I love pawpaw balm. It’s one of the things that’s always in my medicine box at home, and I’ve usually got a tube floating around in my handbag. I use it as a lipbalm, on scrapes and scratches, and on dry skin. My kids go and grab it whenever they’ve got something wrong, too.
Pawpaw (or papaya, as it’s also known) is a popular traditional medicine in many parts of the world. The whole plant has medicinal benefits – the roots, bark, skin of the fruit, the seeds of the fruit and the fruit itself can be used. There’s lots of evidence to suggest that the fruit of the pawpaw has all sorts of different therapeutic properties for skin. It’s beneficial for use on burns, for wound healing, and has been used traditionally for other skin conditions like eczema.
In Australia, pawpaw balms and ointments are very popular as a topical skin application. But there are big differences between brands. Some pawpaw balms aren’t much more than moisturisers with paw paw flavouring.
I recently came across a new pawpaw balm from a brand I love, and decided that it was time to do a pawpaw balm smackdown. I’m comparing the Little Innoscents Organic PawPaw Balm with the popular mainstream brand Lucas’ Papaw Ointment.
Little Innoscents Organic Paw Paw Balm
Ingredients: Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter*, Cera Alba (Beeswax)*, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil*, Carica Papaya Fruit Extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Cherry Coconut Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract. *Certified Organic.
Price: 50gms for $7.95 (Available at Hello Charlie)
The ingredients in this are lovely. There are great moisturising oils like sunflower seed and avocado oil, and a high percentage of shea butter to add even more moisturisation. And unlike many pawpaw balms, Little Innoscents has a lot of pawpaw in their formula – 10% pawpaw.
Lucas’ Papaw Ointment
Ingredients: Carica Papaya 39mg/g Fresh Fermented Fruit, Pharmaceutical Grade Petroleum Jelly and Wax, Gum Balsam Peru
Price: 25g for $4.95, 75g for $9.95
Lucas’ Papaw Ointment is mostly made from petroleum jelly, with a smidge of Peru Balsam for scent. The Peru Balsam is natural and there are no issues with it. There’s 39mg/g (3.9%) pawpaw in the formulation, so it’s nowhere near as high as Little Innoscents.
The issue is the petroleum jelly. While it’s very neutral and is unlikely to cause irritation or allergy issues, it’s not a great environmental choice.
What’s the problem with petroleum jelly?
A quick internet search comes up with lots of articles saying that petroleum jelly is banned in the EU, but this isn’t quite correct. Purified petroleum jelly is fine, it’s the improperly refined petroleum jelly and mineral oils that can’t be used in cosmetics. The issue with improperly refined petroleum jelly is that it can contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Some PAHs may be carcinogenic, which is why unrefined petroluem jelly is a concern. However, if the petroleum jelly is properly refined, PAHs aren’t present, and so aren’t a concern.
EWG’s Skindeep Database lists petroleum jelly as a 4 (moderate hazard) due to contamination concerns.
Petroleum jelly is of course a by product of crude oil. It’s not a renewable resource, and there are environmental concerns about the way crude oil is extracted and processed. There’s a good article here that outlines some of the environmental impact of drilling and processing petroleum.
Of course, plant based products can also have issues. Palm oil is a prime example of a plant based ingredient causing major environmental problems because of the way it’s being grown.
However, choosing responsibly sourced, plant based ingredients is preferable, at least in my opinion, to using petroleum based products.
The prices are the same. So when you’ve got a choice between an ACO organic plant based product like the Little Innoscents PawPaw Balm, and a petroleum based product like the Lucas’ Papaw Ointment, why would you go with the Lucas?
What’s your favourite pawpaw balm? Share below!
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