Why I Don’t Use Petroleum Jelly (and What I Use Instead)

Why I dont use petroleum jelly and what i use instead

Petroleum Jelly, the main ingredient in Vaseline®, is often used in beauty products and even on its own to moisturize skin. It’s cheap. It is unscented. It seems to work well for softening skin… what could be the problem?

What is Petroleum Jelly?

Petroleum jelly is a byproduct of the oil refining process. This means it is not sustainable or eco-friendly, and it also explains some of the potential problems with using it.

Petroleum jelly was originally found in the bottom of oil rigs and is further refined for use in the beauty industry. According to packaging and safety info, all of the harmful components are removed before use in beauty or personal care products, but some sources argue that it still contains some harmful components (like hydrocarbons).

How Does Petroleum Jelly Work on Skin?

Petroleum jelly is used in everything from lotions to baby products for its ability to create a protective barrier on the skin and hold in moisture. On labels, it may also appear as Petrolatum, Mineral oil, Liquid paraffin, or Paraffin oil.

While the ability to hold in moisture may seem like a good thing, it can have its downsides as well. Since petroleum jelly is both waterproof and not water soluble, it creates a waterproof barrier on the skin. At first glance, this may sound good, but it also means that it blocks pores and can lock in residue and bacteria. This is also the reason petroleum jelly should not be used on a burn or sunburn, as it locks in heat and can block the body’s ability to heal.

Also, while it certainly gives the appearance of hydrated and moisturized skin, this may be an illusion as there is nothing in petroleum jelly that is actually nourishing the skin. If you are looking for something to help hold in moisture and nourish the skin, there are some natural products that accomplish both (see the end of this post for a list).

Problems with Petroleum Jelly

Besides its pore-blocking potential, petroleum jelly carries some potentially bigger problems as well.

Harmful Hydrocarbons

Petroleum jelly can’t be metabolized by the skin and just sits as a barrier until it wears off. This means that the body isn’t able to gain any benefit from petroleum jelly (like it can from nutrient rich substances like shea butter or cocoa butter), and there is concern that some of the components (like hydrocarbons) may be stored in fat tissue within the body.

In fact, a 2011 study found that:

There is strong evidence that mineral oil hydrocarbons are the greatest contaminant of the human body, amounting to approximately 1 g per person. Possible routes of contamination include air inhalation, food intake, and dermal absorption.

This study was interesting because it evaluated both the long term storage potential of these hydrocarbons in the body, and also a woman’s ability to pass them on to her child through breastfeeding. It looked at fat tissue samples obtained from women during a c-section and also a follow up of breast milk samples and found a strong correlation between the amounts in fat tissue and the amounts passed on in breastmilk.

This suggests the potential for long-term accumulation of these hydrocarbons in the body. The study found no link between nutritional habits and hydrocarbon levels in the body but did find a strong potential link between cosmetic and beauty product use and contamination, suggesting that beauty products may be a major source of hydrocarbon exposure.

As moms, this study is especially interesting, since it shows the potential for passing on these contaminants to our children during breastfeeding. We also know that we can’t metabolize these substances, so they can build up in the body and are difficult to remove.

Collagen Breakdown

Because of the barrier that mineral oil/petroleum jelly creates on the skin, there is also some concern about its potential to cause collagen breakdown (which is the opposite of what most women want!).

Essentially, the concern is that when petroleum jelly coats the skin it blocks the skin’s natural ability to breathe and absorb nutrients. This can slow the cell renewal process and cause the skin to pull the necessary moisture and nutrients from within, leading to collagen breakdown over time (aka wrinkles!).

Estrogen Dominance

A growing problem in today’s world, estrogen dominance is when the body has high levels of estrogen and proportionately low levels of progesterone to balance it. It is linked to infertility, menstrual problems, accelerated aging, allergies and autoimmune problems as well as nutrient deficiencies, sleep problems and even some types of cancers.

Many products (including petroleum jelly) contain chemicals called xenoestrogens which may increase estrogen problems in the body. Studies have shown that these chemicals may act on hormone receptors in the body and lead to estrogen dominance.

More Serious Problems

There is the potential that petroleum based products contain other harmful chemicals like 1,4 dioxane, a known carcinogen found in almost a quarter of all beauty products tested. There is also potential that it may contribute to other types of cancer because of its estrogenic properties mentioned earlier.

