Did you grow up with a tub of Vaseline in your bathroom cabinet? And do you still have one now? Most people would say yes.
Petroleum jelly is an easy-to-find, inexpensive product with multiple skin care uses for the entire family, from soothing a baby’s diaper rash to moisturizing dry skin to healing cuts and scrapes. This surprisingly simple product can even slow the signs of aging and help treat chronic skin conditions like rosacea and psoriasis.
The skin care experts at The Derm encourage you to take a closer look at the power of petroleum jelly, so you can make it a regular part of your skin care routine.
What is petroleum jelly?
The history of petroleum jelly goes back to 1859, when a young chemist named Robert Chesebrough was traveling through Pennsylvania and discovered a group of oil workers using rod wax (an unrefined byproduct of their oil drilling) to heal burnt, wounded skin.
After refining and purifying the rod wax, Chesebrough created the transparent, spreadable substance that would eventually become Vaseline and patented it in 1865. (Here’s a fun fact: petroleum jelly rapidly replaced lard as the skin care product of choice.)
Today, millions of tubs of Vaseline are sold every year in more than 70 countries.
What is petroleum jelly made of?
When you first hear the word “petroleum,” things like crude oil, gasoline, or kerosene probably come to mind. Petroleum is the main ingredient in Vaseline, which has the same oily, slick consistency as traditional petroleum products. However, unlike the others, petroleum jelly is perfectly safe to use on your skin.
Petroleum jelly hasn’t changed much since 1865, using a mixture of mineral oils and waxes to retain moisture and protect skin.
What is petroleum jelly used for?
In addition to some of the more inventive uses for Vaseline (lubricating stuck objects, taking scuffs out of leather, etc.), there are lots of ways that you can use petroleum jelly to improve your skin:
• Heal cuts, scrapes, and other minor injuries – Petroleum jelly helps keep the wound moist, preventing it from drying out and scabbing (which takes more time to heal) and minimizing any scarring.
• Moisturize dry skin – Petroleum jelly can work wonders for dry, flaky skin. Apply it after you bathe or shower while your skin is still damp for best results.
• Soothe chapped lips – You can put petroleum jelly directly on chapped lips like you would any lip balm.
• Treat cracked heels – Soak your feet in warm water before bedtime, coat them in petroleum jelly, and then put on cotton socks. The petroleum jelly will work its magic as you sleep.
• Avoid chafing – Chafing is a painful rash that can result when skin rubs together or against clothing for too long. To avoid chafing, use petroleum jelly in any problem areas (groin, inner thighs, buttocks, etc.).
• Prevent skin stains – Apply petroleum jelly around your nail beds or along your hairline to prevent nail polish or hair coloring from staining your skin, then wipe it away when you’re done.
• Remove eye makeup – Eyelid skin is the thinnest skin on your body and can get irritated easily. Use a Q-tip or cotton pad with petroleum jelly, pressing gently as you go. (Even if you don’t wear eye makeup, a few dabs on your eyelids for extra moisture can’t hurt.)
Benefits of petroleum jelly
Aside from its versatility and low cost, the greatest benefit of petroleum jelly boils down to one word: moisture.
Studies show that petroleum jelly retains moisture more effectively than lanolin and other mineral oils. Petroleum jelly doesn’t add moisture to your skin – instead, it locks in existing moisture, forming a protective barrier that stops the moisture from escaping.
Keep in mind, this barrier can work against you in certain situations. Petroleum jelly can trigger outbreaks if you’re prone to acne, especially on your face. And never use petroleum jelly to treat sunburn or sun damage as it can seal in heat, aggravating your symptoms further.
Can petroleum jelly be used for chronic skin conditions?
• Rosacea – Rosacea is a common skin condition that causes red, inflamed skin. Petroleum jelly helps protect the affected skin, allowing it to heal faster.
• Psoriasis – Psoriasis outbreaks are more likely if skin is too dry. Applying petroleum jelly where psoriasis strikes most often is a good proactive measure.
Although aging is not technically a chronic skin condition (everyone ages!), reducing the signs of aging is a high priority for many. While petroleum jelly won’t treat wrinkles or shrink pores, keeping your skin moisturized is key to looking younger.
Research suggests that the microbial activity of petroleum jelly also increases the amount of peptides on the surface of your skin. Peptides are a popular ingredient in many anti-aging skin care products.
Schedule an appointment with The Derm to learn more
So, if a tub of Vaseline can do all this, why do you need a dermatologist? Because petroleum jelly is just the start of the wonderful things you can do for your skin.
The board-certified dermatologists at The Derm are here to answer your skin care questions and provide you with personalized treatment options that get results. Schedule an appointment with us today.