Let’s talk about a product that’s sure to be a staple found in most American households…Vaseline! It’s actually been around since 1872 (whoa) and was discovered by a chemist that found a waxy residue in oil rig pumps. At first, it probably seems like a harmless product. But honestly, I kinda cringe when I hear people say they use it! This post shines some light on the ingredients, why I recommend avoiding it, and the BEST cleaner alternatives to use instead!
This post contains affiliate links.
This Post Covers:
- Why I Avoid Vaseline and Petroleum Products
- Natural Occlusive Ingredients to Use Instead
- Common Ways to Use Vaseline-Like Products
- 5+ Organic Alternatives to Vaseline & Aquaphor
Why I Avoid Vaseline and Petroleum Products
Products such as Vaseline and Aquaphor use petroleum as the main ingredient (you might also see it called petrolatum, mineral oil, or paraffin on a label). It’s meant to be occlusive and act as a barrier on your skin. According to Stacked Skincare:
“Occlusive agents are generally made up of large molecules that are unable to penetrate the skin. Rather than sinking into the skin, they sit right on the surface, acting like a protective layer. Because they repel water, occlusives actually prevent the water that’s in your skin from evaporating and escaping into the air, strengthening the skin’s moisture barrier.”
This is also why Vaseline-like products are often used on cuts and wounds because they help block irritants from passing through. And also why “slugging” aka slathering Vaseline on your face has become a viral TikTok trend (more info about slugging below!)
The Many Problems with Petroleum Products:
- Derived from crude oil 🛢
- A 2011 study concluded that they CANNOT be metabolized by the body; even the more pure and refined forms! This means they accumulate in our bodies over time and don’t get excreted.
- According to the Environmental Working Group, 22 percent of all petroleum-based cosmetics contain a carcinogenic impurity called 1,4 dioxane. A 2009 study actually discovered that mineral oil-based moisturizers increase the rate of tumor formation in mice! 🐭
- They are prevalent in tons of personal care products and are one of the largest contaminants in human tissues; they readily penetrate our skin.
- Although they form a shielding barrier, they don’t really offer any skincare benefits and hinder the skin’s natural respiration process (i.e your skin can’t breathe!)
- Petroleum-based products are classified as xenoestrogens and are known endocrine disruptors; a series of studies determined that they can lead to estrogen dominance!
Most clean beauty retailers and places such as Whole Foods ban petroleum/mineral oil ingredients and don’t allow it in products they sell!
Natural Occlusive Ingredients to Use Instead
The good news is there are plenty of ingredients that nature provides that function similarly! All while offering skincare benefits and breathable protection. Here are some common natural occlusives used in skin and body care products:
- Candelilla wax
- Carnauba wax
- Castor seed oil
- Cocoa butter
- Jojoba oil (which is technically a liquid wax)
- Lanolin (wool wax)
- Mango butter
- Shea butter
- Squalane (usually derived from olive oil)
Common Ways to Use Vaseline-Like Products
The nice thing about these types of products is that they are versatile and can be used in a multitude of ways, such as:
- Dry skin
- Chapped lips
- Diaper rash
- Anti-chafe and blister prevention
- Minor scrapes and burns
- Beard and mustache care
- After tattoo care
- Soften pet paws or hot spots
Related post: “Six Tips to Combat Dry Skin (with All Natural Products)”
Organic Alternatives to Vaseline & Aquaphor
Waxelene Multi-Purpose Ointment (⭐️ Becca’s Favorite!)
$12-$50 (multiple sizes available) • Contains beeswax
There are literally DOZENS of ways you can use Waxelene and it’s one of the closest textures to Vaseline I’ve come across! It even slightly smells like Vaseline and gives me major flashbacks. It’s four simple ingredients: organic beeswax, soy oil, rosemary oil, and Vitamin E. It uses a patented aeration process that infuses air particles into the ointment so pores don’t get clogged and skin can absorb air (which it needs in order to heal and release toxins).
I mostly find myself using this for chapped lips, cracked hands and feet, cuticles, itchy skin or cuts, and also on my dog’s paws in the winter 🐾 It’s truly so awesome and I feel like the jar lasts forever!
You can use code ORGANICALLYBECCA for a discount.
Also available here on Amazon.
Cocokind One-For-All Balm (💵 Budget Option)
$11 • Vegan (No beeswax)
If you want to avoid beeswax, this is for you. It uses a plant-based beeswax alternative (polyhydroxystearic acid). Bonus: it’s affordable! It has organic coconut oil (as the first ingredient), castor seed oil, shea butter, and sunflower seed wax. It comes in a squeeze tube which also makes it ideal for traveling.
