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Should You Put Crisco on Your Face?

December 6, 2018 By Dr. William S. Gruss, M.D.

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Some lovely ladies swear by it. Even some he-men think Crisco is great for rough elbows and dry feet.

But Crisco on your face? You're probably thinking, no way, yuck, won't you smell like a pie? Or worse, a french fry.

Surprisingly, you'd smell just fine. And Crisco has been the “secret” beauty regime for more than a few older women who greet the day with glowing skin at any age. 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.

Crisco won't do you any harm unless you are an acne-prone teenager. The ingredients are pure vegetable oils. And when you think about it, something safe to eat isn't likely to poison your skin.

Crisco doesn't even have trans-fats in it anymore. J.M. Sucker, the company that owns Crisco, took the partially hydrogenated vegetable oils that were the culprit out of the formula in 2007.

To be fair to Crisco, the trans-fats were originally thought to be healthy. They were introduced as an alternative to saturated fats, especially that old-timey baking staple called lard.

So there's no harm in Crisco, and it means well. But the little old ladies with glowing skin who swear by it probably have amazing genetics in their corner. They'd probably look just as good with a nightly Campbell's Tomato Soup rubdown. Maybe just a bit pinker, which is always a nice touch, too.

Still, Crisco isn't actually likely to do you any good beyond the basics. It's a temporary moisturizer at best... a fair performer at sealing in moisture after a shower or bath, but not a healing or long-term solution.


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Crisco lacks several traits that true beauty creams should have.

Moisturizing. 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 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, cleaners, 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.

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