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Vaseline...a most polarizing topic

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Vaseline is a weirdly polarizing topic. Gen Z influencers love it, and apply it to their faces in the evenings, calling it “slugging.” Millennials were taught to fear it back in the 90’s, claiming it would clog your pores. People of all ages are worried about its origins in cancer-causing petroleum. So what’s the rub?

As usual, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. Vaseline is a highly purified substrate of petroleum, which is formed over centuries of pressure and heat applied to biological products. Let’s be clear–the elements that make up vaseline are the same ones that are in beeswax, coconut oil, and other ‘natural’ ingredients, and include carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen.

Yes, you probably shouldn’t eat a lot of it, because that could increase your risk of cancer, but I don’t know anyone who’s in the habit of swallowing vaseline.

Its status as a moisturizer is the highest level, called an occlusive. This means it forms a barrier to moisture on your skin, disallowing any hydration from escaping, and supplying its own hydration. In the setting of dry skin or a damaged skin barrier (sunburn, too much active ingredients, etc), vaseline and other petroleum based products are a great choice.

But, to those “slugging” influencers I’d say if you need to apply vaseline every night to adequately moisturize your skin, your skincare regimen needs to be adjusted. I’d guess these influencers are probably over-using other skincare ingredients that cause their skin to be inflamed and overly dry.

Multiple research studies show that petroleum jelly is a safe and effective treatment for many skin ailments, and dermatologists recommend it routinely for patients from birth to the elderly. The moral of the story is if you feel you need moisture or protection for your skin, Vaseline is a great option. If you feel you need it every day, let’s schedule a skin care consultation to see how we can improve your daily routine.

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