(NaturalNews) Imagine a beautiful model walking into an automotive store and buying a quart of motor oil, then proceeding to pour it on her hair and smooth it into her face and arms. That picture might seem silly, but how many beauty products contain the same basic ingredient used in cars? Plenty. In fact, many people might be surprised to learn that crude oil is the basis of everything from plastics to carpeting.
Many people, however, might not like the idea that the same product used to make a plastic bag or run a car is also used in products like shampoo, soap, hairspray, and numerous cosmetics, from lip balm to mascara. Petroleum in beauty products goes by many names (mineral oil, paraffin wax, and petrolatum, just to name a few), and its pervasiveness is more widespread than one might think. There are many reasons to avoid petroleum in beauty products. Here are a few.
For beauty: According to Newsweek, American women spend over $400,000 in their lifetime on beauty maintenance. This figure leaves little doubt that women (particularly those in America) are obsessed with looking beautiful. So why should these women avoid petroleum-based products?
According to Kit Anderson, mineral oil (a petroleum product found in many beauty products) smothers the skin (the body's largest organ), making it impossible for it to breathe. In fact, because of the way mineral oil works, Anderson claims that mineral oil is a poor choice for beauty products for these reasons:
It disrupts the way the body naturally detoxifies
It slows the rate at which cells are renewed, thereby damaging collagen, connective tissue, and elastin - all of which contribute to the way skin looks and feels
It results in skin that ages prematurely
She also mentions that many beauty products are made with the purpose of moisturizing the skin, but petroleum products made as moisturizers ironically work against the skin by dehydrating it.
For health: It's best to avoid petroleum-based beauty products for health reasons as well. For example, some products containing petroleum have been linked to an increased risk of cancer. In fact, National Geographic's Green Guide states that "petroleum distillates" are possible carcinogens, and so it's best to steer clear of products containing them.
For the environment: From plastic exfoliating microbeads that end up contributing to the ever-growing plastic vortex in the Pacific Ocean to tales of creatures being found with indigestible plastic in their stomachs, what more reason does a person need to avoid petroleum products? Petroleum, in all its forms, is damaging to air and water and is best avoided.
So what's a girl (or guy) to do? Fortunately, in this day and age, there are many health and beauty products that intentionally avoid using petroleum-based ingredients. A little research and time spent reading labels will help people find out what products have petroleum ingredients so they can avoid them. A little more time spent researching will reveal numerous companies, who have pledged to make their products petroleum free.
Cindy Jones-Shoeman is the author of Last Sunset and a Feature Writer for Academic Writing at Suite101. Some of Cindy's interests include environmental issues, vegetarian and sustainable lifestyles, music, and reading.