Additionally, as drug commercials like to warn us “other more serious complications may occur.” While more serious problems are rare, they can happen and the statistics don’t matter if you are the 1% that ends up with the problem (though to put it in perspective, it is probably about the chance that you actually have liver cancer due to the skin rash you searched for on WebMD).

One of these serious problems is called lipid pneumonia. Though rare, this occurs when small amounts of the petroleum jelly are inhaled and build up in the lungs (as mentioned earlier, the body can’t metabolize or break down petroleum jelly). This creates a potentially serious inflammation in the lungs.

Alternatives To Petroleum Products for the Skin

Thankfully, there are many great alternatives to petroleum jelly and mineral oil that help increase moisture on the skin and provide nourishment as well. The best part? Most of them can be used alone and you don’t even have to make anything!

If you are looking for a simple alternative to petroleum jelly or Vaseline®, try:

  • Shea ButterA natural skin superfood that is high in Vitamins A, E and F. It also contains beneficial fatty acids that nourish skin and it may reduce skin inflammation and increase collagen production. It is excellent on its own or in homemade beauty products. (This is the one I like).
  • Cocoa Butter-A great source of antioxidants and beneficial fatty acids, cocoa butter is another great product for skin. There is even some evidence that it may reduce the signs of aging. (This is the brand I’ve used)
  • Beeswax– A great substitute for the waterproof and protective properties of petroleum jelly without the hydrocarbons. Though not usually used alone, beeswax can be blended into homemade beauty products for its skin-protective ability and is especially good in lip balms and body creams.
  • Coconut OilCoconut oil has so many benefits, internal and external, and it can be great for the skin. It does cause breakouts in some people, so I always suggest testing on a small area of skin first, but it is a source of skin-nourishing fatty acids, lauric acid and anti-inflammatory compounds.
  • Almond Oil– A liquid oil that is fragrance free and nourishing to skin.
  • Jojoba Oil-A perfect choice for skin care because it naturally resembles sebum, the oily substance naturally produced by the body to nourish and protect skin. I like to mix Jojoba Oil with shea butter for a simple natural lotion.

Petroleum Jelly Free Skin Recipes

If you’re feeling crafty, there are a lot of great skin-nourishing recipes that you can make using the simple ingredients above:

The Bottom Line

I’ve never been a fan of petroleum jelly (or Vaseline®) because every time I’ve tried it, my naturally oily skin went crazy and I had breakouts for at least a week. Since there are many potential problems with using it and a variety of great natural alternatives, I’m glad it is a product I never really started using.

Do you use petroleum jelly? Have you switched to these alternatives instead?

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Reader Comments

  1. Can you share information about candles also made from toxic oils ….looking for an alternative….I would love something yummy smelling to use over the holidays…any suggestions or companies you like?

    • Hi there,

      I am having my first baby in May and would really like to make my own diaper cream, the recipe that you have on your website. Coconut does cause breakout on my skin so I stopped using it and instead use sweet almond oil on my face. I was wondering if coconut oil might cause breakout on baby’s skin? What do you think? As I never made any creams myself nor I used it on the baby I do not know what to expect.
      Thank you so much .
      Dilara

  2. My husband tried the un-petroleum multi-purpose jelly by Alba that is sold at Whole Foods. He hasn’t used it on his face, but so far so good.

  3. I primarily use lanolin as an alternative to petroleum jelly, in addition to shea butter and coconut oil 🙂

    • I also use lanolin for anything I used to use petroleum jelly for. I find that lanolin is very good as lip balm, skin protector, even as hair gel for my boys. I use it on my feet to help the skin soft. I use it on my hands when I paint (I am an artist by trade). Lanolin is awesome, and is great right out of the can, so I don’t have to mix it with anything to use it.

    • same, I have eczema and if I don’t use Vaseline on my extremely dry face, it will crack and bleed… coconut oil isn’t very effective because it dries out very quickly and it feels uncomfortable on my face, as if its just sitting on top like a slippery layer, I don’t want to keep using Vaseline any advice??

      • Personally I don’t think Petroleum or Mineral Oil is as bad as it’s made out to be. It is an inert ingredient, & for folks who have issues like eczema, severely dry skin, sensitive skin etc. it can be incredibly helpful.

        Like you I’ve tried all of the natural alternatives (beeswax, coconut oil, shea butter, oils) & Petroleum is unsurpassed in terms of being able to hold the moisture in the skin. Precisely because it isn’t as “breathable” as the other things, & therefore does not allow as much transepidermal water loss.

