Saturday, 11 June 2011

Ingredient Spotlight: Petroleum


What is it Petroleum?

 Petroleum is a thick, flammable liquid found naturally in the earth. It is a crude fossil fuel and is composed of hydrocarbons.

How do we use Petroleum?

Hydrocarbons are currently the most widely used source of electrical energy. In addition to powering cars and heating homes, we use a lot of petroleum based products very frequently. This ingredient is found in common plastics like toys, Tupperware and Styrofoam. It is also used to add color to clothing, make crayons, make asphalt, coat non-stick cookware, and lubricate car engines.

Why do we use Petroleum?

This ingredient is useful for many things we use every day, manufacturers use it because it is an unbelievably cheap ingredients, and the average person usually doesn't realize they are using petroleum based products.

What is the issue with using Petroleum?

Although petroleum is useful for a lot of everyday products and is cheap for companies to use, petroleum has unfortunately made its way into cosmetic products.  Petroleum can be found in makeup, foundation, shampoo, body lotions, cleansers, and hair products. Based on its chemical structure, petroleum coats wherever it is applied and produces undesirable cosmetic effects, such as : oily residue, greasiness, stickiness and dryness. When used on the hair, it coats the strands and prevents moisture from penetrating or escaping the hair shaft.

Researchers by the name of Reutsch, Kamath, Rele, and Mohile(2001) found that  mineral oils (aka petroleum) do not penetrate the human hair shaft well. In that study, the researchers treated virgin (unprocessed, undamaged) human hair with mineral oil. Using a highly sensitive device to measure how much mineral oil penetrated the hair shaft, they found that the mineral oil did not penetrate the inner layers of the hair shaft, but simply rested on the outermost layer.

When petroleum is used on the hair, it coats the strands and prevents moisture from penetrating or escaping the hair shaft.This can leave the hair dry and prone to breakage. When used on the scalp, it blocks the pores on the scalp and prevents it from breathing and functioning normally. This can produce boils on the scalp, lead to dryness and itchiness, and block the hair follicle from pushing new, healthy hair from the scalp.

Imagine an oil spill; the BP oil spill comes closest to mind. There were numerous pictures of oil- covered wildlife. The sticky oil coated the fur and skin of many unsuspecting animals and sea creatures, smothering them. The oil left a film that could not be removed by simple washing. It required the help of harsh detergents and rigorous scrubbing. Using products containing petroleum does this to your hair and scalp; it coats the hair and scalp with a layer of water repellent film. The hair and scalp do not receive vital moisture and, as a result, become dry.

You choose:
 I have found once I stopped using products containing petroleum on my hair and scalp, my hair's health changed dramatically the better. My hair was no longer  heavy, oily, brittle, crunchy, and dry. My scalp no longer looked and felt flaky and dirty. Even more amazing was that I could finally touch my hair and not feel like I had to wipe my hands immediately afterward.
Petroleum in itself is not terrible, but the effects it can have on your hair can prevent you from having the healthy hair you are meant to have. The structure of its molecules prevent moisture from getting to where it is most needed, which can lead to dryness. If you do choose to use petroleum, be aware that you may need to frequently remove the filmy buildup left behind with strong detergents or run the risk of  having dry hair and an unhealthy scalp.
If you do choose to avoid using petroleum, look at the ingredients list of your products and stop using products with petroleum. Petroleum has many names so if you want to avoid it completely, make sure your products of choice do not contain any of these ingredients: Petroleum, mineral oil, petrolatum, petroleum jelly, Liquidum paraffinum , paraffin wax, paraffin oil

Sources:
http://www.beautybanter.com/2008/09/5-unconventional-uses-for-vaseline.html (picture)  

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