Dry skin is something many of us have to deal with, especially if you live in a dry, in-land area. Aside from just being visually unappealing, it can cause intense and constant itchiness that can result in deep red patches and can drive some people crazy.


To combat dry skin, many people lather on moisturizer throughout the day to reduce the feeling of dryness and the discomfort that comes along with it. Although these moisturizers may make your skin feel better, you might want to consider avoiding certain brands. This is because one study found that many popular moisturizers have been found to boost tumor growth and possibly the development of skin cancer as well.

Moisturizers and Tumor Growth

One study published in the HHS Public Access archives looked at the relationship between applying moisturizers and tumor growth in mice that were considered to be at a high risk of developing skin cancer.

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Researchers used four popular moisturizer brands during the study. These these were Dermabase, Dermovan, Eucerin Original Moisturizing Cream (Eucerin), and Vanicream. 100 milligrams of each moisturizer was topically applied to mice who had been exposed to UV radiation once a day, five days a week for approximately 17 weeks.

According to the study, topical application of these moisturizers for 17 weeks led to an increased rate of tumors being produced and also increased the size of these tumors. In total, researchers concluded that the use of these commercial moisturizers in mice that were at risk of skin cancer increased their tumor growth by 69%.

This study was a breakthrough in terms of testing moisturizer safety, as in the past moisturizers were only tested for irritant activity and their effect on the immune system and were never tested for carcinogenic activity.

Researchers believe that two substances commonly found in popular moisturizers were the culprit behind this increased tumor growth. One of these is sodium lauryl sulfate, which is a known irritant, and the other is mineral oil, which is known to stimulate tumorigenesis, otherwise known as the formation of cancer cells.


In conclusion, the study suggests that the use of some popular moisturizer brands may speed up the growth of sunlight-induced skin cancer.

Natural Moisturizers

Although many popular moisturizer brands contain the two cancer-causing ingredients discussed above, there are many moisturizers that make use of natural, skin-smoothing substances. Here are some of those substances:

Argan Oil. This oil is extracted from the fruit of the Argan tree, which is native to Morocco. It is rich in vitamin E, which is well known for its skin-protective benefits. Aside from being able to relieve symptoms of dry skin, it can also be used to treat wrinkles, psoriasis and eczema.

Olive Oil. Olive oil is one of the more popular natural moisturizers, again due to its abundance of vitamin E. But, what makes this moisturizer so special is that it has been shown to actually protect against skin cancer. One study looked at the effect that topically applying olive oil had on mice that had UV-induced skin carcinogenesis.

Researchers found that it reduced the size and growth rate of skin tumors. They attributed this effect to the antioxidant activity produced by olive oil.


Pomegranate. Pomegranate extract has been found to protect skin against dryness and premature aging caused by sun exposure. This effect is attributed to the active ingredient in pomegranate called catechin, which is a natural phenol and antioxidant.

Other ways you can naturally increase the moisture of your skin include:

  • Avoiding long, hot showers (this strips the natural oils from your bodies)
  • Use a humidifier
  • Eat foods rich in omega-3’s, this strengthens the skin’s natural oil-retaining properties
  • Drink lots and lots of water

For more natural skin care products, click here.


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