What is in Your Commercial Lotion?

Since Vaseline is the most common commercially produced lotion on the market we will break it down and show you what’s in it and why it really should not go on your skin.

We’ll review the directions, warnings, ingredients, and storage. After this review please reconsider applying any of these chemicals to your skin.

Try Mother Gaia’s lotion, simply made of beeswax, organic coconut and sunflower oils, filtered zero water, and 0.02% Borax (sodium tetraborate) as the emulsifier.

ACTIVE INGREDIENTS: White Petrolatum USP (100%)……….…Skin Protectant

Other Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Petrolatum, Stearic Acid, Glycol Stearate, Dimethicone, Isopropyl Isostearate, Dihydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride, Hydroxyethyl Urea, Tapioca Starch, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Magnesium Aluminium Silicate, Stearamide AMP, Carbomer, Isopropyl Myristate, Cedrol, Triethanolamine, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben


Carbomer: class of chemicals made from acrylic acid. They are thickening agents that help control the viscosity and flow of cosmetic products. They are also solvents, helping formulas to stay well mixed. You’ll find them in styling gels, facial moisturizers, sunscreen, shampoo, anti-aging treatments, cleansers, and scrubs. Though generally considered safe, they can sometimes contain “neutralizing agents” TEA or EDTA. It is a known allergen that causes eye irritation. These can carry contaminants that can be potentially carcinogenic.

Cedrol: is a sesquiterpene alcohol found in the essential oil of conifers (cedar oil), especially in the genera Cupressus (cypress) and Juniperus (juniper). It has also been identified in Origanum onites, a plant related to oregano. Cedrol has toxic and possibly carcinogenic properties when extracted and concentrated.

Cetearyl Alcohol: fatty alcohol that’s either produced from the end products of the petroleum industry or derived from plants (palm oil-palmityl alcohol). It comes in the form of a white, waxy solid. It’s no longer derived from sperm whale oil (where it was originally discovered) seeing how whales are now an endangered species.

  • Cetearyl alcohol is also a surfactant that boosts a products foaming capacity. This property is important in bath soaps, hand soaps, shampoos, conditioners and many other personal care products.
  • Cetearyl alcohol is also a main ingredient in cosmetics such as foundations, concealers, liquid lipsticks and mascaras to stabilize a solution and to prevent the separation of emulsions.
  • Small amounts of alcohol applied to skin cells in lab settings (about 3% alcohol, but keep in mind skin-care products contain amounts ranging from 5% to 60% or more) over the course of two days increased cell death by 26%. It also destroyed the substances in cells that reduce inflammation and defend against free radicals.
  • Exposure to alcohol causes skin cells to literally self-destruct and the longer the exposure to alcohol continues, the worse it gets for your skin cells. The same study found that only two days of exposure was dramatically more harmful than one day of exposure, and that was using an alcohol concentration of less than 10%, which is much lower than what’s in many alcohol-based skin-care products.
  • This research clearly demonstrates the connection between free-radical damage to skin cells and alcohol exposure. Interestingly, this is exceptionally similar to the free-radical damage that results from excessive consumption of alcohol in the short and long term.

Dimethicone: it’s a silicon oil, man-made in the laboratory and used in personal care products as an anti-foaming agent, skin protectant, and skin and hair conditioner. Manufacturers like it because it makes products easily spreadable, so you get that feeling of the lotion or cream gliding over your skin. Dimethicone also helps form a protective barrier on the skin, and can fill in the fine lines and wrinkles on the face, which is why it’s often used in makeup primers.

Why Dimethicone is Bad for Your Skin? That artificial coating on the outside of skin causes several issues:

  • It traps everything under it—including bacteria, sebum, and impurities—which could lead to increased breakouts and blackheads
  • The coating action actually prevents the skin from performing its normal activities—like sweating, temperature regulating, sloughing off dead skin cells, etc.
  • Prolonged exposure to dimethicone can actually increase skin irritation, due to the coating property and because dimethicone is listed as a possible skin and eye irritant
  • Those with sensitive or reactive skin are at risk of an allergic reaction to dimethicone
  • On top of all this, dimethicone is a non-biodegradable chemical—bad for the environment
  • You’re creating a dependency on the coating product, disrupting the skin’s own hydrating processes, which in the end increases dryness, making fine lines and wrinkles more noticeable
  • The coating properties may increase breakouts, particularly if you’re susceptible to acne, which will lead to scars and older-looking skin
  • You’re doing nothing to boost the health and vitality of the skin, thus letting aging take its toll

Dihydroxypropyltrimonium Chloride: This raw material is a captive molecule of Unilever, trademarked as “Glycerol Quat™”. Glycerol Quat is basically a moisturizing / hydrating agent. Developed by DOW chemical.