        That said, it is true that it does not add moisture back into the skin, as opposed to trap it in, but it can be invaluable to calm inflammation, & protect & restore the epidermal barrier.

        I do prefer natural things, however, so I would say beeswax is probably the most effective alternative at sealing in moisture. And unlike Petroleum, it has moisturizing properties as well. I use Waxelene, or Badger Unscented Beauty Balm which absorbs much better. You can always just blot off the excess & it will still leave a thin layer on your skin which is more matte.

        Then on days when natural things just aren’t enough, I’ll use my Mineral Oil based skin care (Albolene, Avene etc.) until the barrier normalizes.

        I hope this helps!
        Kris

      • I make a lot of creams and do a lot of experimenting. I have been using strictly cold pressed oils on my face for over 20 years. I started with extra virgin olive oil (I live part time in Italy) then graduated to different blends of “lighter” more absorbent oils for my face. I have read that the molecules of some oils are smaller and absorb better. I have looked on the labels of high quality oil products from Weleda and Hauschka, they often use grapeseed oil and it appears to be the lightest (and on my skin feels like it). I often use a blend of this, almond, rosehip and carrot seed for my face, but I would start with just plain grapeseed for use on infants. I would add a drop or two, no more, of rose oil in 100ml, if you want a pleasant and light scent of something that should not cause a reaction.
        I would think that lanolin is a fine substitute for “heavier” uses where Vaseline would be used, I blend it with anything from cocoa butter to coconut oil or shea butter to lighten it just a bit. Put the jar in a water bath that has just boiled, keep it on low heat or turn it off and back on until the lanolin melts, mix in the other ingredients (which are generally softer and easy to mix) continue to blend it in the water bath if needed. I have made a heavy cream for my husbands difficult (aging)thin skin, aways flaking, always dry; I use a combination of lanolin, shea and cocoa butter and coconut oils. I always dampen my skin before I apply oil thus locking in the moisture and it makes the oils or heavy cream much nicer to use, leaves a nicer feeling. Use the creams/oils sparingly until you see just how much does the trick. I live in an extremely dry climate that is harsh on my skin, I apply my oil 2-3 times a day as needed.
        CONGRATULATIONS KATIE ON YOUR NEW BABY Thank you for sharing everything about the birthing process, very informative; young women need to know the reality of birthing so they can objectively deal with it. I come from a generation that was a bit in the dark, just beginning to open up about such things. “Our Bodies Ourselves” came out when I was about 18! The first “real” book dealing with women’s health issues!

      • Yosha, you probably can find the right balance for your skin by using lighter oils, but ALWAYS put some moisture on your skin before applying the oils. I really think Vaseline is too heavy. I would try combining shea butter, a bit of lanolin, a bit of grapeseed oil, then progress to adding the other ingredients I mentioned in my other posting. Hydrating first with something nice, like Cucumber Witch Hazel in a spray bottle, or a nice spritzer with light fragrance makes putting the oil on such a better experience, I love the feel of the combined moisture and oil. If you don’t feel you have applied enough, just keep reapplying until your skin feels “right”.
        I recently purchased an Aloe spray on Amazon, I mix this now with the Witch Hazel.

  4. I wish I had never used petroleum jelly! I started using a petroleum-based lip balm habitually when I was 18. I used it for 30 years straight from the jar several times a day (and night) but for the last 2 years I’ve switched to using coconut oil and sometimes I mix in Shea butter or aloe vera. I’ve advised my teenage nieces not to use anything that contains petroleum jelly, but since it’s on the market, they think it’s reasonably safe…not!

    • I now right? When i used to use it it made my skin feel odd but then after doing some research I stopped using it

    • Why? Do mind sharing why you regret using it for 30 years? I’m trying to figure out what’s right for me. I’ve been trying to get more into natural living on one hand, and on the other hand my mother used petroleum jelly and mineral oil for 40 years daily on her face and body. She’s 70 now and her skin looks great. I know she is only 1 data point, but to me she is a significant one. I’m in my 30s now and having a hard time deciding what my skin regimen should be.

  5. Are these hazards included in mineral oil? I heard years ago to drop a few drops of mineral oil in your ears every so often as an alternative to using Q-tips.
    Thanks for all your great information!

    • It’s a derivative product, so yes, the same potential is there.

