For some years, my beauty moisturizer has been petroleum jelly. A woman on Facebook reacted in horror when she read my confession. Petroleum jelly clogged pores and had other negatives, she said.
In reply, I sent her an article about the many dermatologists who approved of the product, reminding us that petroleum jelly is a basic ingredient in many beauty and skincare cosmetics. What I can’t recall is if she thanked me for the information.
Dermatologists do warn against slathering an unrefined version of the goo around the lips. Inhaling fats can cause lipid pneumonia. Folks with oily skin should avoid petroleum jelly as well.
These cautions aside, the product is cheap and effective skincare. Call it a form of skinimalism, the name for the beauty industry’s current fad.
Under the code of skinimalism, beauticians who once advocated for a plethora of products—day creams, night creams, creams for under the eyes, and those for the neck and decolletage- now encourage a woman to spend less time before her mirror. Today’s beauty regime is simple: cleanse, protect, and moisturize. There is one caveat, they warn. Never buy a cream that combines sun protection and a moisturizer. The active ingredients of one product may dilute or work against the other. Layer the emollients instead. (“Looking Glass,” by Garrett Muncie, Town&Couontry, April 2021, pg. 52.)
For the best protection against UVA/UVB damage, apply sunscreen first. The SPF ingredients need to lock onto the skin.
Where cosmetics are concerned, I’ve followed the recommended procedures for years, which makes me a skinimalist. Of late, however, I admit to one change. I’ve abandoned my old friend, petroleum jelly in favor of something pricier. I can’t say why I did, exactly. Maybe after years of frugality, I hungered for an indulgence. Or, perhaps, like my mother, “I needed to renew myself.”
The cream I’ve chosen claims to have skin firming benefits, but at nearly 85, I don’t look for miracles. I enjoy that it isn’t sticky like petroleum jelly, but spreads on smoothly, leaving my skin feeling as if it’s had a drink of water. Unfortunately, the price tag is as rich as the cream–a luxury that simultaneously makes me feel guilty and grateful.
If I am honest, after several months of usage, I don’t see any difference in my complexion. Or, if I do, it’s slight enough to be a conjuring of my imagination.
In moments when I’m feeling guiltiest, I tell my frugal self that people need to care for their “outerwear.” We do as much for our overcoats. Even so, I know petroleum jelly has served me well over the years.
I also know that healthy skin and a healthy body don’t come in jars. They are the rewards of exercise and good nutrition. That is all ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. (“Ode to a Grecian Urn” by John Keats.)