Vaseline (/ˈvæsəln/)[1][2][note 1] is an American brand of petroleum jelly-based products owned by transnational company Unilever.[3] Products include plain petroleum jelly and a selection of skin creams, soaps, lotions, cleansers, and deodorants.

Vaseline Logo.svg
Product typePetroleum jelly body lotion
CountryUnited States
Introduced1872; 150 years ago (1872)
TaglineThe Healing Power of Vaseline
Vaseline in container. Produced in USSR.

In many languages, the word "Vaseline" is used as generic for petroleum jelly; in Portugal, the Unilever products are called Vaselina, and in Brazil and some Spanish-speaking countries, the Unilever products are called Vasenol.


An image from Vaseline company archives

In 1859, Robert Chesebrough, a chemist who formerly clarified kerosene from the oil of sperm whales, traveled to the oil fields in Titusville, Pennsylvania to research what new materials might be created from this new fuel. There he learned of a residue called rod wax that had to be periodically removed from oil rig pumps. The oil workers had been using the substance to heal cuts and burns. Chesebrough took samples of the rod wax back to Brooklyn, extracted the usable petroleum jelly, and began manufacturing a medicinal product he called Vaseline.[4]

The first known reference to the name Vaseline was by Chesebrough in his U.S. patent (U.S. Patent 127,568) in 1872. "I, Robert Chesebrough, have invented a new and useful product from petroleum which I have named Vaseline..."

The name "vaseline" is said by the manufacturer to be derived from German Wasser "water" + Greek έλαιον (elaion) "oil".[5]

Vaseline was made by the Chesebrough Manufacturing Company until the company was purchased by Unilever in 1987.


Vaseline in its container

While Vaseline can be used as a lubricant, it can also be used as a moisture insulator for local skin conditions characterized by tissue dehydration.


In 2015, German consumer watchdog Stiftung Warentest analyzed cosmetics containing mineral oils. After developing a new detection method, they found high concentrations of Mineral Oil Aromatic Hydrocarbons (MOAH) and even polyaromatics in products containing mineral oils. Vaseline products contained the most MOAH of all tested cosmetics (up to 9%).[6] The European Food Safety Authority sees MOAH and polyaromatics as possibly carcinogenic.[6] Based on the results, Stiftung Warentest warns not to use Vaseline or any other products containing mineral oils.[7]

Ingredient sourcesEdit

White petrolatum, the ingredient in petroleum jelly Vaseline, is refined from petroleum.



  1. ^ Also pronounced with the main stress on the last syllable /ˌvæsəˈln/.


  1. ^ "Definition of Vaseline". The Free Dictionary. Retrieved 7 November 2013.
  2. ^ "Define Vaseline". Retrieved 7 November 2013.
  3. ^ Maljers, Floris A. (September 1992). "Inside Unilever: The Evolving Transnational Company". Harvard Business Review.
  4. ^ The History of Vaseline Petroleum Jelly began in the Pennsylvania Oil Fields!, Drake Well Museum pamphlet, copyright 1996 by Holigan Group Ltd, Dallas, Texas
  5. ^ Webster's Unabridged Dictionary (1913)
  6. ^ a b "Mineralöle in Kosmetika - Kritische Stoffe in Cremes, Lippenpflegeprodukten und Vaseline". (in German). Stiftung Warentest. 26 May 2015. Archived from the original on 26 May 2015.
  7. ^ Adams, Rebecca (21 October 2013). "Petroleum Jelly May Not Be as Harmless as You Think". Huffington Post. Retrieved 26 March 2018.

External linksEdit

  • Official website