  6. I am so surprised Lanolin isn’t on this list. It is my very favorite for every skin issue. 6 kids, 14 years of mommying, and countless salves, it’s the best. From food allergy rashes to post-birth healing perineums, to bike wipe-outs. Especially in place of vaseline.
    Glad for this list though, love to hear about other uses for these items that I’m beginning to have on hand most of the time now! Thanks Katie!

    • I was going to say the same thing about lanolin! I was wondering if Katie left it off because she just doesn’t have personal experience using it, or if there’s something bad about lanolin that I don’t know. I use the most unrefined lanolin I could find (still smells like sheep, mmmm!) but obviously it’s still refined to a large extent. But it’s the ONLY thing I’ve found that actually undoes the damage I do to my hands each day during the wintertime and keeps my hands from cracking and bleeding. (The combination of winter weather, house cleaning, constantly washing kids’ hands, and washing dishes is brutal on hands.) But if I put the lanolin on my hands each night and wear gloves to bed, they will be completely restored by the next morning. No other moisturizing product can do that for me. It also is THE BEST for keeping a nose from getting red and painful during a cold when you have to keep blowing it every few minutes.

      I’m glad for the information in this article, Katie, because I was just telling my family 15 minutes ago that petroleum jelly isn’t really healthy, but I couldn’t name the exact reasons why. Now I’m armed with information! 🙂

      • If you want a natural cream for super dry hands try Banish My Callus. Works great on feet overnight with socks, so I would think it would do the same with hands and gloves.

      • May be that some people cannot use lanolin as it can produce an allergic reaction, being an animal product. I find putting olive oil on my hands at night and then gloves does the same as the lanolin does for you. My favorite product is still one that I have been making (and selling) for 20 years, it is derived from an ancient bee keeper’s salve recipe from Italy (where I live) The bee’s wax and olive oil solid hand care cake can be purchased online – or through me, but I don’t want to be using this site to advertise, so I would have to ask Katy if I can supply my own address for direct purchase (but I don’t see a place on the site for direct contact) . There is nothing in this but bee’s wax and olive oil with a drop of camphor, you can use it even while cooking.

  7. Hi Katie,

    Thanks for your post. I have to say I tried coconut oil but I’m not sure the oil gets fully absorbed into the skin. When I used it, I still had a slight whitish sheen to my skin (I have an olive complexion), especially around areas like my elbows. I have a feeling this would be an issue with any kind of oil?

    Thanks.
    Sharan

    • I have the same problem. I make my lotion out of coconut oil, shea butter, olive oil, almond butter and essential oils, and I can’t get the mixture right to make it more absorbent. If I use too much, it feels like it is sitting on my skin (for hours) – thus getting on my clothes – and if I use too little, I have to reapply. I reapply without hesitation, but would love to find the right mixture so it absorbs into the skin like store-bought lotions do.

      • I have been using oils and making my own concoctions for over 20 years. The trick to using oils is to apply to wet skin and not use too much. I either use it before I am completely dried off after bathing, or, I spritz or simply wet my skin then apply the oil. Also, you are probably using too much, being possibly used to the quantity of lotion you would use – oils require a lot less, I literally use a few drops at a time, to about a quarter teaspoon. It still takes just a little longer to absorb than commercial lotions but with water and using less, oils absorb well. I have not yet experimented with coconut oil alone, mostly I have used EV olive, almond, grape seed, sesame and walnut. Any mixture of oils are fine for your body, I prefer the grape seed as a base for my face oil, it seems to absorb more quickly and has a lighter feel. Now that coconut is readily available I will start experimenting with that although I live in central Italy where olive oil is local, of high quality,not expensive and fresh- in fact the new oil is just out- so I tend to generally use olive oil.

        • Thanks for your input, Christy! I never thought of applying to wet skin, I’ll give it a try!

          • It does make a lot of difference to how it feels going in – and going on, it is much more pleasant, you don’t get that oily feeling. Find a nice spritzer to use or make one yourself. I love Witch Hazel with Cucumber, (can’t think of the brand of witch hazel right now, but not hard to find) it is mild, refreshing and soothing.

      • Do you mean almond oil or almond butter? Thanks.

        • almond oil. I use all cold pressed oils, NOW brand appears to be good and the least expensive or Aura Cacia available on Amazon.

      • Cate, you might like emu oil, as it absorbs through all the layers of the skin, and is full of essential fatty acids that are great for the skin. I use Emu Bliss emu oil as my night time moisturizer and love the way my skin feels in the morning. Also great for homemade skin care formulas in place of or in addition to the carrier oil.

