Shea Butter vs. Petrolatum

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There are many lip products on the market that use Petrolatum (you may find it listed as Mineral Oil) to create glide and shine.  There are also many lip products that use Shea Butter to give that moisturized and nourished feel. Lets do a quick mini history lesson on these two ingredients.

Shea Butter: Rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin E, Shea Butter is a cream coloured fat that has been extracted from the African Shea Tree. A precious commodity from ancient times, Egyptians used Shea Butter to protect and nourish their hair and skin in desert-like conditions. There are no known health risks associated with Shea Butter.

Petrolatum (Petroleum Jelly, Mineral Oil) : Discovered in 1859, workers on oil rigs in the US discovered a material that formed on their equipment seemed to speed healing on cuts and burns. A chemist refined the substance and patented the process to make it. It was touted as a miracle healer. There is some concern that PAH’s (a contaminant commonly found in Petrolatum) are carcinogenic. In 2004 the European Union’s dangerous substance Directive banned all petroleum oils with one proviso: “The classification as a carcinogen need not apply if the full refining history is known and it can be shown that the substance from which it is produced is not a carcinogen.”

Check out the Environmental Working Groups rating page on Petrolatum for more information.

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