Petroleum jelly is a mixture of mineral oil and hard paraffins. It is obtained from the residues from the distillation of oil, of course, followed by purification. This component has – like the devil – a hundred names, which can confuse buyers. Petroleum jelly, 100% white petrolatum, soft paraffin, multi-hydrocarbon are all names for the same ingredient and are identified under the same CAS number 8009-03-8. Unilever, the company behind the Vaseline brand, claims that only they use the highest quality raw materials and only their processes meet the highest purification and filtration standards. But it is, of course, impossible to verify these statements and compare with other companies.
In the classic can of the Vaseline brand, there is only one component – 100% White Petrolatum. Inside there is a transparent, viscous, colorless mass without taste and smell, lumps and inclusions, easily stretching into threads. Depending on the degree of purification, petroleum jelly can be colorless or with a light yellow tint.
Does one brand of petroleum jelly differ from another? In terms of consistency, smoothness or even aroma, a product of the same Vaseline brand may differ slightly from other brands, but the occlusive properties – that is, the ability of a component to create a film on the skin and retain moisture – or this is unlikely to affect the level of safety. For the latter, at least in the US, the FDA will be vigilant. Perhaps it will differ in the degree of purification (Vaseline, for example, performs a triple, which is incredibly proud of), but this is impossible to verify. Supplements can vary too. For example, the composition of the Nevskaya Cosmetics brand petroleum jelly contains mineral oil, several structure-forming agents and fragrances, and the 100 Beauty Recipes brand petroleum jelly uses liquid paraffin, which is thickened with ceresin and paraffin. The Tula Pharmaceutical Factory contains only one component – petroleum jelly, which contains mineral oil by default. Essentially the same white petrolatum found in the original Vaseline can.
Should I give preference to any particular Vaseline? In a sense, the products of the American brand will really be more pleasant than the classic pharmacy ones – they added components to soften the texture; a variety of fragrances and additional ingredients such as aloe extract or cocoa butter. But remember that petroleum jelly is present not only in lotions and creams of the American brand, but also in a huge number of other brands.