"Until Proven Otherwise, Mineral Oil is the Best Choice for Skin Care"

I've heard this for years.
  • From industry-employed cosmetic scientists
  • From science-interested folks 
  • From folks who look to test results – and (seemingly) only test results.

"Until proven otherwise, we're going with mineral oil."
"There is no proof that it isn't beneficial for skin"
"It's proven that it doesn't cause allergies"
"Mineral oil is the most efficient occlusive and therefore the most efficient at helping skin maintain moisture."
"It's tested and proven safe."
"There is no proof that it clogs pores"

Well halleluja.

I still think they're all dead wrong.

You Dare to Question Science, Lise?!?

I believe there's something missing to this story – because after digging around for what feels like centuries to research studies on petrolatum vs plant oils, I've arrived at the following conclusions:

  • A/B testing on petrolatum vs non-petrolatum-based oils for specific functions on live human subjects hasn't been done.
  • The tests that are being pointed to as proof of petrolatum's superiority are not only outdated, but are not 'telling enough of the story'

I maintain that non-petrolatum-based ingredients are more beneficial and better at moisturizing human skin!

I believe a non-petrolatum-based lip balm can and will outperform any petrolatum-based lip balm, providing more moisture, more comfort and a more long-term effect.

So Prove it, Smarty-Pants

After preaching the evils of mineral oil for yonks (that's British for 'ages'), I've decided to put my money where my mouth is and do a study.

I'm putting petrolatum to the test!

The Dry Lipped Study Group

A test group of 30 persons with self-proclaimed 'constantly dry lips' will be chosen for this study. The chosen testers will be vigilant lip balm users - PETROLATUM-based lip balm users. They will swear by their lip balm and love it so much they won't go anywhere without it.

These carefully chosen testers will be equipped with samples of my Ultimate Balm Gloss Pot (with no added essential oils) and asked to forsake their beloved present product for a period of 2 weeks in favor of my non-petrolatum-based balm.

They will then be asked to provide their 100% brutally honest feedback.

In all Fairness

Because I (obviously) have an interest in the outcome of this test, I have enlisted the help of Anette at BeautySpace who has graciously accepted and promised to recruit dry-lipped testers and ensure that everything is carried out in a fair and proper manner.

Anettes readers are interested in beauty products – all beauty products. They have no affiliation to me, so won't particularly care if my product is better or worse than the one they already use and dearly love. They will provide frank feedback because their comments will be completely anonymous.

That's as neutral and fair as I can get this.

Now it's up to the dry-lipped, petrolatum-based lip balm users that are recruited as test subjects.

Stay tuned. I promise to update.

I'm excited.


Anonymous said…
I'm really looking forward to results of this experiment! Can't wait!

Polish bloggers very often claim that plant oils are better than petrolatum, but I’m not sure if they are objective enough...
LisaLise said…
Thanks Foster. I'm excited about this test. I of course agree with any bloggers or others who claim the superiority of plant oils. And I admit I am not objective enough about this. My love of plant-based oils came about when I stopped using petrolatum-based products and saw how my own skin reacted. So my objectivity is clearly not present when it comes to petrolatum. That's not to say it might be better for some... nope, sorry, I take that back. I really don't think it is better at all. Let's hope I don't prove myself wrong with this test!
Anonymous said…
Wouldnt it be even more unbiased to do a blind test - half the triallists use a petrolatum based balm for 2 weeks, the other half a natural one, then swap over for the next two weeks. That way all triallists try both without knowing which is which and give their honest unbiased opinions on both? You could even make it double blind - where the trial runner doesnt know who has had what until the end (ie samples are unidentified completely until the results are collated....) Just a thought. Jo
LisaLise said…
Hi Jo,

I hear you. My problem with the blind test would be creating an identical looking petrolatum-based product. As I don't work with petrolatum, I would have to choose an existing product. It would have to be one that looked identical to my product. I've never seen one that comes close enough.

Also, test persons asked to use a random petrolatum-based product would be able to claim that their favored lip product 'would have done a better job' for one reason or another.

My reasoning for choosing people that are already self-proclaimed incarnate petrolatum product users actually gives my product a tougher chance to win. As I so often write on this blog: I love a challenge. I look forward to seeing how this one goes.

Unknown said…
I have consistently dry lips. I have used the average petrolatum based lip balm for years. I am anxious to see the results of the study.
LisaLise said…
Thanks Laura, I am pretty excited about this as well. oh, and happy birthday! :)
Anonymous said…
Hi Lisa, I spent YEARS using pure petroleum on my lips (Vaseline) and they got progressively drier and drier until it was unbearable to have nothing on them. I switched to a beeswax-based balm and the problem was fixed. I went from applying lip balm every half hour to once or twice a day.

I wonder if Laura Roots might have the same issue?
LisaLise said…
Hey there Mixtress :)

You and I have the same experiences with petrolatum I see. I was a staunch user of vaseline as well - same story! Laura may very well be experiencing the same thing. What confuses me the most is, there doesn't seem to be any evidence that petrolatum dries the skin yet I meet sooooo many people with the same experiences you and I have had. What's up with that?!
Colin said…
Sorry I missed this until the results have come out. There is no doubt in my mind that beeswax is a better moisturiser for the lips than petrolatum, all other things being equal. It gives a longer lasting effect and absorbs more easily. I think the reason that petrolatum scores better in objective testing and some people get better results with it is quite simply that it is easier to produce a thick film with petrolatum than beeswax products. This gives it an advantage when you do a controlled test. I never use petrolatum myself.
LisaLise said…
Colin, I am thrilled to hear this from a scientist! I would really like to do another test under more ideal conditions (double blind with a bigger study group), but financing is an issue. I did a blog post with the conclusions asking interested (sufficiently funded) parties to get in touch, but so far, no one has taken the bait. Maybe one day soon...

Thanks so much for your input . :)