Vaseline was first patented by chemist Robert Chesebrough in 1872. He had visited oil fields and learned of a residue that was often cleaned out of the oil rig pumps called “rod wax”. The roughnecks would use it to treat cuts and burns.
Chesebrough used this petroleum product to make Vaseline, naming the product after a combination of the German words for water and olive oil. Nowadays Vaseline is a registered trademark of the British-Dutch company Unilever. It is often used as a moisturizer and lubricant.
Table of Contents
- Is Vaseline A Natural Product?
- What Is Vaseline Made Out Of?
- Vaseline Vs. Petroleum Jelly
- Why Vaseline Is A Good Moisturizer For Dry Skin?
- How Does Vaseline Work?
- Will Vaseline Help Dry Feet And Cracked Heels?
- How To Get Soft Feet With Vaseline?
- Is Vaseline Safe To Use Everyday?
- Does Vaseline Help Athlete’s Foot?
- Does Vaseline Darken Skin?
- What Are The Side Effects Of Vaseline?
- When Should You Not You Use Vaseline?
- How Long Is Vaseline Good For?
- Does Vaseline Expire?
- What Can You Use If You Don’t Have Vaseline?
- How Do You Make Homemade Vaseline?
Is Vaseline A Natural Product?
Define natural. Everything is chemicals when you get down to it. Vaseline is made of petroleum, which is found in nature. (Granted, you have to dig for it.) Some people prefer more “natural” products such as beeswax and coconut oil. They certainly have their merits. They’re a little less greasy and often infused with vitamins and herbal scents.
What Is Vaseline Made Out Of?
Vaseline is a solution of mineral oils and waxes that form a semisolid jelly-like substance. The active ingredient is white petroleum. Inactive ingredients include water, caprylic/capric triglyceride, stearic acid, glycerin, glycol stearate, and sodium hydroxypropyl starch phosphate.
Also, it includes other elements like PEG-100 stearate, glyceryl stearate, cetyl alcohol, tocopheryl acetate, acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, potassium hydroxide, ethylene brassylate, DMDM hydantoin, disodium EDTA, iodopropynyl butylcarbamate, and titanium dioxide. It is for external use only.
Vaseline Vs. Petroleum Jelly
Vaseline is a generic trademark, much like Band-Aids or Jell-O. All Vaseline is petroleum jelly, but not all petroleum jelly is Vaseline. Unilever claims that their product is superior to other brands as they use only the best quality ingredients plus a unique purification and filtration process. The consumer may find some differences in consistency or fragrance of different brands of petroleum jelly but all are fairly safe to use.
Why Vaseline Is A Good Moisturizer For Dry Skin?
Let’s look at what the active ingredient does. Petroleum makes a tight waterproof barrier when it is applied to the skin. This can aid the skin in retaining its moisture. It is commonly used as a home remedy for dry skin.
Even though Vaseline can be useful when used sparingly to treat dry skin. Keep in mind that it is rather greasy and tends to feel heavy on the skin. Because of this, it is not totally practical to use as every day, overall skin moisturizer.
How Does Vaseline Work?
Vaseline works by making a sealant barrier between cells in dry or chafed skin that locks in moisture and stimulates your skin’s natural recovery process. This helps it to heal from within. This occlusive function lets it protect dry or cracked skin, minor cuts, burns, and scrapes.
Will Vaseline Help Dry Feet And Cracked Heels?
A thick layer of Vaseline applied to the heel after a bath or shower is an effective overnight cosmetic treatment. This should be done when the foot is still soft but dry. After applying, put on a pair of cotton socks that will keep the jelly in place. The cotton will let the skin on your feet breathe. Vaseline offers a sealing barrier that locks in moisture to aid in rehydrating dry skin.
How To Get Soft Feet With Vaseline?
The above method is a good way to soften your feet while you sleep. It may take a while though. There are creams, oils, and lotions that also help. Remember to use mild soaps and to stay hydrated. Use warm water to wash them and pat them dry.
Is Vaseline Safe To Use Everyday?
Keep in mind that Vaseline does not hydrate the skin on its own. It only seals in moisture. It will seal in everything else so only use this on clean skin. To hydrate skin, you may need a lotion or cream rather than petroleum jelly. (Unilever makes some of these products under the Vaseline name.) Vaseline can lock in moisture to prevent drying and cracking and provided you have no skin sensitivities is safe for everyday use.
Does Vaseline Help Athlete’s Foot?
Some cases of athlete’s foot in the early stages are easily mistaken for just dry skin at first. The person slathers on the Vaseline or other petroleum jelly product only to find in less than an hour the skin of the feet is drier than ever.
There are better treatment options. People who live by the shore swear that wading or swimming in the ocean is the best cure. Those who live further inland may want to try tea tree oil. There are also antifungal creams you can get over the counter at the drugstore.
