Green alternative to Vaseline & petroleum jelly

Unilever's Vaseline is basically petroleum jelly (also called petrolatum) so if you'd rather not put this oil industry by-product on your skin or lips, you need a green alternative to Vaseline. In this post I give you some alternative products to try plus some recipes if you'd like to make your own.

I always used to use Vaseline on my lips but stopped when as I discovered that Vaseline is a by-product from the oil industry and there was no way that I wanted to put that on my skin. I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that petroleum jelly was a moisturiser. These products don't actually moisturise. Occlusives like Vaseline Jelly create a barrier to lock in the moisture by replacing the lost protective lipid layer, as long as your skin is already moisturised. I read a brilliant but scary description in an article on the Huffington Post website in which New York-based dermatologist Dr. Alan Dattner, founder of, said:

It’s like putting a piece of plastic over your skin – it prevents evaporation.

What is petroleum jelly?

The main ingredient in Vaseline is petroleum jelly which was discovered coating the bottom of oil rigs in the mid-1800s and would clog up the machinery. (Who's thinking this sounds like the ideal thing to nourish their skin?) It's a waste-product of the oil industry so far from ideal if you're a green beauty fan. It's used for many things such as treating dry skin, as a lip balm, to prevent chafing and for nappy rash.

Is petroleum jelly potentially harmful?

The concern that using petroleum jelly can cause cancer arose because components that are removed from the oil during the refining process of petroleum jelly are carcinogenic in some cases. Vaseline is highly-refined, triple-purified and regarded as non-carcinogenic and according to the EWG's database is a considered to be a low-hazard product. Petrolatum itself is classed as a moderate hazard on the EWG website and more than 1700 products containing petrolatum are listed.

Why is petroleum jelly used in skin and body care products?

Paraffinum liquidum, mineral oil and petroleum jelly are all petroleum-based ingredients you might find listed in skincare and beauty products. The main reason I think they're used is because they are cheap and the brands that use them are very much about making a big profit.

What's the green alternative to Vaseline? What can I use instead of petroleum jelly?

I think you and your skin deserve much better than this and there are plenty of natural and sustainable alternatives to petroleum jelly. For an “organic Vaseline” try products containing beeswax, coconut oil, olive oil, shea butter and cocoa butter. I've included some great natural alternatives to buy and also some recipe links so you can have a go at making your own. I've also written a post about lip balms which don't contain petroleum jelly.

Buy natural alternative to Vaseline or petroleum jelly

Gem's Dry Skin Balm, £12, 30ml

Gem’s Dry Skin Balm is a 100% natural balm which soothes and relieves dry, sore, sensitive skin and can be used as a lip balm too so it's a great natural alternative to Vaseline. It’s also suitable for eczema, psoriasis and rosacea. A pot lasts a long time.

Read my review of Gem's Dry Skin Balm.

Balm Balm Lip Balm, £3.50, 7ml

This little pot of goodness is a bargain at £3.50 and will last you ages. It comes in a fragrance-free version, tea tree or, my favourite, rose geranium. Buy from Big Green Smile

Balm Balm Fragrance Free Lip Balm – Ingredients: butyrospermum parkii (shea butter), helianthus annuus (sunflower oil), cera alba (beeswax), calendula officinalis (calendula oil), simmondsia chinensis (jojoba oil)

Figs & Rouge Lip Balm, £5, 17ml

Figs & Rouge make 100% natural, petroleum-free lip balms which have the look and texture of Vaseline but without the oil-industry by-products! They are reasonably-priced, come in various flavours and in pretty little tins which are ideal for your handbag. Although they're called lip balms they can be used on other areas too. I recommend the Coco Vanilla one which smells delicious. Available from LoveLula.

Suti Purity Organic Balm, £26, 50ml

This gentle and soothing multi-purpose balm is made from botanicals including Sunflower, Sesame and Apricot Kernel to nourish and protect; Shea Butter, Chamomile and Calendula to help calm and soothe irritated, inflamed and blemished skin, and Lavender to rejuvenate and revive tired complexions. It melts straight into the skin and can be used as a lip balm, for face, neck and other parts of the body in need of TLC.

Available from LoveLula

Organic shea butter

I quite often see this on sale in little tins in natural health and beauty stores but you can buy it online to use to make your own beauty and skincare products or just use neat as an alternative to Vaseline.

Make your own green alternative to Vaseline or petroleum jelly

Here are some of the recipes I've found on the internet and they look really simple to make. I've not tried to do this but so if you decide to try any of these, please let me know how you get on in the comments.

Join the discussion

Please share your favourite green alternative to Vaseline or petroleum jelly and I'll add them to the post. Thanks.

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