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Petroleum jelly

A mother and baby

Petrolatum, more commonly known as petroleum jelly, is widely used in beauty and personal care products and has a unique moisturising ability unlike many other ointments and creams.

Petrolatum’s unique moisturising ability is unlike many other ointments and creams, some of which just sit on the skin’s surface, or enter and leave the skin too quickly.

Unilever’s original petroleum jelly – Vaseline® Jelly – helps dry skin to heal by locking in moisture and by creating a protective layer below the skin surface. By locking in moisture, Vaseline® Jelly helps combat conditions such as scaly, peeling skin and accelerates the skin’s own natural recovery.

Personal care products containing petrolatum have a long track record of safe use, and Vaseline® Jelly has been a trusted staple in family bathroom cabinets for more than 145 years. Today’s Vaseline® Jelly is triple purified and has many protective and preventative applications, from beauty use to baby care.

Your questions answered

Where does petrolatum come from?

In the mid-19th century, workers in the first oil fields in the US found a jelly-like substance forming on their rigs and began to use it as an ointment for cuts and burns. The chemist Robert Chesebrough discovered how to distil this substance – petrolatum – into a lighter, purified version, which he marketed as Vaseline® Jelly. Since then Vaseline® Jelly has become enormously popular due to its effectiveness both on its own and as an ingredient in cosmetics and personal care products.

Is it safe to use Unilever personal care products containing petrolatum?

Yes. The petrolatum we use is high purity, meeting pharmaceutical standards. It is effective, extensively evaluated and safe to use on a regular basis. This view is supported by a number of regulatory and health authorities including the Food and Drug Administration, the agency responsible for overseeing food and drug safety in the US, which recognises petrolatum as an over-the-counter skin protectant.

Commander Robert Peary, generally accepted to be the first man to reach the North Pole, took Vaseline® Jelly with him to protect his skin during his 1909 expedition because it wouldn't freeze.

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