Vaseline is safe for most people to apply to their face as a moisturizer. But, it may also increase the risk of skin irritation and acne in those prone to these symptoms.

Vaseline is a common brand name for petroleum jelly. It is an inexpensive skin care product that is available in most drugstores. Various formulations of petroleum jelly are available, but the manufacturers of Vaseline take steps to purify their product.

In this article, we outline some of the possible benefits and risks of applying Vaseline to the face. We also suggest some uses of Vaseline and provide tips on how to apply it to the face.

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Vaseline is safe for most people to use as a moisturizing product.

Vaseline is a moisturizing product that is safe for most people to put on their face.

People can apply Vaseline to help with short-term skin concerns, such as temporary skin dryness or irritation. Vaseline is also suitable as a long-term moisturizer.

Below, we discuss some of the benefits of using Vaseline on the face.


Petroleum jelly is an oil-based product that forms an oily film over the surface of the skin. This oily film seals in moisture, helping keep skin hydrated and soft.

According to a 2016 review article, Vaseline prevents more than 98% of water loss from the outer layer of the skin. This type of water loss is known as transepidermal water loss (TEWL).

In comparison, similar oil-based moisturizers, such as mineral oil and lanolin, reduce TEWL by about 20–30%.

Creating a physical barrier

The same oily film that seals in moisture also creates a physical barrier on the skin. This barrier protects against harsh elements and environmental pollutants that can damage the skin.

While Vaseline is typically safe to use on the face, it may not be suitable for everyone. Below are some potential risks of using Vaseline on the face.

Increased breakouts

While Vaseline helps seal moisture into the skin, some experts have suggested that it may also trap in oil and dirt. As such, the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) warn that people who are prone to acne may experience breakouts after applying Vaseline to the face.

However, according to Vaseline’s company website, Vaseline is noncomedogenic, meaning that it will not clog or block pores.

Nonetheless, people who have oily or acne-prone skin may not like the greasy feeling that Vaseline leaves on the skin.

Skin irritation

According to a 2016 review, there are no reports of people experiencing a severe allergic reaction to Vaseline. Less severe allergic skin reactions are also rare.

However, anyone who develops any of the following symptoms after applying Vaseline should stop using the product:

  • skin redness or soreness
  • itching
  • swelling or inflammation

According to the AAD, it is best to apply Vaseline to slightly damp skin. As such, the best time to apply it is after having a shower or washing the face.

People typically apply Vaseline using their fingertips. Before applying the product, a person should wash their hands thoroughly with soap and water to avoid introducing any bacteria onto the facial skin.

A person can then apply a thin layer of Vaseline to dry areas of the skin, taking caring to avoid the mucous membranes of the eyes.

Vaseline has many potential uses as a skin care product, including those below:

Soothing dry skin

The AAD recommend applying Vaseline to parts of the face that are prone to dryness, such as the lips and eyelids. They suggest applying a small amount of Vaseline to slightly damp skin to help seal in moisture.

Alleviating itching

Atopic dermatitis is a skin condition that causes patches of dry, flaky, and itchy skin.

Dermatologists often recommend petroleum jelly and similar ointments as a treatment for atopic dermatitis. These ointments seal in moisture, thereby reducing the skin dryness and flakiness that contribute to itching.

Assisting wound healing

According to the AAD, petroleum jelly may aid in the healing of minor wounds, such as cuts, scrapes, and scratches. The petroleum jelly locks in moisture, preventing the wound dryness and scabbing that ordinarily prolong wound healing.

By speeding up wound healing, petroleum jelly may also prevent the formation of large, deep, or itchy scars.

Sealing in other skin treatments

A person can apply serums or other active ingredients to their skin before applying Vaseline as a moisturizer. The Vaseline will help seal in the other skin care products, allowing them more time to work on the skin.

Cosmetic uses

Some people apply Vaseline to the apples of the cheeks as an alternative to blush or highlighter.

Several different moisturizing ingredients are suitable for use on the face. They typically fall into one of three categories: occlusives, emollients, and humectants.

Often, the manufacturers of skin care products will combine more than one type of moisturizer to enhance the moisturizing ability of the product.

Below are the three different types of moisturizers, along with some examples.


Occlusives, such as petroleum jelly, create a barrier over the skin, helping prevent water loss.

Two other common occlusive moisturizers are lanolin and mineral oil. However, a 2016 review notes that these ingredients may have a higher tendency to cause allergic reactions.


Emollients are oils and high fat compounds that soften and smooth the skin.

Some examples of emollient moisturizers include:

  • plant oils, such as grapeseed, sesame seed, and jojoba
  • nut butters, which include cocoa butter and shea butter
  • squalene


Humectants are ingredients that bond with water molecules, thereby attracting water into the skin.

Two common humectant moisturizers are glycerin and hyaluronic acid.

As long as a person is not sensitive or allergic to Vaseline, this product is typically safe to apply to the face. In fact, Vaseline has many uses, from improving skin hydration to promoting wound healing.

Vaseline is an occlusive moisturizer, meaning that it seals moisture into the skin. To boost moisturization, people should apply the product to slightly damp skin.

People can use Vaseline alone or in combination with other moisturizers and skin care products.

Anyone who notices any skin irritation after using Vaseline should stop using it straight away.