Community//

Most of Us Are Eating Pounds of Petroleum Jelly

What’s So Wrong With That?

My addiction to cherry chapstick began so early in life that I don’t ever remember a time when I was willing to leave my house without a tube of it in my pocket and probably another in my backpack as a backup. As an adult I also keep them stashed in my purse and in the glove box of my car. It is rare that I go more than 20 minutes without applying some kind of covering to my lips. Why? Because every time they are completely bare, they feel unbearably exposed, dry, chapped, and uncomfortable. Even when I take my kids swimming, I slip a tube of chapstick into the swim bag so I can hop out of the pool to quickly reapply and hop back in again, barely missing a beat.

Considering that I am 41 years old and that this started sometime before I was 5, I can only imagine that I have personally consumed many hundreds of tubes of chapstick in my life. But it never really occurred to me how bad this might be until my oldest daughter who has autism and severe food allergies started finding my chapstick stashes and straight up eating the chapstick in big gulping bites. I guess I was aware that there were non-food ingredients in chapstick, and sure I probably also realized that the reason I keep needing to apply is that I lick my lips and eat food and that when those things happen the chapstick ends up in my digestive tract. But seeing my daughter eat it like candy was a totally different experience.

When I looked up “negative effects of eating petroleum jelly” I found a lot of articles. Most say that in small doses it’s totally fine and safe and all good. However, when I dug a bit deeper I found this article which claims that the average woman eats 6-9 pounds of chapstick in her life. I’m sure my personal addiction is not exactly average. I probably ate 9 pounds by the time I was in my 20s. And then I found a bunch more articles once I started using the terms petrolatum (another term for petroleum jelly as it is used in personal products like chapstick) and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs.

One of the main concerns regarding the consumption and digestion of petrolatum is possible contamination of PAHs. Why? Well because PAHs are toxic, known to cause both cancer and endocrine disruption and they are bio-accumulative which means they build up in your body over time and have a cumulative effect. The main health condition that has been tied to PAHs is breast cancer. The FDA has restrictions on the use of petrolatum in food products and food packaging, but not in cosmetics. Both Canada and Europe ban the use of petrolatum in cosmetics as well as in food.

As I learned all of this I became more determined than ever to keep petrolatum out of my daughter’s mouth and off my lips. So what’s a chapstick-addicted woman to do? I went searching for the best possible, all-natural solution which led me to connect with Brenda Mierzejewski, founder, and maven of MizziCosmetics. Brenda understood my chapstick addiction. She knew my pain. And as someone who worked in the pharma industry before becoming a stay at home mom, she also knew all the reasons she didn’t want petrolatum on her own kids’ lips.

“When my family moved up into the mountains of Portland, CT there was some kind of wind tunnel that went right past our front porch. My kids, my husband, myself, we were all constantly applying chapsticks and lip balms. We started getting these red rings around our lips from the products. I thought we were all getting sick, but then I realized it was from the ingredients in the chapstick.”

Yes, exactly. And the more you use, the more you need to use. I knew this situation so well! But unlike me and so many others who wish there was something better but have no idea how to find it or make it, Brenda came up with a solution herself.

“I talked to some of my friends from when I worked in pharma and came up with a really good all-natural vegan base. From there I used natural oils for hydration and protection, like coconut oil, almond oil, and jojoba oil. But for healing, I put in essential oils. Petroleum products are just a barrier. They kind of protect the skin, but they also cover the pores and don’t actually help with the healing process. So it never really makes the condition better. But these natural oils and essential oils, they actually heal.”

I was excited about all of this, but because of my daughter’s severe food allergies that include peanuts and all tree nuts, I was worried about the use of nut oils in the lip balms. “Yes, most of them do use nut oils, but we do have one totally allergen-free product called bareKiss.”

Fantastic! Shortly after our talk, I received a pot of bareKiss and a pot of Plumping Peppermint LuxeLips from MizziCosmetics. My daughter Tallulah has been using the bareKiss and I have been using the Plumping Peppermint exclusively since then and I can report that not only does it last longer when I put it on, I feel less desperate when it does finally wear off. It also has a really lovely gloss effect that looks amazing both with or without lipstick. This is definitely my new always-must-have-with-me lip balm. Best of all, I’m no longer eating petrolatum!

Want to cure your chapstick addiction and stop eating cancer-causing petrolatum on a regular basis too? Then hop on over to MizziCosmetics and check out their lovely range of vegan-based, all natural lip balms here.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.