Should You Consider a Petroleum Jelly Substitute like Waxelene?


Waxelene ($15.99, is an all-natural alternative to petroleum jelly (also known as petrolatum). Its ingredients list is short and sweet: Organic Soy Oil, Beeswax, Natural Vitamin E Oil, and Organic Rosemary Oil. Waxelene sent us a sample to try and I decided to delve into where it is both similar and different to petrolatum such as Vaseline ($2.50,

Personally, I love Waxelene (and since we were all fighting over it, I think the rest of the office agrees!). But don’t throw out your petrolatum just yet — while Waxelen and Petrolatum have some similar uses, their individual properties make them benefical for different enough uses that it’s worthwhile to keep both in your medicine cabinet.

What’s the Deal with Petroleum (Petrolatum)?


Many of the claims against petrolatum are false. It’s a great moisturizer that provides a protective barrier — unfortunately, it comes from nonrenewable resources.

Petrolatum is a first generation or occlusive moisturizer. This means that it forms a protective barrier on the skin and prevents transepidermal water loss (TEWL). They are excellent for helping with severe dryness, but are not necessarily practical for use when out and about (except on lips), as they tend to leave a tacky film on skin (Cosmetic Dermatology).

[Read More: What are the Differences between Occlusive, Humectant, and Reparative Moisturizers?]

There’s a lot of negative press about petrolatum, but that doesn’t mean that it’s actually bad. One of the biggest misconceptions is that it clogs the pores and can cause irritation. This isn’t true. Because of its occlusive nature, petrolatum will trap ingredients under it, which means if you use it in tandem with an irritating ingredient, it could increase the irritation (Allergy).

It also doesn’t cause cancer. Petroleum that is impure contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a type of hazardous pollutant (PAHs) (CDC). But petrolatum that’s intended for products is cosmetic grade and has low to no PAHs and the main fear from PAHs is their use in fuels and the issues from inhaling them.

Petrolatum that comes from the distillation of oil is nonrenewable, though it’s possible to make petrolatum from vegetable oils and waxes mixed with petrolatum that and are “hybrid petroleum.” Another option is a petroleum substitute, such as Waxelene.

[Read More: The Truth about Petrolatum]

What are the Benefits of Waxelene’s Ingredients?


Waxelene has many skin-benefitting ingredients, such as vitamin E and rosemary oil.

Soybean oil is also an occlusive moisturizer, with the same kind of protective factors as petrolatum. This occlusive property means that, like petrolatum, if it’s not applied to clean skin or is applied over potentially irritating ingredients, it could still irritate skin. But this is a precaution necessary with any occlusive moisturizer.

Soybean oil contains animo acids, isoflavins, lecithins, poly- and mono-unsaturated fats, saponins, phytosterols, phytic acid, minerals, and vitamins, amongst other things. Its isoflavone genistein has been found to stimulate production of collagen (British Journal of Dermatology).

Beeswax is also an emollient with occlusive properties and minor antioxidant properties (NC State University). When mixed with honey and olive oil, it’s been shown to have beneficial effects on people with eczema and psoriasis (Bastyr Center). As for protective properties, in one study beeswax was found to work better than barrier creams at protecting dental lab technicians hands from contact dermatitis (Journal of the Germany Society of Dermatology).

[Read More: Spotlight On: Beeswax]

Vitamin E is one of the most powerful natural antioxidants. One of the reasons it works so well on skin is because lipids dissolve it easily (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology). It comes from the pores, and is produced in the sebum (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology). It helps to protect the skin against sun and environmental damage from factors such as ozone (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology).

[Read More: Spotlight On: Vitamin E]

Rosemary oil is also an anti-oxidant and free-radical seeker, though it hasn’t been tested enough on human to understand its benefits (University of Maryland Medical Center). Its antibacterial properties also make it beneficial to acne sufferers (Planta Medica).

Petroleum (Petrolatum) vs. Waxelene, Science


When it comes to cuts, petrolatum is better than Waxelene. But when it comes to giving skin some extra nourishment with an occlusive moisturizer, Waxelene may benefit healthy skin more.

There are obvious pros and cons to both petrolatum and Waxelene.

Petrolatum comes from nonrenewable resources, which means it’s not a green-friendly product. Meanwhile, all of the ingredients in Waxelene are renewable (though, currently, certain pesticides are threatening bee populations). So, Waxelene is a more desirable product for someone looking for green cosmetics.

Unfortunately soybean oil has been shown to impair barrier function when compared to skin treated with aquaphor or sunflower seed oil in a study on newborns (Acta Paediatrica). Whereas petrolatum forms a protective barrier over the skin that’s hydrophobic (water-repellant) and doesn’t impair barrier function, which is why it’s used regularly following laser surgery (Dermatological Surgery).

On the other hand, a product like Waxelene has benefits above and beyond simply working as an occlusive moisturizer. The vitamin and rosemary are antioxidants that add even more benefits to the product. However, vitamin E can actually negatively impact scars and topical application can be detrimental to the appearance (Dermatological Surgery).

And this does comparison has, until now, not considered that petrolatum is often combined with other beneficial ingredients.

Petroleum (Petrolatum) vs. Waxelene, Use Comparison

Waxelene is not as thick as petrolatum and is about the consistency of a thick lip balm and a bit gritty. However, it’s very spreadable and moisturizing. It has a more pleasant scent than petroleum, a sort of sweet and wax smell of beeswax cut slightly by the fresh smell of rosemary. Further unlike petrolatum, it absorbs into the skin a bit more, so while it may require some reapplication to maintain a thick layer, it works better as something that can be used when you’re running out. I personally found that my skin felt softer after usage.

Bottom Line

I think there’s a place in skin care for both petrolatum and Waxelene to coexist happily, and that there’s reason you might even keep both in your medicine cabinet.