  8. Wow! And my dermatologist is always telling me to use Aquaphor. It’s going in the trash.

    • My sister-in-law is always telling me how wonderful Aquaphor is, but I never tried it because of the petroleum jelly. She’s old school and won’t accept the fact that petroleum jelly shouldn’t be used on your skin. She has a Down syndrome child and gets Aquaphor free, so she doesn’t want to listen to anything contradictory. Oh well, her choice, not mine! 🙂

      • I really don’t understand what a child with down syndrome has to do with petroleum jelly

  9. Healthy alternative: Devil’s club salve. Amazing in the winter for chapped hands! I get mine from Sitka, AK (believe it’s Winter song co.)

  10. I am a massage therapist and specialise in Pregnancy massage. A lot of my clients swear by Bio Oil for their stretch marks, but as its mainly mineral oil I try to get them to use good old coconut butter or oil instead.

    I will definitely be trying some of your recipes and sharing this post to show the evidence of how bad hydrocarbons found in mineral oil is – thank you for highlighting it.

  11. I have used “other” moisturizers for 20 years or more. I started with EV olive oil. I live part of the time in Italy and now most of the time between Italy and Greece and I needed something more effective than commercial lotions, I live on a boat a good part of the year in the summer heat and sun of the Med.
    I slowly found out more and experimented with different oils and gravitated to lighter oils for my face, like grapeseed, I add a couple drops of rose essence and YangYang, my favorite combination.
    Be careful of where you get your jojoba, I was buying it not knowing much about it, it is costly, so I usually just use other oils now.
    For my body oil, I made up a spray container of the olive oil that I mix with water (1/4 oil, 3/4 water, add a few drops of lavender or similar) shake and spray – this continues to be my body moisturizer. For my face, I spritz, then I spread just a few drops of oil over my face and neck and I “moisturize” and my skin. At 60, and exposed long hours to bright light if not direct sun, is in great shape, better than many people at 40. Oils nourish your skin. I then run my hands through my moist hair to “moisturize” my hair, it is all it needs. I also now only use baking soda “shampoo” with fantastic results.
    For 20 years I have produced a body “butter” made from EV olive oil and bees wax, it is sold in San Francisco. This is an “intensive care” solid cream, I started selling this before any other similar product showed up on the scene, like Burt’s Bees. (I am a beekeeper so I knew of the use of bee’s wax in ancient salves, I developed my recipe from this). I use petroleum jelly….only on mechanical parts in my boat!! The idea that oil leaves your skin oily is completely off base; good oil absorbs quite quickly and you just don’t use too much of it. I don’t get any blemishes from it either, and have been prone to blemishes up to a few years ago, must be menopause that has changed that!
    Thank you as always for your great advice, I read just about every message from you that comes to my box, you choose your topics so very well. ~Christy

  12. It’s scary to think of all the petroleum products in name brand baby care. Not to mention the phthalates and parabens found in the top selling baby products. 13 million dollars are spend on baby lotion each year in America. Why not make our own or just go with a single oil, such as almond or coconut oil to rub on our babies instead?
    Great article!

  13. Interesting read. I generally don’t use petroleum jelly but I caught mineral oil as one of the derivatives of petroleum. I do use mineral oil on my cutting board to seal the wood and create a moisture barrier to prevent cross contamination. I didn’t know that mineral oil came from petroleum, so if you have any suggestions of what to use in its place, I would love to hear it. TIA

  14. The reason I have used petroleum jelly is because there is no smell. Smells such as shea butter and coconut oil give me headaches. I would love an alternative to petroleum jelly.

    • Try lanolin. Very moisturizing. It has almost no smell. Its natural odor smells faintly of sheep, almost undetectable, but if you get refined lanolin, it has no odor.

  15. I am so late to the knowledge of the harm of these chemicals. But I have been making body butters from your site, next up is lotion bars. As a health care professional I really appreciate the citation of the studies and the rigorous research you do. Thanks!

  16. I love this post because it truly made a difference for my daughter when I switched her to a vegan-certified brand of health & wellness products! (Being respectful – contact me if you want that source)

    My daughter showed signs of eczema since birth. She was a WALKING SCAB! The 1st 3 years of her life, she ensured pain and 4 hospitalizations due to her weakening immune system. She fought MRSA & staph off and on during these three years. Due to his history, my husband kept stating that the only thing that would help her and relieve her of the eczema was to put petroleum jelly on it. It just got worse until I started researching this exact information!

