What Is Petroleum Jelly?

Petroleum jelly, also known as petrolatum, is a white to yellowish-white semi-solid material that softens and protects the skin. It can be applied topically to treat chapped lips and cracked soles of feet. Experts recommend using petroleum jelly regularly for healthy nails and hair.

Petroleum jelly is a type of jelly that is used for many different purposes. For example, it can be used to soothe dry skin, as a barrier on the skin, or in some cases to protect from chemicals and other dangers. Petroleum jelly has been used for decades and is still being used today.

Vaseline (which is 100 percent petroleum) and Aquaphor are two significant types of petroleum jelly you may be acquainted with (which contains other moisturizing ingredients, too). Both are multi-purpose solutions that have been used for decades for a range of skincare and housekeeping uses.

Petroleum jelly has been around for almost 150 years.

This so-called “healing jelly” works by forming a barrier on the skin’s surface that helps lock in moisture and prevents it from evaporating. So it’s no surprise that petroleum jelly is used to heal cracked lips, diaper rash, chafing discomfort, and more.

What Is Petroleum Jelly?

Petroleum jelly (PJ) is a semi-solid skin protectant to heal dry, cracked skin and lips.

It’s created from mineral oil and wax, and its chemical makeup is a blend of hydrocarbons. It’s classified as an “occlusive” moisturizer since it forms a hydrophobic barrier over the skin.

PJ is a colorless or light yellow jelly-like material that is transparent and has no flavor or odor. (It isn’t intended to be eaten.)

There are various alternative names for petroleum jelly, including:

  • petrolatum
  • petrolatum (white)
  • paraffin (soft)
  • multi-hydrocarbon


What is the purpose of petroleum jelly? According to the American Academy of Dermatology, the majority of petroleum jelly applications are connected to its lubricating and coating qualities.

Petroleum is the primary active ingredient in this product, and it helps prevent dryness by preventing moisture from escaping the face and lips. While it doesn’t actively hydrate the skin, it does assist other skin elements in performing better by retaining moisture while it rests on top of it.

According to research, it seems to have the greatest positive benefits when applied to wet, clean skin.

The following are some of the advantages of petroleum jelly:

1. Hydrating Dry, Cracked Skin

The Food and Drug Administration has authorized PJ as an over-the-counter skin protectant in the United States. Cosmetics, lotions, ointments, chapsticks, and other skincare items include it.

When applied to dry hands, elbows, heels, and other body areas, PJ may help reduce skin dryness and enhance hydration. Add some before putting on socks or soft gloves, such as before night, if you’re using it to treat cracked heels or hands.

According to research, it may also be used to treat wounds. For example, it helps keep wounds moist and may reduce scarring when used to heal cleanse wounds (not open wounds).

PJ may be used to the skin over the top of heavy psoriasis lotions or creams to enhance absorption, reduce itching and inflammation, and provide moisture to patients who suffer from psoriasis symptoms.

Is petroleum jelly safe to apply on your face? Yes, it is non-comedogenic and should not clog pores, but it might increase shine and oiliness, so it may not be the ideal option for acne-prone or very oily skin.

It’s also crucial to clean your skin before applying it; otherwise, germs will be trapped, and air will be unable to reach your skin.

2. Assisting in the Prevention of Diaper Rash and Irritation

Is petroleum jelly safe to apply on delicate skin, such as that of newborns and children? Yes, in most cases.

It is deemed safe for babies older than three months in most circumstances.

It may be used to offer a layer of protection to the skin, protecting it from diaper rash, moisture, drool, and even chafing. It may also help relieve itchy skin caused by contact dermatitis in newborns and babies.

Apply a tiny quantity to a baby’s bottom before putting on a diaper or temperate regions like the inner thighs or armpits to prevent skin from rubbing together and chafing. In addition, buffering the skin against contact with other substances and reducing water loss will avoid friction and irritation.

3. How to Get Rid of Dry Lips

What are the benefits of petroleum jelly for your lips? You may apply PJ to your lips like chapstick or add it with an exfoliant to gently exfoliate dead skin cells while also hydrating your skin.

It may be even more effective when applied to the lips over another moisturizing substance, such as coconut oil since it aids in absorbing the oil and increases moisture.

