Petrolatum and Vegetable-Based Alternatives in Natural Cosmetics

Do petroleum products belong in natural cosmetics? Vegetable oilbased materials have been offered as natural alternatives to petrolatum, but the defi nition of the term natural clearly includes petroleum products such as petrolatum. This article describes the many advantages of petrolatum that enable it to be a highly effective ingredient for natural cosmetics.

For decades, consumers have been using cosmetics containing petroleum- based ingredients, either refi ned hydrocarbon products or materials that are derived from petrochemical feedstocks. With the recent increasing interest in natural ingredients and their use in personal care products (see sidebar), questions have surfaced about how petroleum hydrocarbons fi t within these products. Some suppliers have developed alternatives to mineral oil and petrolatum in order to provide personal care product manufacturers with cosmetic ingredients that have been obtained from vegetable or other renewable sources. These ingredients are frequently touted as being natural, which carries the connotation (intentional or not) that such ingredients are better, healthier, safer for the user, and/ or less polluting to the environment.

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