Since petroleum jelly is water-repellant—not water-soluble—it forms a barrier over your skin. It traps moisture below this barrier, creating that illusion of hydration. However, it also traps toxins, dirt, and other contaminants under that barrier—and keeps moisture out.
But first thing's first, according to Talakoub, "Petroleum jelly is one of the safest products for the skin. It is safe on all skin types and has very little allergenic or irritant potential. It holds moisture in the skin and can help heal wounds."
Unrefined petroleum jelly does contain some potentially dangerous contaminants. The EWG suggest that a group of carcinogens called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons could cause cancer and damage the reproductive organs. People interested in trying petroleum jelly should buy it from a reputable source.
While Vaseline helps seal moisture into the skin, some experts have suggested that it may also trap in oil and dirt. As such, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) warn that people who are prone to acne may experience breakouts after applying Vaseline to the face.
Dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD, adds, "Vaseline is non-comedogenic so it is safe for all skin types. However, it is most beneficial for wounds and dryness.
To save on skin care, dermatologists recommend using petroleum jelly to: Relieve dry skin, including your lips and eyelids. Dry skin can flake, itch, crack and even bleed. Since ointments are more effective and less irritating than lotions, consider applying petroleum jelly to dry skin, including your lips and eyelids.
Petroleum jelly is considered nontoxic. Recovery is likely. More serious lung problems may result with long-term exposure to inhaled petroleum jelly droplets.
Vaseline locks in any moisture on your face without adding other ingredients that might irritate your skin. A layer of Vaseline applied before you sleep can help restore your face's natural level of moisture and softness.
While, unfortunately, Vaseline won't do much to help erase deep-set wrinkles or brighten dark circles, Sakar said the product can provide some of the same hydrating effects as your go-to eye cream — especially when it's paired with a moisturizing cream. "Vaseline is something that's called an occlusive," she said.
As mentioned before, it can actually cause breakouts because it is greasy and could be trapping acne-causing agents on the skin. If a breakout occurs after trying Vaseline on the face, wash it off and stop using it for this reason.
Health and Environmental Hazards
A petroleum product, petrolatum can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Studies suggest that exposure to PAHs — including skin contact over extended periods of time — is associated with cancer.
Infections: Not allowing the skin to dry or cleaning the skin properly before applying petroleum jelly can cause fungal or bacterial infections. A contaminated jar can also spread bacteria if you insert jelly vaginally.
Ultimately, the only main difference between Vaseline and petroleum jelly is that Vaseline is made up of pure petroleum jelly which contain minerals and microcrystalline wax so it is smoother, while petroleum jelly is made up of a partial solid mix of hydrocarbons that comes from mines.
Petroleum jelly is well tolerated and works well for sensitive skin, which makes it an ideal treatment for eczema flare-ups. Unlike some products that can sting and cause discomfort, petroleum jelly has moisturizing and soothing properties that alleviate irritation, redness, and discomfort.
Vaseline is an occlusive moisturizer that can be used effectively on dry skin and eyelashes. It can't make eyelashes grow faster or longer, but it can moisturize them, making them look fuller and lusher.
Petroleum Jelly – Petroleum Jelly can lock the moisture under the skin, which is an excellent trait. It helps in reducing dark circles by nourishing the dead cells of the skin. Apply petroleum jelly over the dark circle and leave it overnight.
The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends using white petroleum jelly throughout the day and before bed to moisturize and sooth dry, cracked lips. Petroleum jelly seals in water longer than oils and waxes. It's also inexpensive and easy to find online and in drugstores.
It might protect your hair against breakage and dryness, but it won't encourage your hair to grow at a faster rate. Some people also warn against applying Vaseline to your scalp or face, claiming that it can create a breeding ground for bacteria or even block hair follicles.
According to the article “The Amazing History of Vaseline” by Daniel Ganninger, an author and researcher, the process of inventing petroleum jelly began in 1859. It began with Robert Chesebrough, a 22-year-old American chemist losing his job of extracting kerosene from the oil of sperm whales.
Unilever recommends that people use their Vaseline jars within three years of its production. Although you can continue to use Vaseline even after that, it will be less effective. There are a number of reasons why Vaseline and other petroleum jelly products come with an expiry date.
In addition to exfoliating the surface of the skin, you need to tackle the problem by moisturizing and helping to renew dry skin. Moisturizers and lotions containing Vaseline® Jelly are great at rejuvenating and replacing lost moisture at the source.
This 2019 study found that coconut oil was effective as an emollient (softening skin) but that it was not found to leave an effective barrier to seal in moisture (aka “occlusive” – for the “most occlusive” example, think of petroleum jelly leaving a thick layer on skin).
Beeswax is used in many skincare products because it provides protection against irritants while still allowing the skin to breathe. Research has shown that it acts as a better barrier than mineral products such as petroleum jelly.