    I started her on the health and wellness products to clean out her gut and started using their vegan certified & gluten free skincare. After just one month, she was clear! She’s 7 now & still enjoys her vegan shake for breakfast daily & we eat clean MOST of the time.

    Thanks for sharing this info with others because I’m truly a believer!

    • Hi! My daughter is 5 and also had eczema and food allergies, one anaphylactic… Our allergist told me to put Vaseline on her every day but I had heard about this before so haven’t been doing it so much… We use the Shea moisture ultra sensitive baby cream that is gluten free and fragrance free, but I want to put a good oil too or butter (cocoa or shea) ..did you do well with either of those or a mix?

      Also, I’m looking into a alkaline diet for my daughter to help her skin too, have you done one of those?

      Am interested in your story…

      Much love,
      Kristin

      • The Eczema Cure by Emily Bartlett, L.Ac. is an amazing E-book. Gluten free and fixing leaky gut are vital! I got my copy from the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle but it can be found online also. There are probiotics that will help heal the gut also. I had eczema for over four decades and now it is gone, no other way to describe it.

        • Hi Terza, I have recently started the GAPS diet for leaky gut to hopefully improve my eczema (having a very bad flare for the past few months) and would love to hear more about your experience. My skin is getting worse and I’ve been on the GAPS intro diet for 8 days feeling hopeless right now. Any advice?

          • I don’t have personal experience with GAPS or this website, but I’ve heard from lots of people like Katie about SCD Lifestyle run founded be Steve Wright and Jordan Reasoner. It’s supposed to be better than GAPS and they have a whole community over there that is awesome. Hope you can find some encouragement.

  17. my sons doctor -homeopathic- recommended first aid calendula ointment for the baby instead of petroleum. I get it at whole foods or amazon. It worked great so far he is 16 months old now. I also used it myself for cuts scrapes burns so far so good and it is natural. I also love using aleo vera for the skin it is like magic even on jellyfish burns.

  18. I have used Baby Oil to remove mascara every night for years. Any suggestions to replace that (cause no matter how green I get I’m just not really going to give up my mascara or go crazy expensive on the natural mascara- just being real with ya!)?

    • Olive oil works really well (it will even remove waterproof mascara)!

    • I use castor oil to remove my eye makeup. It works better than any other oil that I’ve tried and has the added benefit of making your lashes grow long and lush! I buy it and put it in a dropper bottle for ease of use.

  19. Hi, doesn’t anyone know if sesame oil safe?

  20. Yes, I enjoy lanolin, too! Great salve and when I’m in the barn it soothes cows’ teats as well as my chapped lips and hands! 😉

  21. Wonderful! Once I started finding out about petroleum jelly very early this year I quickly got rid on our chapsticks and lotions and that’s how I googled you…or I mean alternatives…and now…I’ve been making our own lotion and chaptstick recipes since. I’ve probably made approx 120 chapsticks for our family (of 8) and for friends a family…it’s a true hit! (50 were for a church event). THANK YOU FOR YOUR CONTINUAL RESEARCH AND SHARING YOUR KNOWLEDGE TO OTHERS…AWARENESS IS CRUCIAL

    • would you share your chapstick recipe with us? Thanks!

  22. I have dry skin that’s connected to a condition, and I have tried all the alternate products you list except almond oil and a number of others from time to time, but I find petroleum jelly is the one thing that really soothes when I apply it. Baar (has a catalog) sells a more refined petroleum jelly. It seems the negative consequences that may be associated with petroleum jelly may affect women more who have used cosmetics every day that contain it, and I cannot help but wonder if there isn’t an eco bias in the effort to get away from anything oil based. It seems to me even petroleum jelly doesn’t last that long to have a very deleterious pore blocking effect. I think women are greatly more conscious of their skin’s appearance than men, and so use these products a lot more.

    • I would guess that the reason PJ works the way it does for you is because it cut’s off the air and makes a real barrier. Have you tried any of these oils (or a combo) with beeswax? I think the more beeswax the sturdier (if that’s the best word) the salve and the longer it takes to absorb which in this case is what your looking for. I have found olive oil for me doesn’t absorb as quickly as others either.

