These chemicals are derived from fossil fuels and include gasoline, coal, tar, and petrolatum, also known as petroleum jelly, a very common ingredient in beauty products. Petrolatum is an inexpensive and effective sealant that traps moisture, but it may contain trace impurities of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH), a possible carcinogen.
Manufacturers can eliminate these contaminants through a chemical process. However, a 2001 study found tiny quantities of PAHs in multiple petroleum jelly brands. The risk of exposure has not been confirmed, but if you’re concerned, look for products without petrolatum, petroleum jelly, or mineral oil in the ingredient list.