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Also-called-like-this: Petroleum jelly, Vaseline
What-it-does: emollient


The famous Vaseline or Petroleum Jelly. Just like mineral oil, it is also a by-product of refining crude oil, aka petroleum, and it is also a mixture of hydrocarbons but with bigger (C18-90+) carbon chain length.

The unique thing about petrolatum is that it is the most effective occlusive agent known today. While the occlusivity of mineral oil is in the same league as the occlusivity of plant oils, petrolatum is in a league of its own. It sits on top of the skin and hinders so-called transepidermal water loss (TEWL) like nothing else.

This comes in handy healing cracked lips or severely dry skin patches, though overdoing it (i.e. reducing TEWL by more than 40%) is not good as it can create a nice moist place for fungi and bacteria to grow.  

As for petrolatum and safety, we can write here pretty much the exact same thing as we have written at mineral oil. There is no evidence whatsoever that cosmetic, USP grade petrolatum is carcinogenic. It also does not absorb into the skin but sits on top of it and that in itself greatly minimises health risks. It also has a long history of safe use, as it was first used as a skincare product more than 100 years ago, in 1872 to be precise. 

It is also non-comedogenic, though its pure form is very heavy and greasy so combination and oily skin types might want to avoid it anyway. 

Overall, it is the gold-standard occlusive agent known today and a tub of Vaseline comes in handy in any household to heal cracked lips or other severely dry skin patches.

Show me some proof

  • Petry, T., et al. "Review of data on the dermal penetration of mineral oils and waxes used in cosmetic applications." Toxicology Letters 280 (2017): 70-78.
  • Leslie Baumann, MD, Cosmetic Dermatology, 2nd edition, Occlusives - pages 273-274
  • Rawlings, A. V., and K. J. Lombard. "A review on the extensive skin benefits of mineral oil." International journal of cosmetic science 34.6 (2012): 511-518.

Products with Petrolatum

A'pieu Honey & Milk Lip Balm A+D Original Ointment Adcock Ingram Sbr Repair Aquaphor Lip Protectant + Sunscreen Atrimed Sorion Herbal Cream Babaria Protector Labial Aloe Vera Spf 30 Bag Balm Original Skin Moisturiser Bakson's Sunny Herbals Lip Balm Bebak Acı Badem Kremi Benefit Boi-ing Brightening Concealer Blue Magic Originals Hair & Scalp Conditioner Castor Oil Bobbi Brown Corrector Bobbi Brown Lip Balm Spf15 C.O. Bigelow Rose Salve Caresse Summer Love Spf15 Argan & Olive Oil Carmex Original Tube Lipbalm Carmex Strawberry Moisturising Lip Balm CeraVe Baby Healing Ointment (Canada) CeraVe Healing Ointment CeraVe Healing Ointment Cetraben Cream Chapstick Pink Lemonade (I Love Summer Collection) Chapstick Total Hydration Vitamin Enriched Lip Night Serum Chemist Confessions Balm Voyage Clarity Rx Healing Fine Post Procedure Ointment Clinique Moisture Surge Lip Clinique Moisture Surge™ Lip Hydro-Plump Treatment [CAN] Clinique Pep-Start Pout Restoring Night Mask Clinique Superbalm Lip Treatment [CAN] Cosmica Face Lip Balm Curél Moisture Lip Care Cream DAX Super Gro Hair And Scalp Conditioner Decubal Lipid Cream Decubal Lips And Dry Spot Balm Decubal Lips And Dry Spots Balm Dermal Therapy Lip Balm Dermal Therapy Lip Balm Spf 50 Dominique Cosmetics Skin Gloss In Golden Dew Dr v Lip X Balm Dr. Bell Pomada De La Campana Dr. PAWPAW Tinted Peach Pink Balm Dr. Paw Paw Original Balm E45 Dermatological Cream Elastoplast Wound Healing Ointment Elave Sensitive Intensive Cream Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Nighttime Miracle Moisturizer Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Original Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour® Cream Skin Protectant Fragrance Free Ella Baché Tomato Radiance Cream (Crème Tomate) Elta MD Uv Lip Balm Broad-Spectrum Spf 31