Last year Zizi Donohoe introduced me to a hydrating, matte skin cream she adored. She said that the formulation felt incredible on her skin, and I had to take a look at it. But when I looked at the ingredients list, I had one major concern: it was formulated with petroleum, a substance that I avoid in all of my formulations. At Agent Nateur, ingredient sourcing is of utmost importance to me and the brand, aligning with our mission, vision, and our responsibility to the planet. So, when I started formulating for holi (creme), our super-luxurious moisturizing product filter face creme, and holi (lift), our ageless lifting and firming serum, I knew I needed to find a replacement that delivered all the benefits of petroleum, but without any of the petroleum whatsoever.
Today, we’re going to dive into the reasons why petroleum (also known as mineral oil) is not a product you want to saturate your skin with and why you might want to look for healthier alternatives.
So, is the distrust for petroleum warranted? Here’s the problem. It’s important to understand that it is used A LOT in formulation because it’s cheap. It also can feel ‘instantly effective’ at hydrating skin. Petroleum-based products make you think they are ‘locking moisture in’ but really, they create a barrier that actually locks moisture out.
Petroleum and mineral oil act as occlusive agents, creating a barrier that blocks pores and stops the skin's natural respiration process. This barrier might feel hydrating in the short term but it can lead to clogged pores, blackheads, and other skin issues too, and actually, used over time, they can impact the way that our barrier functions. This means that the long-term effects of petroleum can result in your skin getting drier and drier and you need more and more of the product. This can take us into a cycle of becoming reliant on outside creams for hydration - and that’s something we want to avoid.
As well as reducing hydration over time, petroleum, paraffin and equally flammable ingredients can thin the skin too. A 2010 study has shown that over four weeks, paraffin contributed to a reduction in the thickness of healthy skin. When this happens, the the skin gets even more susceptible to other chemicals getting inside the body.
The list goes on. Some other compelling reasons to avoid petroleum and paraffin include:
The associated carcinogenic risks: paraffin and petroleum products often contain aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), which are known to be carcinogenic and increase the risk of cancer. Of particular concern is the presence of 1,4-dioxane, a possible human carcinogen and known animal carcinogen found as an impurity in 22% of petroleum-based cosmetics.
Triggering acne breakouts: According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), individuals prone to acne should steer clear of petroleum jelly on the face, as it can contribute to breakouts, including perioral dermatitis, a rash that appears around the mouth.
Increasing the rate of tumor formation: Research published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology demonstrated that mineral oil-based moisturizers, when topically applied, increased the rate of tumor formation in high-risk mice.
Driving fungal growth: The occlusive nature of petroleum and mineral oil can create a warm, moist environment that promotes the growth of yeast and fungus, potentially leading to conditions like candida. A 2000 study found that extremely low birth weight infants treated with petroleum jelly were more likely to develop systemic candidiasis.
Aggravating sunburn: Applying petroleum or mineral oil-based products on sunburn can worsen the condition by trapping heat within the skin, potentially causing permanent scarring. We were shocked when we learned about this.
- Producing xenoestrogenic effects within the body: Petroleum-based products, even the refined versions, are classified as xenoestrogens. Studies have demonstrated their ability to produce estrogenic effects, indicating their potential to disrupt hormone receptors.
So, considering this list of effects we’d all rather avoid, I knew that the product Zizi told me about was a great inspiration, but the petroleum was a no-go. In fact, much as Zizi liked her product, it had started to make her skin break out, so I started researching how I could replace the petroleum and deliver the same benefits of hydration as petroleum, but without any of the side effects. That’s when I found organic olus oil as my petroleum alternative.
Introducing: Olus Oil
Olus oil is an oil derived from plants or vegetables. It has emerged as a highly regarded ingredient in the skincare industry because it is 100% natural, additive-free, colorless and odorless too. At Agent, we use organic olus oil. It is non-irritating, hypoallergenic, and maintains the skin's natural protective layers, making it an excellent solution for keeping the skin healthy and unclogged. I really like olus oil because it makes the perfect cream base that protects, softens and smooths skin as well as forming a protective barrier to prevent the loss of hydration and moisture from within. It does what paraffin does but without acting as an occlusive agent. It still lets things IN through the barrier.
What else? It’s also packed full of the antioxidant vitamin E which gives it the ability to easily glide on the skin while leaving a smooth and velvety feel. Organic olus oil is a deeply moisturizing, nourishing part of the holi (crème) filter face cream that also protects cells from damage. No wonder this product has received such incredible feedback.
Here are some other reasons that I love to formulate with organic olus oil:
- It’s fatty acid heavy: It’s comparable to petroleum in terms of occlusivity, spreadability, and oxidation stability but olus oil has a similar composition to skin. It is composed of fatty acids that resemble those found on the skin's outermost layer, providing the ultimate replenishment and nourishment.
- It’s rich in essential vitamins: Olus oil contains essential vitamins such as A, D, E, and K, which offer additional benefits for the skin.
- It’s suitable for all skin types: Unlike petroleum, olus oil is especially beneficial for dry skin and is widely used in cosmetic products due to its ability to moisturize and maintain the skin's natural barrier.
- It promotes cell growth: High vitamin E content in olus oil protects skin cells from damage and stimulates their production, promoting healthier skin.
- It has antioxidant and antibacterial properties: It also helps protect the skin against UV-induced aging and free radicals, as well as being antimicrobial.
So, now we understand why we want to avoid petroleum, and why olus oil delivers all the benefits with none of the side effects, I hope you can understand why I opted for organic olus oil in some of our best-selling products: holi (creme), body (balm), and holi lift.
I’m excited for you to add a petroleum-free product into your shelfie line up and I can’t wait for you to experience the smooth, nourishing effect of organic olus oil that helps to replenish and hydrate your skin, face and body, leaving it soft and supple.
***THESE STATEMENTS HAVE NOT BEEN APPROVED OR REGULATED BY THE FDA. WE ARE NOT DOCTORS, THEREFORE ALWAYS CONSULT WITH YOUR DOCTOR FIRST***