4. Cuticle Protection

Apply PJ to your cuticles to keep them from drying out and splitting while painting your nails or to keep nail polish off of them while doing so. Similarly, you may use petroleum around your hairline and neck while coloring your hair at home to keep your skin from being discolored.

5. Makeup Removal

You may use PJ to remove makeup from your face, but be cautious not to get it in your eyes. You can also use PJ to help your cheekbones shine or keep your brows tamed and in place while applying makeup, as well as to prevent mascara from rubbing off under your eyes.

Other petroleum jelly applications that warrant more investigation include:

  • Hair lice treatment at home.
  • Hemorrhoid alleviation is a treatment for hemorrhoids.
  • Swimmer’s ear is avoided.
  • Blisters and windburn are avoided.
  • During ultrasounds, use a buffer.
  • Waxing of the mustache and hair grooming
  • Protector of the paws of pets.
  • Opening jars, cushioning leather, and preventing auto components from harm are just a few of the domestic applications.
  • While some people use it as a personal lubricant, it may cause irritation and even a minor infection, and it shouldn’t be used with condoms since it can weaken and rip the latex.

Side Effects, Risks, and Dangers

Why is it possible that petroleum jelly is harmful? Although petroleum jelly side effects are uncommon, they do exist.

Internally, such as inside the nose or via the mouth, this product should not be used. If you inhale too much-unrefined mineral oil, you risk developing pneumonia or respiratory problems.

Using minor quantities inside the eyelids to increase moisture is typically safe, but proceed with care. It’s also not meant to be used to lighten the skin.

Fortunately, the chances of developing an adverse response to petroleum jelly are limited. However, if you have irritation, allergy, or illness, cease taking it immediately.

To avoid infection, always apply it on clean, exterior wounds.

Is petroleum jelly harmful to your health?

PJ is a byproduct of petroleum oil refining; there is significant worry over whether PJ/vaseline is harmful.

According to the FDA and other authorities, these items are safe to use for skincare, based on current evidence that they are neither dangerous nor poisonous. However, a 2015 study of cosmetics containing mineral oils discovered that some of them may be carcinogenic. Thus experts from this study advise against applying PJ/Vaseline directly on the lips.

Purchasing Vaseline rather than a generic brand reduces the likelihood of any adverse consequences. Vaseline is highly refined, triple-purified, and non-carcinogenic due to thoroughly removing any possibly hazardous chemicals during manufacture.

Vaseline vs. Petroleum Jelly

Vaseline is made entirely of petroleum jelly. Although there is only one brand name for PJ and the original PJ product from the 1800s, several generic PJ products are accessible in retailers.

In contrast, Aquaphor includes PJ as well as mineral oil, glycerin, and other substances. Thus, PJ, Vaseline, and Aquaphor may all be used to enhance moisture and function as barriers on the lips and face.

Is it possible to create petroleum jelly (or Vaseline) at home?

It’s not something you’ll be able to manufacture at home since it’s made via a complicated chemical process. However, alternatives, such as coconut oil, cocoa butter, olive oil, or even beeswax, may be made at home and used in many same ways.

Try melting 1 ounce (28 g) of beeswax and 12 cups (118 ml) of olive or coconut oil in a skillet and swirling them together for a similar result to PJ.


  • What is petroleum jelly, and what does it do? It’s a semi-solid skin protectant used topically to heal dry, cracked skin and lips.
  • Petroleum jelly may be used to cure and prevent dry skin, cracked heels, diaper rash, psoriasis, blisters, lice, hemorrhoids, and other conditions.
  • Is petroleum jelly a safe substance to use? As long as you’re not allergic to it, yes. It’s safe for delicate skin and babies older than three months.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is petroleum jelly sour for you?

A: Petroleum jelly has many dangers to human health, including the risk of respiratory problems.

Is petroleum jelly harmful to the skin?

A: Petroleum jelly is not harmful to the skin.

What are the health benefits of petroleum jelly?

A: Petroleum jelly is a type of wax that has been used for centuries as an effective moisturizer. It acts to seal in moisture and protect the skin from harsh dry environments by holding water molecules closer together, making them less likely to evaporate into the air. Petrolatum also contains zinc oxide, which can help reduce acne breakouts and inflammation associated with rosacea.

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