Does Vaseline Darken Skin?
It is a myth that Vaseline will help you tan faster. In fact, it is a very bad idea! Putting Vaseline on the skin will indeed attract UV rays, making them more intense. While this might sound like the perfect solution to quick tanning, it is really very dangerous.
It’s the equivalent of turning your oven up to 500 and expecting golden brown cookies in two minutes. Not happening! All slathering yourself with Vaseline before tanning is going to accomplish is getting burned more quickly. Even if you don’t get a burn, you are opening yourself to leathery skin, and wrinkles. Not to mention upping your chances of skin cancer.
What Are The Side Effects Of Vaseline?
Typically, there will be no side effects if Vaseline is used correctly. However, if you do experience burning, stinging, redness, or irritation you should discontinue the use of the product and tell your doctor or pharmacist immediately.
If you have signs of an infection or the skin becomes pale or “just not right” you may need to stop using the product and seek medical attention. Very few people are allergic to Vaseline ingredients, but if you have a rash, itching, swelling, dizziness, or shortness of breath you are likely having a bad reaction to something in the product.
When Should You Not You Use Vaseline?
It’s very rare that anyone is allergic to Vaseline. If you’re that one in a million, certainly don’t use it. There are concerns in the carcinogenic properties often found in petroleum. However, Vaseline is highly refined and triple-purified to ensure that it is not non-carcinogenic. Other brands may not be quite so thorough. Read the label.
While the product itself does not black pores, it can seal in dirt and oils that can. Do not use Vaseline on the skin that is not clean. It should not be used on acne or rosacea or near mucous membranes.
How Long Is Vaseline Good For?
Vaseline has quite a long shelf life if it is not put in a place where there is a lot of light. If it is left in a medicine cabinet, it should not change any of its physical properties for five to ten years or longer.
That said, give it a sniff test. If it looks off, smells unbearable, or has an infestation of creepy crawlies (flies or otherwise) throw it out. Always remember to handle Vaseline with clean hands and recap the jar after every use.
Does Vaseline Expire?
The hydrocarbons that makeup Vaseline may degrade over time, but this will be a very slow process. If Vaseline is kept at more or less steady room temperature and covered when not in use, it should last a good five or ten years. Like all pharmaceutical products, it will have an “expiration” or “best if used by” date stamped on it.
However, as Vaseline has no pharmacologic properties it will not become dangerous to use upon expiring so much as less effective. Do keep in mind this is a personal product like a toothbrush or razor and should not be used by anyone else.
What Can You Use If You Don’t Have Vaseline?
You can use unrefined coconut oil, an oil extracted from the kernels of the seeds of the coconut palm. (A coconut is technically a seed. It is one of the largest ones.) It delivers deep and rich moisture plus it is easily absorbed by your skin. You could also use cocoa butter, an extract of the roasted seeds of Theobroma cacao tree. It is rich, creamy, and melts right into the skin.
Shea butteries mostly made up of fatty acids like stearic and oleic acids. It’s very similar to the natural production of the sebaceous glands of the skin. Tallow is rendered from the fatty tissue of various ungulates.
It is also similar to a human’s skin’s natural sebum. Lanolin is an oil extracted from sheep’s wool. Pure lanolin is waxy and creates a protective barrier much like Vaseline and other petroleum jellies.
Olive oil is extracted from (would you believe it?) olives. It is rich in antioxidants, easily absorbed by the skin, and can slow aging of the skin. Jojoba oil, despite the name, is not an oil but a wax.
It is a liquid produced by the seed of the Simmondsia chinensis shrub of the Southwestern United States. It has some healing properties and helps the skin keep its moisture.
How Do You Make Homemade Vaseline?
You can make your own Vaseline using 1/4 cup of coconut oil, 1/8 cup olive oil, 1/8 cup castor oil, two tablespoons of beeswax, a tablespoon of lanolin, and a teaspoon vitamin E oil. Your mise en place will include a small saucepan, a whisk, and a four-ounce jar.
- Put a small saucepan over low to medium heat and pour in warm coconut oil and beeswax until completely melted.
- Remove the melted mixture from the heat and add olive oil, castor oil, lanolin, and vitamin E oil.
- Whisk all of the ingredients together until they are well combined.
- Keep whisking as the mixture cools. Whisk until the mixture is creamy but still pourable.
- Pour from the pan into a four-ounce glass jar or any other appropriate storage container.
It will keep at room temperature for about a year.
Today, the makers of Vaseline have taken interest in the health care crises among disadvantaged communities. They have donated over $606,000 worth of their products to Direct Relief’s partner network of 5,000 community health centers and free clinic sites all over the United States. It can be used on dry feet but also dozens of others of skin ailments.