Should You Use Vaseline for Dry Lips?

Do you use Vaseline for lips that are chapped? Find out whether Vaseline is good for lips and some other alternatives that work for dry, chapped lips.

When your lips feel dry and chapped, do you reach for the old standby – Vaseline? Vaseline for lips is one of the most popular products people use to protect and heal lips that are moisture starved and chapped – but is it really an effective treatment? Is Vaseline good for your lips?

What is in Vaseline?

A bottle of Vaseline has a single ingredient – petroleum jelly, which is a by-product of oil production. Specifically, it’s a mixture of hydrocarbons. Despite the fact that it doesn’t sound healthy, petroleum jelly has been used for more than a century to treat ailments including cuts, burns, rashes, irritated skin – and even to soften nail cuticles. It’s popular because it’s readily available in supermarkets and drugstores – and it’s inexpensive.

Is Vaseline Good for Your Lips?

If you look past the fact that it’s a by-product of oil production, Vaseline for dry lips does have some benefits. It not only helps to soften lips, but it creates a barrier to reduce further moisture loss. This is important when you go outside in the winter when the air is dry – and a blast of cold air hits your face.

Exposure to dry air causes lips to become chapped and irritated. This leads to repetitive lip-licking which worsens the problem. Using Vaseline breaks this “lick and chap” cycle. It also has the advantage of being less expensive than other remedies for dry or chapped lips – and if you use it consistently it works well.

Is Vaseline Toxic or Does It Cause Cancer?

There’s no strong evidence that petroleum jelly or Vaseline causes cancer. The European Union classifies it as a substance that “may cause cancer”. This is because the form of petroleum jelly used in industrial applications sometimes contains cancer-causing impurities. The petroleum jelly available at pharmacies has been more highly refined to remove these impurities. Theoretically, it shouldn’t pose a risk of toxicity – and there are no studies showing it causes cancer.

Vaseline for Dry Lips: What are the Alternatives?

Not everyone wants to use hydrocarbons on their lips. If you want a more natural alternative to treat chapped lips, try using shea butter, olive oil, aloe vera, or vitamin E oil instead of Vaseline. Use one of these products consistently, especially during the winter, and you should experience softer, healthier lips without putting hydrocarbons on your lips.


Mother Nature website. “Chapped Lips”

PAN Pesticides Database

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