My Vaseline Addiction Is No Joke

At least I'm not eating it?
Publish date:
December 2, 2013
products, dry skin, vaseline, chapped lips

Vaseline has been a part of my life ever since I can remember. When I was a child, my mother (who, at 56, has the skin of a newborn) would slather my entire face with it during frigid New York City winters to protect me from the cold. But the main use for it was to moisturize my lips.

As an adult, I apply Vaseline at least a dozen times a day -- and that’s a conservative count. I never leave home without a mini jar of the stuff -- and if I do, it completely ruins my ability to function. When I'm out at dinner Vaseline-less and my lips become dry after a couple of bites, I resort to licking them constantly, which only exacerbates my chapped lip problem. Recently, when I ventured to the library sans Vaseline, I had to pick up and leave to buy a new jar from the drug store in order to be productive for the rest of the day.

It's gotten to the point where my boyfriend, cognizant of my Vaseline addiction, will grab the jar from the closet, shake it in my general direction, and yell, "No more petrolatum!" in his best Joan Crawford voice. My reply is always some version of “Whatevs.”

Here’s why Vaseline gets a bad rap: its active (and only) ingredient, petrolatum, doesn’t actually penetrate the skin; it sits on top of it to create a moisture barrier. This is all good until the product wears off (usually in about 30 minutes or so, depending on your lip activity), and your mouth is left bare to face the elements on its own. For me, all that means is that I need to apply more goop and go on about my business. For others, it seems like a never-ending cycle that prevents the lips from self-moisturizing naturally.

I am in awe of people who can go hours (!) without applying any type of ointment to their lips. I feel like I’ve missed the self-hydrating-lip bus and the only way to even attempt getting on it would be to go cold turkey on the Vaseline. Which, no. I already drink two liters of water daily, so what else is there to this hydration game?

I can't quit the all-purpose jelly that has been so good to me for so many years, even if it has created an obvious dependence. One jar lasts months, it’s a super low-cost purchase, and my elbows, feet, and lips all have it to thank for their lack of ashiness. Even when I have ventured away from my favorite brand with ChapStick, Rosebud Salve, or Kiehl's Lip Balm #1, I come running back.

And while, yes, it would be nice to not have to use anything, I’ve come to view Vaseline as a passed-down beauty ritual from my mom. I’d love to look like her when I’m 56, so I’m sticking to what I know for now.

Are you addicted to any products? What are the cosmetics that you absolutely can’t live without?