Effective, inexpensive and readily available, petroleum jelly -- also known as petrolatum -- is a skin-care product that has been used for generations. Although petroleum jelly isn't actually a moisturizer and contains no water, it works by creating a protective barrier that prevents evaporation and seals moisture in the skin. Petroleum jelly doesn't prevent wrinkles or delay aging, but it can help you present a more youthful appearance by smoothing and softening fine lines.
Take a warm shower or bath. Limit bathing to 10 minutes or less because longer showers and baths strip the natural moisture from the skin.
Pat your face gently with a fluffy towel, but don't pat the skin until it is completely dry. Avoid rubbing, which may irritate and dry your face.
Apply petroleum jelly to your face while your skin is still warm and slightly moist from the shower. Dab a small amount of petroleum jelly on your fingers, then massage the jelly into your cheeks, chin, forehead and nose, using gentle, circular motions. If your neck is dry, apply petroleum jelly using long, upward strokes from the lower part of your neck to your chin. Massage your skin lightly until the jelly is absorbed and your face and fingers are dry.
Reapply petroleum jelly after every shower or bath and every time you cleanse your face so that it can seal the moisture in your skin cells.
Smooth petroleum jelly into dry, chapped areas as needed throughout the day.
- Harvard Medical School: 9 Ways to Banish Dry Skin
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- Vanderbilt University: Follow These Cold-Weather Tips for Taking Care of Your Skin
- Brigham Young University College of Life Sciences: Material Safety Data Sheet: Petrolatum, White
- Brown University Health Services: Winter Dry Skin
- Harvard Medical School: What to do About Dry Skin in Winter
- Look for petroleum jelly labeled 100-percent pure. Although other products are often less expensive, they may contain impure ingredients, including some that may be carcinogenic.
- Always wash your face with a gentle, moisturizing skin cleanser. Avoid harsh soap or products containing alcohol or fragrance. As a general rule, liquid cleansers provide more moisture than bar soaps.
- A humidifier can ease dry skin by elevating the humidity in your home, especially during the winter.
- Apply petroleum jelly gently to the delicate skin under your eyes, but be careful not to get it in your eyes because petroleum jelly can cause minor eye irritation.
- Stop using petroleum jelly if your skin becomes itchy, red or irritated. Although petroleum jelly is considered nontoxic, some people may experience skin irritation after repeated use.
M.H. Dyer began her writing career as a staff writer at a community newspaper and is now a full-time commercial writer. She writes about a variety of topics, with a focus on sustainable, pesticide- and herbicide-free gardening. She is an Oregon State University Master Gardener and Master Naturalist and holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative nonfiction writing.
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