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If you won’t put it IN your body, should you put it ON your body?

Posted Apr 11 2009 12:25am
Crisco Shortening. We’re all familiar with the blue can – it was probably a staple in all our childhood kitchens. And maybe we’ve given up using it to cook with because of its high concentrations of hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated oils ( trans fats ).

Lately, there has been a lot of chatter about the benefits of Crisco for your skin and hair. Yes, you heard me correctly. For your skin and hair. Sounds rather bizarre, doesn’t it?

But let’s look at the ingredients of Crisco: Soybean oil, fully hydrogenated cottonseed oil, partially hydrogenated cottonseed and soybean oils. So, basically, natural oils hydrogenated to turn them into solid form.

I use natural oils on my skin and hair all the time. Jojoba oil, vitamin E oil, almond oil, emu oil, squalene oil - and I’ve just ordered some avocado oil, which is supposed to work wonders for those of us who have been cursed with straw in place of hair. I love them all and they are super-moisturizing for my dry, wrinkly face. And my dimpled body. Yeah. Try not to get a visual with that one.

I have read that Crisco is used in hospital settings to treat burn victims and those with severe eczema. It has also been used on skin tears caused by edema (severe swelling due to fluid accumulation).

I read of another doctor who had this to say about Crisco: "If you want the cheapest home remedy going, use Crisco. It's a wonderful moisturizer that covers the skin and keeps water locked in. The key is to use very little and rub it in well so your hands don't feel greasy. Your skin needs only two molecules' worth [Jelly Belly interjection: WHAT? ] of barrier thickness to protect it from water loss. They used to call Crisco Cream C at Duke University, where doctors dispensed it freely. It really works."

If all that’s true (and I don’t really have any reason to doubt it), then it sure sounds like Crisco could be a moisturizing mini-miracle, doesn’t it?

Outside of the medical community, countless women (and probably a few men) are using Crisco on their faces, bodies and hair – and reporting great results. And it’s cheap. Under $5 for the small can which should last a really long time (considering you only need two molecules worth and whatnot).

I ran out and bought some (hiding the can from Mr. Jelly Belly, lest he get overly excited thinking I was going to make a pie) and, feeling foolish, gave it a try. I slathered it all over my alligator legs and feet, my elbows and my hands. Then I avoided all open flames.

The result? Wow. Soft and smooth. In fact, my legs are SO DRY that it took three very generous slatherings before it stopped immediately absorbing. I didn’t have the nerve to try it on my face and hair, so you’ll have to do your own experiment if you want to know the answer to that. I have my limits.

But whenever an inexpensive miracle product is discovered, there are always going to be naysayers who will kill your buzz – and darnit, make me think about what I am doing. God, I hate that.

The argument most widely heard is that anything you put ON your body, you are putting IN your body. If you think about it, that makes sense. How else do you explain trans-dermal drugs like progesterone and estrogen creams? Not to mention nicotine patches. They work because you put them ON YOUR SKIN and they go through your skin and work internally.

Now I’m no scientist, so I don’t know if trans fats can penetrate your skin and work their way into your arteries or not. And I don’t even know how I would go about finding that out. But I’ll bet the answer lies somewhere in molecular size and structure. And that, my friends, bores me nearly to tears. But I do know that I don’t want my death certificate to list “cause of death” as Crisco.

On the other hand, people use salt on their bodies in the form of scrubs all the time - and I’ve never heard of hypertension due to excessive exfoliation, have you?

To sum it up, I’ll just say I don’t have any real answers as to the effect of using trans fats on your skin. So you just did a lot of reading for no pay off. To make it up to you, I offer you these alternative uses for Crisco:

Removal of tar and lipstick from clothing.
Removal of ink, grease and dirt from surfaces and hands.
Revitalizing the surfaces of wooden utensils such as bowls and cutting boards.
Shedding water and snow from weather gear such as galoshes and snow shovels.
Preventing diaper rash.
As a makeup base.
For seasoning cast iron cookware.

As a sexual lubricant [ oh, I can picture the Google hits already ], it has been popular for some 40 years, as it is long-lasting, cheap, and does not exude a strong odor. However, as with other oil-based lubricants such as Vaseline, it can degrade latex and is unsuitable for use with latex condoms.

For episiotomy prevention. [ I am totally NOT going into details on that one; use your imagination – it involves “seasoning” like the cast iron skillet. ]

Okay, now all I have left to do is cutely alter my Crisco can in such a way that it won’t lead to behind-my-back gossip if people spot it in my bathroom.
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