What’s a Moisturizer Do That Crisco Can’t?
Would you put Crisco on your face? Some women do. Some men use it for dry elbows and feet. And even if it is unusual, Crisco may less irritating than ingredients like tea tree oil in your favorite moisturizers.
But is it really a moisturizer? Actually, it has a lot in common with a few great moisturizing ingredients.
Crisco is actually a seed oil just like the jojoba oil, shea butter, tea tree and avocado oils we embrace in moisturizers. Originally Crisco was made with cottonseed oil, later the company switched to soybean seeds, one of the best moisturizing oils a product can have.
We know you don’t want to put Crisco on your face. Probably.
The Two Jobs A Good Moisturizer Should Do
Crisco does two things, should you ever put it on dry skin. It’s an emollient and an occlusive. Admittedly, it is not as elegant as other ingredients, but all moisturizers fill these same functions.
And it puts a layer of lipids on your skin that fills in open spaces between skin cells and tiny cracks on the surface. That’s why they quickly make your skin look and feel smoother.
Crisco is very mild and actually less likely to irritate the skin than some other emollients like tea tree oil, rose, lavender and citrus oils.
It is also an occlusive like petrolatum and bees wax. Once it’s on the skin, it keeps it moist by preventing water from evaporating.
So Crisco will do little if any harm unless you have acne and should not be covering your pores. Even celebrity dermatologist Dr. Jessica Wu has said that if you don't have anything else on hand, Crisco's fine.
Just a tiny brush of it on your fingertips, well massaged, won't even leave a grease spot on your pillow. As for the smell, you can add a drop of soothing essential oils like bergamot (mmm-mm, orange) or frankincense that are OK to use on the skin.
When you think about it, something safe to eat isn't likely to poison your skin.
So there's no harm in Crisco, and it means well. Still, Crisco isn't actually likely to do you any good beyond the basics because it’s a temporary moisturizer at best... And it’s not nearly as effective at sealing in moisture after a bath or shower than petrolatum, aka Vaseline.
Good moisturizers contain ingredients that carry out several functions. And here’s where Crisco comes up short.
Moisturizing. “Moisturizing” with Crisco, Vaseline, and many greasy products can temporarily trap internal moisture to prevent it from leaving your skin. Assuming there's enough moisture to capture, that can be helpful. But real moisturizing is most effective when the product is a humectant.
Humectants like hyaluronic acid (HA) attract moisture to the skin and then hang on to it. One molecule of HA can bind up to 1,000 times its weight in water, keeping your skin moist and plumped all day long.
Wrinkle-Fighting. Rubbing Crisco into wrinkles would result in shiny wrinkles. That might be a nice look for an alligator purse, but effective creams reduce wrinkles with sustained use. The best ingredient on that score is resveratrol.
Firming. Moist and unwrinkled skin is good. Now it needs support. White tea extract is one of the ingredients that improve sagging skin.
Healing. With all the pollutants in the environment, plus all the soaps, cleansers, toners, sunscreens, and makeup that we slather on, even well-behaved skin can get red and itchy. Ahhh, cocoa butter to the rescue.
The Ultimate—Building New Collagen. The other qualities are enough to make an outstanding beauty treatment, but products that encourage new collagen can make people wonder how you turned back the clock. Look for peptides in premium products to do just that.