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5 Reasons You Should Add Petroleum Jelly to Your Skincare Routine After 50

Say goodbye to pricey creams and hello to this inexpensive and effective alternative.

Petroleum jelly, commonly known by the brand name Vaseline, is seemingly sold in every pharmacy and found in everyone's medicine cabinet. In other words, it's easily accessible and inexpensive. It also might be "the most versatile skincare product on the market," according to Fayne L. Frey, MD, FAAD, consumer advocate, dermatologist, and author of The Skincare Hoax.

Perhaps this is why, in early 2022, petroleum jelly went viral on TikTok when influencers began sharing videos of themselves "slugging," or slathering their faces with petroleum jelly before bedtime. But even if you prefer not to sleep with your face feeling like slug slime (yes, that's where the term came from), you can still reap the benefits of this age-old product. And after 50, it might be even more beneficial to add petroleum jelly to your skincare routine. Read on to hear from Frey and other dermatologists to find out why.

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It hydrates your skin and reduces the appearance of wrinkles.

Older woman smiling at herself in the mirror.
Jacob Wackerhausen / iStock

If you feel like your skin is getting drier as you get older, it's not your imagination. "As we age, our oil glands start to produce less oil leading to dryness," notes Arash Akhavan, MD, FAAD, owner of the Dermatology and Laser Group in New York City.

Petroleum jelly addresses this dryness with extreme effectiveness. "When applied to the skin, petroleum jelly creates a barrier that physically prevents water from evaporating from the skin into the environment," Frey explains. "As a result, the water content of skin increases, yielding skin that is more hydrated." And skin that is adequately hydrated will show fewer wrinkles and fine lines.

Frey says that petroleum jelly can reduce water loss from the skin by 98 percent. On her website, she notes that, in addition to the face, petroleum jelly can be used to "soothe dry cracked skin on problematic areas like elbows and knees, soften dry cracked heels, and seal chapped lips."

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It's safe for sensitive skin.

Shot of a mature woman applying her skincare in the bathroom

Many skincare products on the market today advertise petroleum jelly as an ingredient. "[It is] found within skincare formulations in smaller percentages in more than half of all moisturizers found on drugstore shelves today," says Frey.

However, Frey cautions that "these products often contain other ingredients that may elicit allergic reactions, such as lanolin alcohol or a preservative like phenoxyethanol."

Petroleum jelly, on the other hand, is odorless, tasteless, and rarely causes allergic reactions. "It is a safe and effective skin protectant," Frey says. "Since allergies to petroleum jelly are so rare, it is often used as a negative control in clinical allergy patch testing."

It makes other skincare products more effective.

older woman looking at her dry skin, look better after 40

Applying expensive skincare products such as eye creams or serums at night can feel futile when it all seems to have rubbed off while you were sleeping. Here's where slugging comes in.

When you cover your face with petroleum jelly after you apply your product, "it protects your skin and enables your skincare products to do their best work," says Frey. "Provided that your skin is well-suited to slugging, you can reasonably expect healthier, softer skin after trying this treatment."

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It does double duty for eyes.

Mature woman applying cream under her eyes.
Ridofranz / iStock

According to the American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD), "The skin on your eyelids is the thinnest skin on the body and can get irritated easily." And for the aforementioned reasons, this can become more of an issue as we age. "If your eyelids get dry and flaky, apply a small amount of petroleum jelly for moisture and protection," advises the AAD. "For the best results, always apply petroleum jelly when your skin is damp."

Certain eye makeup removers can further irritate or dry out this skin, which is why using petroleum jelly is a great alternative. "It will break down your makeup and allow it to wipe right off. Just be careful not to get it into your eyes," says Vaseline on its website.

And it's a quick makeup hack!

A woman with short gray hair wearing a gray cardigan puts makeup on in a small mirror.
RealPeopleGroup / iStock

Using lots of pore-clogging makeup is not always great for our skin. But if you're looking for a quick and easy way to zhuzh things up, just grab your tub of petroleum jelly.

In an interview with Huff Post, board-certified dermatologist Angela Kim said, "For a game-changing makeup look without the hassle of makeup, groom your eyebrows or crimp your eyelashes with Vaseline."

And in an interview with Page Six, Kim Kardashian's makeup artist Mario Dedivanovic said that he uses Vaseline to create an "expensive glow" on the reality star's face. "I pat it right along the cheekbones, which gives you the most alluring, gorgeous glow."

Luisa Colón
Luisa Colón is a writer, editor, and consultant based in New York City. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, Latina, and many more. Read more
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