Is Vaseline Good for Your Skin?

Is Vaseline Good for Your Skin?

For years, the trend was to starve the skin of moisture. It seemed like every product (especially those targeted towards oily skin types and blemish-prone skin types) was packed with drying, irritating ingredients that completely stripped the skin of its natural moisture.

“Using a petroleum product (like Vaseline or Aquaphor) might not hurt your skin, but unless you’re suffering from dryness, it may not benefit it, either.”

  • Shani Darden, esthetician

I’ve been so happy to see the re-emergence of hydration in skincare, but of course, it doesn’t take long for the pendulum to go full send in the opposite direction. A new trend, skin slugging, involves using occlusive products like Vaseline on the skin to encourage hydration. 

As someone who’s been in the skin care industry for decades, I’ve seen petroleum jelly used as a skin treatment before. I’ll explain what it is and how it works, and also fill you in on how you can level up hydration in the skin. 

What Is Petroleum Jelly?

First and foremost, it’s important to understand what Vaseline is and what it was created to do. Petroleum, also known as petrolatum, was discovered in the 1800s by oil workers. They used the thick, black wax that collected on oil refining machinery as a salve for cuts and wounds, and one worker, Robert Chesebrough, saw an opportunity to rebrand it as a healing ointment. 

Not much has changed in the chemical makeup of petroleum jelly since his discovery, and dermatologists have been recommending it for minor scrapes and abrasions ever since. 

Bottom line: Petroleum jelly (like Vaseline) is a byproduct of the oil industry that just so happens to have a few skin benefits. 

What It Does for the Skin

Petroleum jelly is an occlusive ingredient. This means that it sits on top of the skin barrier, forming a protective cover that can help prevent transdermal moisture loss — but it also prevents other things from penetrating the skin.

This can be really helpful for supporting wound healing because it helps keep the wound damp without penetrating the skin. It can also help soften dry skin (like cracked heels), remove eye makeup (even waterproof mascara), and soothe diaper rash. 

Because of these benefits, it’s commonly used to soothe chafing, soften cuticles, and even protect blisters.

Vaseline is arguably a multi-use product that you can probably find in any American household. Although you might use Vaseline in your routine for these purposes, using it on your face for hydration and skin benefits is completely different. 

What You Should Know About Vaseline for the Skin

As a byproduct of the petroleum industry, the clear, odorless wax you use on your skin has undergone some serious refining, but whether or not that refining is enough is questionable. Some studies have found unsafe levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) in petroleum jelly. These are considered toxins and may not be safe for your body or your skin. 

Additionally, it’s important to consider your skincare goals before you go slathering a layer of Vaseline on your face. If you’re looking for deeper hydration, occlusive ingredients aren’t the solution because their molecules are too large to penetrate your skin. This means it is non-comedogenic, but that also doesn’t make it a good solution for acne-prone skin. 

Plus, you may develop an allergic reaction to Vaseline if you have sensitive skin. This reaction, also called dermatitis, can result in red, itchy, and patchy spots that mimic other skin conditions. If you notice a skin reaction after the use of Vaseline, call a board-certified dermatologist immediately.

There’s also no proof that petroleum jelly or any mineral oil-based product can help with fine lines and wrinkles. So let’s review:

Pros of Using Petroleum Jelly:

  • It can be used for dry skin on heels, elbows, and other parts of the body
  • It helps prevent water loss by forming an occlusive barrier on top of the skin
  • It helps cover wounds like cuts and scrapes to encourage the healing process

Cons of Using Petroleum Jelly:

  • The product might be contaminated with toxins
  • It offers relatively little benefits for addressing skin concerns
  • It’s not a good solution for helping clear breakouts

If your goals involve true hydration and targeted anti-aging benefits, you need products with active ingredients that can penetrate the skin and give you better results. 

What Are the Alternatives?

Occlusives are important and definitely have a place at the beauty products table, but before you seal your skin, give it ingredients that can help support deep hydration, address uneven skin tone, even out rough skin texture, and help fade the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 

One product that can target all of these concerns is my Hydration Peptide Cream. Formulated with plumping peptides that penetrate your pores and Hydrosella™, a compound that can support moisture for 72 hours, this cream literally does it all. 

My formula can:

  • Address skin firmness and fullness
  • Help fade the appearance of dark spots and correct skin tone
  • Penetrate deeply for lasting moisture
  • Create an oil-free, skin barrier-supporting layer with natural squalane and ceramides

The best part? It’s oil-free, so you don’t have to worry about skin congestion and pimples. My Hydration Peptide Cream is one of my favorite skin care products to recommend for anyone looking to address multiple skin issues in one fell swoop. Adding it to your skincare routine can help you see more radiant, youthful skin in as little as two weeks. 

Petroleum: Not Your Best Skin Option

Using a petroleum product (like Vaseline or Aquaphor) might not hurt your skin, but unless you’re suffering from dryness, it may not benefit it, either. For better ways to address your skin concerns, consider a product that was engineered for the delicate skin on your face, not one that was discovered sticking to oil machinery. 

You’ve got options when it comes to what you use on your skin. Be informed and make the best decision for your own skin type. My products are designed to support your skin’s natural function so that you can enjoy the benefits without irritation. To learn more about skincare, check out my blog.


H07: Mr Chesebrough’s Wonder Jelly! A history of petrolatum and the skin | British Journal of Dermatology | Oxford Academic

Postoperative wound care after dermatologic procedures: a comparison of 2 commonly used petrolatum-based ointments | PMC

Petrolatum, Petroleum Jelly | Safe Cosmetics

Anti-Wrinkle Benefits of Peptides Complex Stimulating Skin Basement Membrane Proteins Expression | PMC


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