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A reader from Silver Lake, Ohio, asked whether the regular application of Vaseline petroleum jelly to the skin can help prevent or treat wrinkles.
Wouldn't that be a simple, inexpensive remedy? A lot less bother than a face-lift.
Anecdotally, I know of a man, who is now deceased, and a woman, who still lives in Akron, Ohio, who maintained smooth skin into old age - following years of using Vaseline petroleum jelly as a moisturizer.
What is actually known about Vaseline?
I asked Ruby Ghadially, an expert in dermatology at the University of California at San Francisco. She has conducted research on the effects of Vaseline.
Here are her comments: There are hundreds of products on the market that claim to prevent wrinkles. There is evidence that certain product ingredients are effective. For example, the FDA-approved drug Retin A, which contains an ingredient called tretinoin, is a topical cream used successfully at times for treating wrinkles. There is also evidence that topical vitamin C, applied to the skin, could prevent wrinkles, although there are no extensive human trials.
As for Vaseline petroleum jelly: It is pure oil, and it may help hydrate skin and promote a healthier skin. But in terms of treating or preventing wrinkles, it doesn't do that.
Ghadially's earlier research found Vaseline an effective aid in the healing of the skin's protective barrier.
Representatives of Unilever, the company that makes Vaseline, did not respond to inquiries.
A few general things to keep in mind: Skin-care products are considered cosmetics, so they are not regulated by the federal Food and Drug Administration. So beware of overstated promises made by manufacturers. Also keep in mind there is no guarantee that an expensive product will work any better than a cheaper one.
And one final point: You can avoid damage to your skin by staying out of the sun.
The American Cancer Society recommends avoiding the sun between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Even on hazy or overcast days, the cancer society suggests using sunscreen with a sun protection factor of 15 or higher.
(Diane Evans is a staff writer at the Akron Beacon Journal. Though she has researched the information in this column, she has no training in medicine or science. Readers should consult carefully with their physicians before relying on anything in the column. If you have questions or suggestions for Evans, contact her at the Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 44309-0640, or by e-mail at email@example.com.)
(c) 2003, Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio). Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.