      • Thanks for your concern; yes I’ve used Honey Guy Waterblocker Skin Cream which is a beeswax product; it has an interesting texture, but I don’t feel it penetrates as PJ does. However, I’ve tried and used all sorts of skin care products for my dry skin purchased everywhere from Smallflower.com to Swansonsvitamins.com. People are touting products with magnesium these days because they say we don’t get enough magnesium, but it stings a bit when mixed in with a cream and I don’t like that. Here’s one for you Zum Body shea butter & meadowfoam seed oil body lotion; I like the shea butter products but they’re generally more expensive than PJ. I can’t quite get beyond thinking there is an overly pro-environment view of PJ; even the Mama whose site this is only used the word “may” when saying PJ “may” have some negative effects. Cheers.

    • I use petolium jelly every night on my face and neck it is thes best

  23. Hi Katie,

    I was just looking over your simple lotion recipe which calls for beeswax. Do you think emusifying wax could be used in place of the beeswax if all other ingredients are kept the same? I get chapped lips a lot and a few years ago bought some UNpetroleum jelly by Alba. I still have it– it is not bad , but don;t know if it as any other no no ingredients in it. But I am just getting interested now into making my own beauty and care products. Thank you for sharing your recipes. Blessings to you. Olga

    • I haven’t tried, but I think it would work. Typically, emulsifying wax is great for blending liquids and oils, but I would think it should work with all oils.

      • Wouldn’t emulsifying wax be a petroleum product as well?
        I use bees wax, it is not difficult to use, just bring it to melting temperature in a double boiler, warm you oils to combine with in separately (double boiler or crock pot is probably best for this) and as soon as the wax melts, combine the two, keep the temperature as low as possible, bee’s wax once it over heats takes on a burnt smell whereas if it is kept at just melting temperature it will keep the lovely honey smell. Once you have combined the wax with any natural oil, the next time you need to use it to make a beauty product it will melt more quickly, I keep it in the fridge and it keeps for months.

  24. Thanks for this article. Pawpaw ointment is popular here, especially as a lip balm. It’s seen as safe because it has natural fruit in it, but I’ve heard it has a petroleum base. Is that true?

  25. What do u recommend for when your nose gets so sore from blowing it all the time? That is typically when I would use Petroleum Jelly on the inside and outside of my nose. I tried coconut oil but it did not heal or sother it as well.Thank yoi!

    • Shea butter works amazingly well for that 🙂

    • You might like the Emu Bliss On the Go stick as it’s used by people who get sores around their nostrils from their CPAP machines. It’s all natural and contains soothing almond oil, sunflower oil and other botanicals.

      • Thank you so much for the suggestion for a sore nose. I am definitely going to try themailing ?

  26. Thank you for this…just pitched my Vaseline lip container after reading this. I have used it for years and wondered why my lips are always dry and appear to be aging. The collagen reduction would explain it! I will be using your suggested alternatives! Awesome blog!

    • Depending on how much you use, your lips might peel and crack when you stop using Vaseline, as it inhibits the regular shedding cycle of the skin. I’ve read that Burt’s Bees is not a healthy alternative, so now I rely on making my own with coconut oil and Shea butter. Lanolin is great, too, if you can tolerate it. The main thing is not to lick your lips but use a moistened napkin or paper towel when necessary and also you can exfoliate your peeling or chapped lips with a body scrub (coconut oil & sugar) a few times a week to remove the dead skin. I think if your lips are healthy, you shouldn’t have to apply lip balm constantly but dry lips seem worse in the winter and so I use more coconut oil and my homemade lip balm then!

  27. My husband and I are expecting a baby in Feb and won’t know gender until birth. I have 3 older boys (and a girl ?) and we are definitely going to circumcise if it’s a boy like we did our others. In the past I didn’t know about petroleum jelly and that’s what they used to help my sons heal. I have been looking for a natural alternative. What would you use for that? Lanolin?

    • Hey Kayla,
      I have 4 boys, and yes, Lanolin is wonderful. The Nom brand from Amazon is much easier to use than the tube of Lansinoh. Also, the man who did 2 of our boys is from Israel, and he also puts honey on them, and I have since found that honey is really good for wounds. Just make sure that is is not crystallized.
      But lanolin is so, so amazing…

    • Kayla,

      Were you able to find something to use for your baby? I wondered the same thing as an alternative to petroleum jelly. Would love to find something more skin friendly for my baby boy due in April. Thanks 🙂

  28. Kayla you might like to look into emu oil as a natural healing aid. It is very safe, even for baby’s sensitive skin, and will help with any pain and encourage a quick heal.