Disodium EDTA: primarily used as a preservative and stabilizer, this ingredient is essentially used to prevent products from deteriorating and from smelling rancid.  This can usually be found in most skin care products.

Glycerine: (also known as glycerol) has enjoyed a long career as a key moisturizing ingredient, and while it can be obtained from both vegetable or animal fats and oils, it is most commonly derived from biodiesel waste courtesy of the saponification of oil and fat. The non-toxic and eco-friendly substance certainly seals moisture into skin, but it does so while also triggering subdermal skin layers to dry out, creating a chronically chapped sensation.

Glyceryl Stearate: Is chemically used to reduce the greasiness of an oil and to stabilize the product.

Glycol Stearate:  produced by chemically reacting stearic acid and ethylene glycol; Like many other long chain oil derived ingredients glycol stearate is used as a skin conditioning agent (emollient), but according to the cosmetic database it is also used as a surfactant, opacifying agent and an emulsifier, find most use in shampoos, body washes and moisturizers (US Department of Health and Human Services).

Hydroxyethyl Urea: this ingredient is derived from the urine and other bodily fluids of animals.  Used as a humectant and skin conditioning.

Isopropyl Isostearate: the ester of isopropyl alcohol and isostearic acid, is used as a skin conditioning agent-emollient in cosmetic products.

Isopropyl Myristate: a polar emollient and is used in cosmetic and topical medicinal preparations where good absorption into the skin is desired. Isopropyl myristate is being studied as a skin enhancer. It is also used as a pesticide against head lice which works by dissolving the wax that covers the exoskeleton of head lice, killing them by dehydration.

Magnesium Aluminium Silicate: is a naturally occurring mineral derived from refined and purified clay that is used primarily as a thickener.  Although the molecules are too large to be absorbed into skin, there is always concern about the use of aluminum.

Methylparaben: is a chemical preservative used as a fungicide in skin care products that is readily absorbed through the skin. There is controversy over the safety of this ingredient.

Petrolatum: another term for petroleum jelly. Petrolatum is mineral oil jelly (i.e. petroleum jelly). It is used as a barrier to lock moisture in the skin in a variety of moisturizers and also in hair care products to make your hair shine.

  • A petroleum product, petrolatum can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Studies suggest that exposure to PAHs — including skin contact over extended periods of time — is associated with cancer. On this basis, the European Union classifies petrolatum a carcinogen ii and restricts its use in cosmetics. PAHs in petrolatum can also cause skin irritation and allergies.
  • In the European Union, petrolatum can only be used in cosmetics “if the full refining history is known and it can be shown that the substance from which it is produced is not a carcinogen.” There is no parallel restriction in Canada. Petrolatum has been flagged for future assessment under the government’s Chemicals Management Plan.
  • Mineral oil and petroleum distillates are related petroleum by-products used in cosmetics. Like petrolatum, these ingredients may be contaminated with PAHs.

Phenoxyethanol: is a glycol ether that has a commercial, laboratory-produced synthetic counterpart. In its pure chemical form, it is a colorless liquid with a pleasant odor, commonly used in perfumes and cosmetics. Other uses for phenoxyethanol are insect repellents, antiseptics, solvents, anesthetics, soaps, cellulose acetate solvents, dyes, stamp pads, ballpoints, inks, and preservatives used for human specimen dissection.

  • Phenoxyethanol has antimicrobial, antibacterial, and germicidal properties, and is used for preserving pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and lubricants. While it may have those benefits, it also has toxicologic properties when inhaled, ingested, or contacted on the skin in large, or concentrated amounts.
  • Severe eye and skin irritation and damage, including eczema, hives.
  • Lung irritation, hypotension, ventricular dysrhythmias.
  • Brain cell damage, central nervous system (CNS) depression which includes decreased breathing rate, decreased heart rate, loss of consciousness leading to coma or death due to inhibition of the brain’s activity.
  • Repeated, long-term exposure causes organ damage, including peritonitis, serositis, and renal injury.
  • Nipple cream used by lactating mothers can cause severe CNS problems and other digestive disorders in infants.
  • Exposure to small amounts of phenoxyethanol may cause dermal, ocular, and lung irritation.
  • Excessive and long-term exposure to phenoxyethanol can cause severe damage to internal organs.
  • Small amounts of the chemical compound can be largely found in cosmetics and should be avoided according to the European Commission on Cosmetic Ingredients (CosIng).
  • Phenoxyethanol is toxic to the kidneys, liver, and nervous system.

Propylparaben: used as an anti-fungal preservative, it occurs as a natural substance found in many plants, although it is manufactured synthetically for use in cosmetics.  Use of parabens is quite controversial.

