Almost as much as Bio-Oil, Vaseline is a point of contention within the beauty community. On one hand, there’s the “She would really grease up, and her skin was magnificent for it” camp of Debi Mazar and her grandmother. Then there’s the rest of the internet, where people will tell you that rubbing petroleum jelly over your face can clog pores and lead to styes. Not good. So what’s the deal?
Vaseline—or in its generic form, petroleum jelly—is a by-product of the oil refining process. It forms on the bottom of oil rigs and is unwanted because it can cause them to malfunction. The solution? Bottle it up and sell it at the drugstore. Of all the things petroleum jelly is, it is definitely not eco-friendly, so if that’s your bag, be aware. But that doesn't mean the product itself is dirty. It goes through a refining process, and Vaseline—the brand—is triple purified. Can't vouch for off-brand purity though.
As far as moisturizing goes, think of Vaseline as creating a thick barrier between your skin and the environment—the opposite of a humectant, which draws in moisture. It’s actually in the camp of occlusive agents, which prevent loss of moisture. In order to best prevent breakouts, use petroleum jelly on a clean, washed face at night as it’s greasy and not compatible with daytime activities. But for what it's worth, name-brand Vaseline is non-comedogenic.
Though there is something to be said about all the wise grandmothers referenced on ITG who use Vaseline as their main anti-aging skincare product (semantics aside). “Sometimes I’ll just use Vaseline because the only beauty routine my grandmother, who’s 92 and looks like she’s 72, ever, ever did was use Oil of Olay and Vaseline on her face. It sounds really heavy and really gross, but she barely has any wrinkles!” Susan Cernek adds to Debi Mazar's push for the stuff. Maybe it ain't such a bad thing—it is one of the top ingredients in Crème de la Mer, after all.