  29. All you say about Petroleum Jelly is true for application to living beings, but there is NO BETTER cost effective anti-rust/metal protectant to be had. It even works well in a marine environment. The only other application I’ve used with success cost 10 times as much and includes scary petroleum-based volatiles in its ingredient list. So, I’m still buyin’ Petroleum Jelly. Just not for skin.

  30. As a pj alternative, I melt coconut oil, wisk in some olive oil until creamy and thickened. Looks and feels like Vaseline. In the warmer weather I add some beeswax to keep from having a puddle of oil.

  31. After doing some research while using essential oils I found out that coconut oil is a barrier oil and is not easily absorbed into the skin. So we do consume it and use for other things other than uses on the skin, however I do use fractionated coconut oil which is in liquid form, when using with the essential oils, besides sweet almond oil, hope this helps!

  32. Hello, thank you for the information. I have a skin condition called rosacea and I have used vaseline on my face daily as it seems to help keep the rosacea flare ups to a minimum. As I am wanting to be more mindful in eating healthier, I suppose the same should go for my skin. What would you recommend to use to help lock in moisture as rosacea can be very drying? I have tried using coconut oil in the past, but I found my flare ups got worse and the coconut oil didn’t hold the moisture as well as the vaseline.

    • I have used organic apple cider vinegar for my rosacea. It has helped since the very first time I used it. I was my face and then use that as an astringent at night. I also follow with a moisturizer on some nights. I also rinse my face after letting the vinegar sit for a bit. I love how soft it makes my face feel! 🙂

    • Hi Terri. I don’t know if you’ll see this, but I also have Rosacea, I recently purchased a product by Lotus Moon Skin Care called Cherry Blossom Healing Soothe. It’s for very dry, sensitive skin. I haven’t been able to use it because my skin reacts to everything!! But if you don’t have severely reactive skin, it may be helpful for you. And it has a wonderful natural fragrance too.

      The only thing I’ve been able to use is Vaseline…sigh.

  33. I use Vaseline to take my makeup off. What can i use instead of Vaseline. Thanks for the great article. Irene.

  34. My most recent beauty concern has been extreme dryness and redness under my left eye. I have no idea where this came from. Like most of the natural “remedies” that I’ve tried in my life, the ones you listed haven’t worked for me. Cocoa butter? Dried and irritated my skin even more. Coconut oil? Sounds like a winner, and I have it in abundance, but it didn’t do anything for my skin. Beeswax? Not sure where to find that, so I have yet to try it. Shea butter? Do I really have to send off to Africa for an expensive nut butter, adding an additional hefty charge for s&h? I don’t have the funds. (No, really. I don’t.) I’ve also tried cucumber, tea, oatmeal, and honey, which made a noticeable difference for all of half an hour. But one thing I’ve tried has worked beautifully, so much so that my dryness has all but disappeared, without any breakouts or other fearsome troubles, and that’s petroleum jelly. So, thank you kindly for your advice. I’ll keep my Vaseline.

  35. I recently found Waxelene, an alternative to Vaseline. Ingredients are: Organic Soy Oil, Beeswax, Natural Vitamin E Oil, Organic Rosemary Oil. I ordered the small lip balm from Amazon and found the large 9 ounce jar at CVS.

    I love it! Highly recommend Waxelene!

  36. I should have read the fine print ingredient list on EraAgelessFuture products. The eye serum first 4 ingredients are silicone and the 5th is organic jojoba. Nothing else is organic but it is marketed as such and “holistically balanced and responsibly wildcrafted crafted herbs.” If you read the fine print it says “includes certified organic ingredients.” I will stick to making my own products. Thanks wellness mama for your recipes.

  37. Hi I just wanted to share that Grass Fed beef tallow also makes a wonderful moisturizer when mixed with olive oil and essential oils. My husband is black and has always had a struggle with rusty, itchy skin and we have tried everything and nothing worked until this. It also has a moister sealant but it absorbs at a much higher level then coconut oil or Shea butter.

  38. Thank you for this. My five year old had a severe skin reaction to any petroleum products. Meaning if someone puts on lotion and touches her even for a second she has a reaction. Some are worse than others. We bath her directly after a crowd in castile soap and tea tree oil, then use a tea tree body butter in her to keep infections to a minimum. I realize tide and such products are cheesy and work well, and it’s bit everyone’s responsibility to change because my daughter has a weird allergy but every little bit is helpful.