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PETROLATUM

What is it?

“Petroleum jelly, petrolatum, white petrolatum, soft paraffin/paraffin wax or multi-hydrocarbon, CAS number 8009-03-8, is a semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbons (with carbon numbers mainly higher than 25),” Wikipedia

What are the effects?

This substance belongs to the groups:

Petrolatum is on the Red List* from Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a project of Breast Cancer Prevention Partners (previously the Breast Cancer Fund). They are concerned because petrolatum might be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), a substance classified as a probable carcinogen and endocrine disruptor.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) identifies that petrolatum “may cause cancer, causes damage to organs through prolonged or repeated exposure and is suspected of damaging fertility or the unborn child.”

Petrolatum is prohibited to use in cosmetics in the EU, unless “the full refining history is known and it can be shown that the substance from which it is produced is not a carcinogen”

* “The Red List includes chemicals found in personal care products that pose serious, chronic health concerns including cancer, hormone disruption, and reproductive and developmental harm. The list also flags chemicals that are banned or have use restrictions by the U.S. or other world governments, ingredients that adversely impact worker health, and ingredients that are widely used in products marketed to women of color.” – Campaign for Safe Cosmetics

How is it used?

Petrolatum, or petroleum jelly, is mainly used as an emollient (softens and smooths the skin), moisturizer, and ultraviolet (UV) absorber in cosmetic products. The most famous product of the substance is vaselin. The petroleum based substance can be found in skin creams, facial cleansers, hair products, makeups, diaper creams, deodorants, sunscreens, and many other products.

We use the European Commissions definition of Cosmetics:
“Cosmetics range from everyday hygiene products such as soap, shampoo, deodorant, and toothpaste to luxury beauty items including perfumes and makeup”.

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