The many uses of petroleum jelly like Vaseline in your beauty regimen, from viral slugging to hair and eyelash care

PHOTO: Pexels

Many would consider Vaseline, the petroleum jelly patented in 1865, the OG moisturiser - but the world has found out that it can do so much more than that.

Petroleum jelly was discovered in the 1800s by American chemist Robert Chesebrough, who was travelling in the United States when he learned oil workers were using rod wax - residue from the oil drill pumps they were using - to heal burns and wounds.

This wax was an unrefined form of petroleum jelly and contained carcinogenic compounds, which it would lose in its refined state.

However, even though this blend of mineral oils and waxes has proven safe for human use, many still wonder if it is still potentially dangerous.

Dr Marina Peredo, a cosmetic dermatologist in New York, says that although fears remain that Vaseline could be considered a carcinogen even in its refined state, "there are no clinical studies that demonstrate that the use of petrolatum promotes cancer", using another name for petroleum jelly.

"Today's formulas have been purified and tested, and are cleaner and healthier than ever before," she says.

Petroleum jelly is considered one of the most effective occlusives (a moisturising agent that forms a protective coating) in the market, and perfect for dry, cracked skin or lips, as it forms a barrier that shields and prevents water loss.

Its healing and protective properties have made it popular on social media, where slugging - a process that involves slathering Vaseline on your face before bed to help lock moisture in - has become one of the top beauty hacks for skin lovers and dermatologists.

"Unless you have an allergy or sensitivity to petrolatum, it is pretty universally well tolerated," says Dr Deanne Mraz Robinson, chief medical officer of aesthetics brand Ideal Image and the co-founder of medical group Modern Dermatology PC.

"It is, however, important to understand that Vaseline on its own will not moisturise your skin - it will only 'lock in' the moisture already in your skin and what is applied underneath it."

There are many ways to use petroleum jelly and take advantage of its multiple benefits, from extending the lifespan of perfume to cleaning up manicures to conditioning lashes.

Fragrance prep for your skin

If you would like your perfume to last longer, Vaseline might be the answer. When your skin is adequately moisturised, it's more capable of holding fragrances so they don't evaporate as quickly.

Rubbing a thin layer of petroleum jelly on the spots where you apply your perfume can help them last longer throughout the day.

Choose different pulse points across your body, such as the inner elbows, wrists, neck and the back of your knees, as these warm areas help diffuse the fragrance across your body.

No more cracked heels or elbows

If you struggle with cracked, dry heels or elbows, a dollop of petroleum jelly can be helpful to get them smoother and plumper.

Simply top your favourite moisturiser with a layer of Vaseline - remember, Vaseline on its own won't do any hydrating.

Petroleum jelly will help ease irritation and seal in moisture that is already in the skin, so make sure to pair it with a hydrating, nourishing moisture agent.

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Fix chafing

Chafing - one of the most vexing summer skin struggles - happens when body parts rub against each other or clothing. This is caused by any combination of friction, moisture and irritating agents, which can induce stings, burns and inflammation and rashes.

In some cases, it may cause swelling and bleeding.

Applying petroleum jelly over those problem areas can protect your skin from this phenomenon.

A manicure safeguard

Petroleum jelly can speed up the healing process of dry nail beds and cuticles.

If manicures and pedicures are a part of your usual routine, applying some Vaseline to your nails and cuticles in between sessions will help reduce brittleness and prevent chipping.

Applying it around your nails before putting on polish can help you keep the paint neat.

Good for the eyelashes

Many believe that using petroleum jelly on your eyelashes can help them grow longer and thicker, faster, but the reality is that the power of Vaseline is more aesthetic- than growth-related.

Vaseline is full of emollients (softeners or smoothers) that can condition hair follicles.

This means it can help make your eyelashes appear as though they are thicker.

The viscous nature of petroleum jelly aids with hair bonding, making each of your lashes look more voluminous and providing a fuller yet natural appearance.

Razor blade maintenance

If you're a razor blade user, you've probably been frustrated at how quickly they can rust. To stop them from doing so, spread a very thin layer of petroleum jelly onto the blades between every use to keep rust at bay - but make sure the razor is completely dry before doing so.

Keeps hair smooth

PHOTO: Pexels

If your hair is on the drier side, applying a pea-sized amount of petroleum jelly to it can tame frizz and flyaways without a crunchy or greasy feel. Additionally, those with dry scalps can benefit from its potential to fight flakiness, dandruff and itching.

A bit of Vaseline can also lessen the appearance of split ends and hair damage, whether from sun exposure, pool water or harsh colouring formulas.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.