waste products as it would naturally do.
- It locks in dirt as well as moisture, which increases the risk of bacterial and fungal infection.
- It’s highly inflammable and has been linked to deaths by fire, in cases where it has soaked into clothes after being used as an emollient
- There are concerns that using an occlusive barrier over a long period of time reduces the skin’s ability to function normally and to regenerate itself
- It’s not recommended if you’re prone to heat rash. It’s not recommended on broken skin.
- When overused, it may cause folliculitis.
So What Can We Use Instead?
Here are our top three reasons to ditch the petrochemicals and go natural!
- Skin Salvation is made with plant oils and natural beeswax which require minimal processing, making it sustainable and eco-friendly! Win for you, win for the planet.
- Skin Salvation forms a semi-occlusive rather than totally occlusive barrier, so skin can begin to function normally
- Skin Salvation doesn’t just provide an effective barrier against moisture-loss, allergens and irritants, but actively feeds the skin with the vitamins, essential fatty acids and other nutrients it needs to regenerate and repair itself. That’s something that paraffin can never do: at best, it can only ever be a neutral barrier.
Balmonds Skin Salvation
with hemp and beeswax
Balmonds Daily Moisturising Cream
with shea butter and calendula
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.