If you compare the two, it seems that petrolatum is more advisable when looking for an occlusive moisturizer that can be beneficial for protecting wounds and providing a thick barrier for skin. So, this is the product you want for minor cuts.

However, Waxelene is more nourishing to skin that straight petrolatum, which is what the product is intended to replace. So regular usage on healthy skin could result in more benefits over time. It also comes from renewable resources, so it’s definitely greener than petrolatum.This is particularly important because it does not negatively impact skin barrier function and scar appearance the way soybean oil and vitamin E do, respectively.

In my personal opinion, I think I’d use Waxelene as a regular balm for dry skin and lips and break out the petrolatum if I need it for serious protection and moisturizing.

Follow Friday + Nicki's Personal Updates: Week of November 9, 2012


Me and a good friend, Mamie!

In the shift from medical school to running FutureDerm, Inc. full-time, I’ve learned a few lessons along the way.  (For the record, I’m still technically on a leave of absence in my third year of medical school.  But after winning business competitions and launching our first product, I started to realize that this is living the dream!  I think I really wanted to become a dermatologist to revolutionize skin care – not to work in a practice.)  At any rate, I thought I’d share some of my best insights with you today:

1.)  Women worry too much about what everyone else thinks of them.

A couple of months ago, I went to a wedding with a group of friends.  It was a large, extravagant affair, with over 400 guests.  Our table, seated right in the middle of the floor, happened to be right in front of the buffet.  Ironically, the wait staff called the tables to go up to the buffet starting at either side of the room, making us dead last.

After about two hours, it was evident that everyone in the entire room had been called up to go eat.  Except for us.

“We should go up,” I said.

“Don’t be so rude,” one of the girls snapped.  “We have to wait our turn.”

“I think they just forgot us,” I replied, “I really think we should go.”

Despite my mild protest, we sat and waited.  After another 20 minutes, lo and behold, the wait staff started to pick up the food.  I ignored the other girls, walked up to a waiter, and asked if we could eat.  He started laughing at me.

“Why didn’t you just go?”

Ladies, here’s a secret of life:  You can’t make any waves if you’re always afraid of rocking the boat.  We may admire our softspoken friends with their perfectly coiffed hair and demure mannerisms, but it’s the guts not the grace that makes 80% of the difference in life.  All the power to you if you can manage both, but don’t put the cart before the horse.  Stop worrying about how everything looks to everyone else and measure your own performance on your own terms.

2.)  If you want to change your life for the better, you may have to lose a few (weaker) friendships.

Some friendships are magical, Hallmark moment-filled, once-in-a-lifetime type relationships.  You know each other’s best and worst sides, and “get” them both.  You support one another through thick and thin.  They’re the first people you call in tragedy or in triumph.  You’re in sync.

And you might get one, maybe two, friendships like this your entire life.

Many friendships are dependent on your current status:  Married or single; wealthy or impoverished; fat or thin.  You may not think so, but go ahead and lose 30 pounds, get promoted three times at work in the next year, buy a new designer wardrobe, and marry a Matthew McConaughey-look alike with the brains of Bill Gates and the personality of Jimmy Kimmel.  You’ll soon realize that your weaker friendships will change.  It’s not your fault.  In reality, it’s because many friendships exist on the basis of delicate psychological dynamics of how people interact and perceive one another (and themselves relative to their friends).

Take a step back and look at what is holding you back from getting promoted, losing weight, or living your dream.  In some cases, it could be toxic habits you and your friends have adopted – margaritas and nachos every weekend, laying around watching TV instead of being active together.  You get the idea.  Influence is subtle, but it is powerful.   And if you want to change your life, you have to be willing to step outside of your comfort zone and perhaps even your core group for a while.  Nobody ever said it wasn’t going to be painful – they just said it wasn’t easy.

3.)  You don’t have to be good at everything.  You just have to be the best at something.

True public confession:  I’m not very aware of my surroundings.  I am rather outgoing but also internalized, very focused on my own thoughts.  As a result, I lost so many ID cards in college, my dad half-jokingly allocated me a “ID card fund”.  I still misplace my keys multiple times each week.  My computer has all sorts of little nicks on it, and I have no idea where these come from.

I used to feel terrible about these qualities.  I used to try to pay attention and be more meticulous.  I bought books.  I even went through a Container Store period, hoping that would help.  And for a while, it would.  But still, when my life became busier, I started internalizing all over again.

Since I started my company, it has occurred to me:  It is more efficient (and confidence-building) to work on your assets and outsource your flaws.  Despite the fact that the American school system is based on a standard of striving towards passing grades in all subjects, in the real world, it’s better to be an A+ in a few key areas and outsource F areas to the people who are earning the A+’s there.  I love dogs, so I like to think of it like that:  We’re not all hunters or racers or cuddlers.  Some of us are just naturally better at different things (not to mention we tend to enjoy those things more too).  So instead of constantly fighting my nature, I’ve learned to accept it and work with and around it.  (And buy triple-clad insurance policies on all of my things.  Are you listening, Apple Store?)

Bottom Line

If you want to be all you can be as a woman, you can’t be afraid of what others think, nor can you be good at everything.

Follow Friday

Now for Follow Friday!



Urban Decay Pink Gravity Makeup Tutorial

Happy Friday everyone! I’ve got a makeup tutorial with Urban Decay for you today. I used colors from the UD Anniversary palette, but you can substitute similar shades if you don’t own these colors.

Urban Decay Junkshow

If you don’t own UD Junkshow, you could try UD Fishnet.
If you don’t own UD Omen, you could try UD Asphyxia.
Gravity is a core color, but if you don’t own it, another deep purple-violet would work.
If you don’t own UD Tainted, try UD Bordello.

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