Difference Between Vaseline and Petroleum Jelly

Every person has a different skin structure. Some have dry skin, others oily.

A moisturizer is especially important for dry skin. As the moisturizer softens the skin, the lubricant softens the frictional parts of machines.

Winters mark a season of dryness. Therefore, the demand for moisturizers shoots up.

These moisturizers may be aloe-vera based, but the most popular ones are those based on petroleum jelly. However, vaseline and petroleum jelly are different.

Vaseline vs Petroleum Jelly

The main difference between vaseline and petroleum jelly is that vaseline is a smooth mixture of mineral oils and petroleum jelly, whereas petroleum jelly is a rough semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbons.

Vaseline vs Petroleum Jelly

Vaseline is a popular petroleum jelly brand. It prevents the skin from losing moisture.

It has been in use for more than a century.

Petroleum jelly is a semi-solid mixture of elements such as hydrogen and carbon. It has several uses in cosmetics and hair-care products.


Comparison Table Between Vaseline and Petroleum Jelly (in Tabular Form)

Parameter Of ComparisonVaselinePetroleum Jelly
DefinitionIt is a patented brand of medicinal petroleum jelly.It is a mineral extracted from the ores.
Alternative NamesIt itself is a brand name for a medicinal petroleum jelly product.Petrolatum or soft paraffin.
ConstituentsHydrocarbons, mineral oils, and smoothening substances.1,1,2 – trimethylbenzeindole as the main constituent alongwith other hydrocarbons.
UtilityUsed as a healer for dry skin, anti-rash lotion, and in hair-care.Used as an anti-corrosive coating, leather conditioner, machine lubricant, and in explosive manufacturing.
Beginning IngredientMade from rod wax.Made from paraffin wax.


What is Vaseline?

It is a patented American brand of medicinal petroleum jelly. It is owned by Unilever.

It is primarily used as a lotion for dry skin. However, it is also used in soaps, moisturizers, creams, and deodorants.

It was Robert Cheseborough who discovered the use of rod wax in Pennsylvania. The rod wax was a residue in oil wells that had to be removed from the extracted oil.

It would float on the surface of oil rigs, and the oil workers applied it on their wounds. Then Cheseborough took a sample of this rod wax with him and extracted the medicinal jelly from it.

In 1872, Cheseborough patented the Vaseline petroleum jelly. He derived the name Vaseline from the German word Wasser meaning water and the Greek word elaion meaning olive oil.

The beginning ingredient of vaseline is petroleum. The petroleum is first highly refined to make it pure.

Subsequently, mineral oils are added to it to make it smooth. Vaseline is characterized as a protector of skin moisture.

It is non-carcinogenic, and has no ill effects on the skin.

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What is Petroleum Jelly?

The petroleum jelly is a mineral extracted from the oil wells. The alternative names for petroleum jelly are petrolatum, soft paraffin, or multi-hydrocarbon.

The petroleum jelly is derived from paraffin wax. It has considerable industrial use.

Apart from that, it is also used as a medicinal ingredient in products such as Vaseline.

Its use is widespread in industries. It is used as an anti-corrosion coating, leather conditioner, machine lubricant, and in the manufacture of explosives.

In the cosmetic and medicinal sector, it has contributed a lot. It is used in lip balms, moisturizers, soaps, and deodorants.

Initially, the oil workers would throw it away from the ores because it used to complicate the working of the machines.

But they used it to heal their wounds. The primary hydrocarbon in the manufacture of petroleum jelly is 1,1,2 – trimethylbenzeindole.

It has a melting point of about 40-70°C.

The petroleum jelly is a translucent semi-solid. It is inert to chemicals and is insoluble in water.

However, while the medicinal petroleum jelly is white on color, the industrial one is yellow.

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Main Differences Between Vaseline and Petroleum Jelly

Vaseline is derived from the petroleum jelly. It is a popular anti-dryness lotion.

Although it has only medicinal properties, its parent petroleum jelly has several industrial properties as well.

The main differences between the two are :

  1. Vaseline is a medicinal variant of petroleum jelly that is used as a moisturizer. On the other hand, petroleum jelly is a mineral extracted from oil wells.
  2. Vaseline is itself a brand name, whereas petroleum jelly has other names like petrolatum and soft paraffin.
  3. Vaseline consists of some hydrocarbons and mineral oils, whereas petroleum jelly consists of the primary hydrocarbon 1,1,2 – trimethylbenzeindole aside others.
  4. Vaseline is used for moisturization of dry skin, whereas petroleum jelly is used as an anti-corrosive and lubricant for machines.
  5. Vaseline is refined from rod wax, whereas petroleum jelly is refined from paraffin wax.
Difference Between Vaseline and Petroleum Jelly



Petroleum jelly has almost universal uses. It is used in industries for lubrication, coating, conditioning, and other purposes.

In the medicinal arena, the vaseline is used for restoring moisture in dry skin and lips. It is also used in soaps and deodorants.

These medicinal and industrial varieties of utility have been possible due to the semi-solid nature of petroleum jelly. The white-colored jelly is used as vaseline, while the yellow-colored jelly is used as a lubricant.

However, the main problem with vaseline is that it doesn’t provide extra moisture to the skin. It merely traps the skin’s moisture from escaping.

Also, being insoluble in water, it isn’t washed away and sticks to the skin.

Continued use of vaseline and other petroleum-based products can make our skin used to it. This, in turn, can degrade the natural moisturizing process of the skin.

A research in 2015 has suggested that vaseline has high concentrations of Mineral Oil Aromatic Hydrocarbons. These are doubted to cause cancer, and therefore are advised not to be used.

It is known that petroleum jelly is extracted from toxic crude oil. It has dangerous effects on the lungs and can even cause pneumonia.

Also, the extraction of petroleum jelly causes significant damage to ecology. Therefore, there is a need for sustainable methods and products to reduce pollution and ill effects on the health of consumers.


  1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1365-2273.2004.00813.x
  2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1049909113502578
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Last update on 2022-08-17 / Amazon Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API