This balm is free of essential oils and doesn’t have a fragrant smell, but the coconut oil gives it a slight beachy vibe! 🥥 And if you’re familiar with the consistency of coconut oil, it can feel a little heavy and greasy. This is thicker than straight-up coconut oil because of the butters and waxes it contains, but it’s probably the oiliest of all the recommendations here!
You can use code ORGANICALLYBECCA for a discount.
Also available here on Amazon.
$26 • Contains beeswax and lanolin
This salve has organic castor seed oil, carnauba wax, beeswax, lanolin, shea butter, and candelilla wax. It doesn’t have much of a smell. It’s more of a light jelly consistency instead of a thick, waxy balm; I appreciate that it doesn’t feel heavy or leave behind a greasy feeling. I do wish the tube were bigger (it’s only 0.5 oz), but I find that I don’t need much to get the job done! And it’s a cute little purse-friendly travel size.
$42 • Contains beeswax
This is definitely a luxe splurge! It’s formulated with organic shea butter, supercritical chia oil, and beeswax. Supercritical is an extraction method that uses CO2 and produces an extremely pure oil, and chia seeds are already rich in fatty acids and deeply moisturizing. This balm is thicker and kind of waxy, especially in colder temperatures. But once you mix it up, it applies smoothly and seamlessly and has a frosting-like texture. I LOVE the uplifting orange blossom essential oil scent that it has; you can almost use it as a light perfume!
$16 • Vegan (No beeswax)
This is one that I ALWAYS buy as a baby shower gift for my friends with little ones 👶 But adults can totally use it as well. It’s a velvety-smooth balm that has organic olive oil, raspberry seed oil, and mango butter for nourishment and protection. It’s creamy, spreadable, diaper-friendly, and MADE SAFE® certified! Not to mention dermatologist and allergy-tested.
Pleni Naturals always goes above and beyond with their formulations and the founder, Allyson, is a former aesthetician with a professional background in product education and skincare product development. She knows what’s up!
Natural Occlusives to Use For Slugging
Like I mentioned above, there is a K-beauty trend you might have heard of called slugging. It involves slathering your face with Vaseline before bed to make a thick barrier that traps in hydration and helps with dry skin overnight.
Most of the natural alternatives to Vaseline that I mentioned previously are most suitable for the body, lips, and smaller spots on the face, but might be too heavy to use on the ENTIRE face (especially if you have blemish-prone skin). It’s hard to say for sure what your skin can handle because we’re all different!
My top recommendation from above for facial use would be Waxelene because it’s aerated and formulated to not clog pores. The cocokind balm, for example, is probably NOT a good option for facial use since the main ingredient is coconut oil which can be comedogenic.
If you’re interested in trying slugging and don’t really need a Vaseline-type product for your body, I suggest a balm that’s made for facial use such as the Leahlani Bless Beauty Balm. It’s a thicker balm that is deeply moisturizing and can help seal in hydration but shouldn’t clog pores. It smells heavenly too!
Other Non-Toxic Barrier Options:
Although the products above are pretty rock-solid options, here are a couple more Vaseline alternatives on the market that might interest you!
Alba Botanica Un-Petroleum Jelly: I haven’t tried this one myself but it’s a cheap option with castor seed oil and beeswax; it looks promising! [$8.50]
All Good Goop Organic Ointment: Gooooooop! This contains organic olive oil, beeswax, and calendula in a glass jar [$24]
First Honey Sterile Manuka Honey Ointment: So, honey is a humectant and works differently than the occlusives in this post. But I wanted to mention it because manuka in particular can be used for wounds, cuts, burns, etc. It’s basically a swap for Neosporin but has no petroleum or neomycin (an antibiotic). It’s medical-grade and naturally antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory. Make sure to put a bandage over it so the honey doesn’t leak out! You can use code BECCA for a discount on your first order. [$13] Also available here on Amazon.
One Love Organics Skin Savior Multitasking Wonder Balm: Made with organic coconut oil, beeswax, jojoba, orange peel wax, and mango butter. It’s waxy but melts down to an oil and can also be used as a makeup-removing cleanser; it’s a citrusy vanilla treat! [$49]
Zoe Organics Skin Balm: This balm comes in a precious metal tin and is a concentrated formula; a little goes a long way! [$18]
If you’re a diehard Vaseline user, I encourage you to swap it out! There is certainly no shortage of safe, natural options out there that are equally as effective. Let me know in the comments if you have other alternatives that you love or any questions!