Vegetable Oils Show Comparable Skin Occlusion to Petrolatum

oil feet rub dry skin
oil feet rub dry skin
The occlusive abilities of different vegetable oils commonly used in skincare cosmetics are assessed.

Vegetable oils can provide an effective and sustainable alternative to petrolatum in skincare formulations and provide comparable skin occlusion performance during a 6-hour time period, according to study findings published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.

This study included 80 healthy women participants (aged 18 to 60 years) with normal to dry skin who had active dermatitis and presence of cutaneous marks in the experimental area. Transepidermal water loss (TEWL) measurements were recorded before baseline and after 15 minutes, 2 hours, and 6 hours of emollient application on the participants’ forearms. Participants were randomly assigned to 1 of 4 study groups (A, B, C, and D), with each group receiving isolated applications of 1 or 2 emollients, 1 application of petrolatum, and 1 area not treated (control). The significance of TEWL variation between baseline and post-application, as well as between the treated and untreated areas, were compared using a 1-way ANOVA test and Dunnett’s test.

According to researchers, vegetable oils demonstrated significant effectiveness in decreasing TEWL after 15 minutes, 2 hours, and 6 hours, and provided a skin occlusion effect for at least 6 hours (P <.05). No significant TEWL variation was observed in the untreated area among the 4 groups. Compared with petrolatum, canola oil resulted in significantly lower skin occlusion for at least 2 hours of application (P <.05), but after 6 hours, no significant difference was observed (P >.05). Compared with petrolatum, ricinus communis seed oil, prunus amygdalus dulcis oil, helianthus annuus seed oil, and carya illinoinensis seed oil showed no significant difference in skin occlusion after 2 and 6 hours of application (P >.05).

The study researchers concluded, “The vegetable oils are able to provide a significant skin occlusion effect from baseline.” Researchers further noted, “The vegetable oils did not provide a high immediate skin occlusion effect (15 minutes post-application) as the petrolatum…most of them showed a skin occlusion performance comparable to petrolatum throughout the 6-hour time course.” The combination of an “occlusive performance equivalent to petrolatum, as well as the increasing tendency to use green, sustainable and natural products, may justify the replacement of this conventional ingredient with oils of vegetable origin, in skincare products.”


Pinto JR, e Silva SAM, Holsback VSS, Leonardi GR. Skin occlusive performance: sustainable alternatives for petrolatum in skincare formulations Published online January 17, 2022. J Cosmet Dermatol. doi:10.1111/jocd.14782