Petroleum in Cosmetics

Have you ever been curious about what might be hiding in your cosmetics? You might be surprised by some of the findings, I know I was!

From lipsticks to foundations, it's important to know what you're putting on your skin, especially if you're applying it every day. Let's take a closer look at one particular ingredient that you may have heard of, but not fully understood: petroleum.

What is petroleum?

Petroleum, a byproduct of fossil fuels, is derived from the remains of ancient plants and animals. Through a process called fractional distillation, it is broken down into various components.

Today, almost all of us come into contact with a by-product of petroleum on a regular basis, such as petrol fuel, cleaning detergents, plastics, garden fertiliser, and even fabrics such as polyester and nylon!

But, did you know it's a go-to base for many beauty products that can pose several health risks to us? Uh oh!

Petroleum found in cosmetics

It's true, petroleum is often the go-to base used in cosmetics, it can pose several health risks such as clogging pores, causing skin irritation and potentially being carcinogenic.

What are the potential health risks of petroleum in cosmetics?

Mineral oil and petroleum are the basic ingredients in many cosmetic products today. Cosmetics such as foundations, cleansers, and moisturizers often contain mineral oil. By locking moisture against the skin, mineral oil sits on the skin’s surface and can potentially block pores. This may cause the appearance of pimples because the skin cannot properly ‘breathe’.

Fragrances in many cosmetic products are composed of aromatic hydrocarbons. Perfumed products can contain many hundreds of chemicals to produce a distinct scent. A significant number of these aromas are derived from petroleum.

Isopropyl alcohol is an antiseptic which kills bacteria on the skin. You can find it on the ingredient list of cleansers, toners and other cosmetic products. This dries the skin and may cause miniature cracks in the skin that allow bacteria to enter, causing irritations and/or pimples.

Do these petroleum-derived products affect your health?

Your skin covers your body and acts as a physical barrier to many of the pollutants in the atmosphere. When you use products on your skin such as cosmetics, lotions, and shampoos, the ingredients in these products come into direct contact with your body’s largest organ; your skin.


You may ask yourself, where do the ingredients in the products go?

Research at the Herb Research Foundation found that the skin absorbs up to 60% of the chemicals in products that it comes into contact with directly into the bloodstream. Presently, the long-term effects of many of the chemical additives in cosmetics are not known.

However the effects of chemicals and other synthetic ingredients in cosmetics may lead to mild allergic reactions causing rashes and minor skin irritation to more significant problems such as lesions on the skin. Carcinogens, another chemical additive have been linked to cancer in humans.

What are your alternatives for cosmetics?

Luckily, there are alternatives to cosmetics filled with synthetically produced ingredients. Increasingly, cosmetic manufacturers are answering the public’s demand for alternatives to chemically loaded beauty and grooming supplies. Alit is one such company that is leading the way in producing high-quality, inorganically manufactured cosmetics! As a consumer, you have the choice to decrease the number of preservatives and chemical additives your skin comes into contact with and therefore, that may enter your body.