What is Sorbolene & Is It Good For Your Skin?

What is Sorbolene & Is It Good For Your Skin?

If you have any inexpensive moisturisers in your beauty cabinet, you probably have one or more varieties of Sorbolene products. 

What Is Sorbolene?

Sorbolene is an all-purpose cream commonly sold as a moisturiser but often used as an alternative to soap or make-up remover.  Manufactured by many different companies, Sorbolene is one of the most common and inexpensive varieties of moisturiser on the market.
Sorbolene is sometimes sold under the ingredient name, and at other times it’s combined with other ingredients and sold under a brand-name.  If you look at the ingredients list of any inexpensive moisturisers or barrier creams in your make-up cabinet, you'll probably find that most or all of them are Sorbolene based.
In fact, Sorbolene products are the highest selling beauty products in Australian department stores and pharmacies.  This is largely because they are considered excellent value for money, and also because they are so well-known they are considered a staple of a normal beauty or skincare regime.
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What Ingredients Does Sorbolene Contain?

While Sorbolene products are usually marketed as moisturisers, they are more properly classified as barrier creams.  This is because Sorbolene products are created using the by-products of petrochemicals, including paraffin and mineral oils.  These by-products may appear under several different names in an ingredients list, including paraffin oil, liquid paraffin, petrolatum, and mineral oil.  It is the same ingredient that makes up the majority of petroleum jellies and baby oils.
Most Sorbolene products contain between 40 and 60 percent mineral oils, with the next largest ingredient being water.  The high oil content makes the product linger on the surface of the skin rather than being immediately absorbed.
Sorbolene doesn't contain added colours or fragrances, which are the two biggest additives likely to cause skin irritations.  This is another reason for the immense popularity of Sorbolene products. However, a closer look at Sorbolene ingredients shows that colours and fragrances are not the only additives that people should be aware of when choosing skincare products.
Petrochemical by-products are as dangerous as they sound.  Many petrochemicals are contaminated with known carcinogens including Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons.
Other common ingredients in Sorbolene products are emulsifiers and synthetic preservatives.  Emulsifiers like ceteth-20 can cause irritation to the lungs, eyes, and skin, toxicity to the organ system, and even neurotoxicity.  It is the primary reason for the well-publicised class actions against Kimberly-Clark, Procter & Gamble, and Johnson & Johnson in the United States.
Similarly, synthetic preservatives, which may appear on ingredient lists with names ending in "paraben", for example, propylparaben and methylparaben, have been linked with hormone disruption and even cancer.
What is Sorbolene without water?  We all know the water is the safest ingredient in any product, however, caution must be taken if the water is not specifically listed as "purified water".  Manufacturers often add ingredients known as EDTAs (most commonly disodium EDTA and tetrasodium EDTA) to water rather than using purified water. EDTAs remove metal salts, making the final product appear whiter and softer.  They also cause changes to the skin cells to allow chemicals to penetrate and be absorbed more easily.

Is Sorbolene Good For The Skin?

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Barrier Cream

Sorbolene products should be more properly thought of as barrier creams rather than moisturisers. 
Interestingly, with most containing EDTA ingredients as mentioned above, Sorbolene can cause changes to the natural make-up of the skin cells, shutting down the skin’s natural ability to act as a barrier against chemicals and environmental factors.
Is Sorbolene good for your skin?  As a barrier cream, Sorbolene products claim to "lock in moisture".  However, if there isn't already enough moisture in your skin, barrier creams do little more than block out natural forms of moisture that your skin would otherwise have been able to access.

Temporary Relief

Sorbolene products are most commonly recommended for people with skin conditions that cause the skin to feel itchy, irritated, or dry.  Sorbolene will provide a temporary feeling of relief, making the skin feel moist and smooth. However, this is solely due to the presence of mineral oil and other petrochemical by-products sitting on the surface of the skin.  Once these oils deteriorate or are washed from the skin, the feelings of itchiness, irritation, or dryness will return.

Prevents Skin From Breathing

As a barrier cream, Sorbolene cream creates an invisible film on the skin's surface, blocking the pores and halting the body's ability to naturally perspire and respire.
This is bad news in particular for people dealing with acne or other skin conditions.  Blocked pores can cause oil and dirt to become trapped: prime conditions for various types of acne to form.

Builds Up In The Body

Sorbolene may not be an effective moisturiser, but is Sorbolene safe?  Unfortunately, although the petrochemical by-products and other oils used in the creation of Sorbolene create a barrier on the skin, they will eventually find their way into your system. This is certainly the case since we now know that some of the ingredients used to treat the water used as an ingredient (rather than using purified water) can cause your skin's natural defences to break down.
The oils and petrochemical by-products used in Sorbolene products will eventually make their way into your body, and since they cannot be properly digested or processed by your skin, these harmful ingredients will stay in your body and accumulate.
You should now have a good understanding of what is Sorbolene and why, when it comes to beauty products, the cheapest is not always the best.  Unfortunately, Sorbolene is so well ingrained in the beauty product vernacular that everyone from well-meaning family members to highly trained dermatologists are likely to recommend Sorbolene as a moisturiser or treatment for various skin conditions.
Rather than using harmful chemicals on your skin, take the time to find beauty products that will nourish and hydrate your skin. Société's Calming Relief Balm contains natural ingredients, such as aloe vera and shea butter, to eliminate skin dryness. For a full body moisturiser, try Body Therapy by PCA Skin to enhance your skin's natural moisture levels. If you aren't sure which product is best for your skin, the friendly team at Clinica Lase will be happy to recommend beauty products that will nourish and benefit your body, rather than cause harm.
If you're looking for an instant feeling of rejuvenation and rehydration, consider a treatment such as an oxygen facial that treats your body to essential vitamins and minerals, peptides, and antioxidants to leave your skin feeling fresh, lifted, plump, and perfectly hydrated.