Stearic Acid: is a saturated long-chain fatty acid with an 18-carbon backbone. Stearic acid is found in various animal and plant fats, and is a major component of cocoa butter and shea butter. Stearic acid, also called octadecanoic acid, is one of the useful types of saturated fatty acids that comes from many animal and vegetable fats and oils.

  • It is a waxy solid, and its chemical formula is CH3(CH2)16COOH. Its name comes from the Greek word stear, which means tallow. Its IUPAC name is octadecanoic acid. — Wikipedia.
  • Stearic acid is a white, waxy natural acid that can be found in animal and vegetable fats. It is used as an emulsifier and emollient.
  • Stearic acid can cause skin irritations with symptoms of severe itching, redness, and swelling, and rash-like symptoms similar to tiny red spots.
  • Stearic acid can also make the skin sensitive to substances and direct exposure to the sun.
  • Stearic acid cause hive-like spots in the skin which often lead to blisters that can damage the skin.
  • Stearic acid can be harmful to the environment, particularly the aquatic environment.
  • Stearic acid can be hazardous to the digestive, immune, integumentary, ocular, and respiratory systems.

Stearamide AMP: it is an organic compound derived from a reaction involving ethylenediamine and stearic acid.  It is used as a foam booster and viscosity increasing agent.  It is thought to be of low toxicity, however very little information was available.

Triethanolamine:  also known as TEA, is a reactionary byproduct of two toxic substances: ethylene oxide and ammonia. Triethanolamine is used for several purposes in a variety of cosmetics and personal care items. Its main purpose is to balance the pH level of products, but it also helps to emulsify ingredients that usually do not blend well. This ensures they spread smoothly on skin and hair and prolongs shelf-life. Additionally, Triethanolamine is a sometimes a foaming agent and adds fragrance to products.

  • The problem then rests in the hands of the consumer, who may be absorbing small amounts Triethanolamine into their skin via many common products used daily. The accumulation of small doses of this toxic substance then becomes a large dose. Continual daily exposure over long periods of time may be extremely unhealthy.
  • Triethanolamine can cause skin, hair and eye irritation and inflammation on a short term and long-term basis. Its immediate effects include itchy, watery eyes, dry and brittle hair and itchy skin. Over time, Triethanolamine use can cause chemical damage to skin such as blisters, a hot, burning sensation, hives and flakiness.
  • In clinical trials done on animals, high doses of Triethanolamine caused liver, bladder and testicular cancer. Similar animal studies showed Triethanolamine can have negative effects on organs, even in low doses, especially when applied around the lips, mouth and eyes. Triethanolamine has also proven to be an immune system and respiratory toxicant, as well as a skin and full body allergen. It may cause genetic mutations in vitro as well.
  • Additionally, Triethanolamine can be carcinogenic when combined in products with N-nitrosating agents as these may react to form nitrosamines.


DRUGS.COM – Information on Topical Emollients

What is Vaseline Intensive Care?

Emollients are substances that moisten and soften your skin.

Topical (for the skin) emollients are used to treat or prevent dry skin. Vaseline Intensive Care are sometimes contained in products that also treat acne, chapped lips, diaper rash, cold sores, or other minor skin irritation.

Important Information

Follow all directions on your medicine label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use a topical emollient if you are allergic to it. Vaseline Intensive Care will not treat or prevent a skin infection.

Ask a doctor or pharmacist if it is safe for you to use Vaseline Intensive Care if you have: deep wounds or open sores; swelling, warmth, redness, oozing, or bleeding; large areas of skin irritation; any type of allergy; or if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.

How should I use Vaseline Intensive Care?

Use exactly as directed on the label, or as prescribed by your doctor. Do not use in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Clean the skin where you will apply the topical emollient. It may help to apply this product when your skin is wet or damp. Follow directions on the product label.

Apply a small amount of topical emollient to the affected area and rub in gently.

If you are using a stick, pad, or soap form of topical emollient, follow directions for use on the product label.

Do not use this product over large area of skin. Do not apply a topical emollient to a deep puncture wound or severe burn without medical advice.

If your skin appears white or gray and feels soggy, you may be applying too much topical emollient or using it too often.

Some forms of topical emollient may be flammable and should not be used near high heat or open flame, or applied while you are smoking.

Store as directed away from moisture, heat, and light. Keep the bottle, tube, or other container tightly closed when not in use.

What should I avoid while taking Vaseline Intensive Care?

Avoid getting Vaseline Intensive Care in your eyes, nose, or mouth. If this does happen, rinse with water.

Avoid exposure to sunlight or tanning beds. Some Vaseline Intensive Care can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight or UV rays.

Vaseline Intensive Care side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop using the topical emollient and call your doctor if you have severe burning, stinging, redness, or irritation where the product was applied.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.




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