Vaseline is the original, name brand for petroleum jelly, and there shouldn’t be a difference between Vaseline and other generic brands, however, Unilever claims that they only use high-quality ingredients and a special purification and filtration process.
Vaseline doesn’t contain any animal ingredients, so from that standpoint alone, the product could be considered vegan. However, some of the ingredients in Vaseline may be tested on animals to follow regulatory compliance, which would make the product not vegan. Additionally, some vegans may also avoid Vaseline because it’s made from fossil fuels and is owned by Unilever, a company that isn’t particularly friendly to animals.
In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about Vaseline and whether or not you should avoid it as someone that is strictly vegan.
What Does It Mean To Be Vegan?
Vegans typically become vegan because of three different reasons:
- Ethical reasons (because they want to protect sentient beings);
- Environmental reasons (to prevent climate change, global warming, etc);
- Health reasons (because of the positive link between plant foods and overall health).
Despite these reasons, the definition is always evolving and encompassing different causes, and while I’ve become vegan for ethical reasons, I’ve also extended that compassion to other causes, for example, I try not to purchase food or clothing from companies that often resort to slave-like labor.
For most people, a vegan is someone that doesn’t eat:
- meat (including poultry, fish, squid, or even insects) ;
- or other ingredients that may derive from animals.
Vegans also typically avoid products that are tested on animals or that might negatively impact the environment, even though the ingredients themselves might derive from a plant.
There isn’t a right or wrong way of being vegan, it’s just that among vegans you will find that each person has their own conviction, so their tolerance for the different aspects of veganism also varies.
What’s important is that we make an effort to protect animals, and help the planet while we’re at it.
Vaseline Is Technically Vegan
There are various brands of petroleum jelly, but Vaseline is generally the most popular.
Vaseline contains petroleum jelly, and that’s what you will find in most brands. It is a mixture of mineral oils and wax, therefore the product doesn’t contain animal ingredients.
However, some vegans have an issue with it because it’s a byproduct of the oil refining process, which means it’s not sustainable or eco-friendly.
Before you grab a product like Vaseline, look for these few things:
- Check the package for a vegan certificate (or just the ‘vegan’ word);
- Look for a cruelty-free certificate (or something that shows you they don’t test on animals)
- See if there are animal derivatives, such as beeswax;
Typically, food items have allergens listed, but a product like petroleum jelly won’t have it, so be sure to check the full list of ingredients, and whether you can find certificates demonstrating that no animals were harmed in the making of the product.
READ NEXT: Is Aquaphor Vegan? Here’s What I Found Out!
Is Vaseline Cruelty-Free?
Unfortunately, Vaseline doesn’t qualify as a cruelty-free product, mainly because it’s owned by Unilever.
Unilever is a huge company that owns 400 different brands including Dove, Heartbrand, Magnum, Cornetto, Ben & Jerry’s, Hellman’s, and Comfort. Brands connected to the dairy industry are automatically associated with animal cruelty, either because they use animal ingredients or conduct animal testing.
Unilever has released the following statement, which suggests they don’t conduct animal testing:
“As part of our commitment to ending animal testing, we have a growing number of brands that ensure that neither their products – nor the ingredients they use – are subject to animal testing by suppliers or by regulatory authorities. These brands’ commitment to no animal testing is certified by animal welfare groups.”
However, the statement did also read:
“Occasionally, across our portfolio, some of the ingredients we use have to be tested by our suppliers to comply with legal and regulatory requirements in some markets; and some governments test certain products on animals as part of their regulations.”
So, while it appears that Unilever is working to end animal testing in cosmetics, food, and household cleaning products, they still commercialize products in countries where animal testing is required, and they still have not released information suggesting they might cut off testing on some of the ingredients.
Therefore, Vaseline is owned by a company that conducts animal testing, and although that does not necessarily mean that Vaseline is always tested on animals, that practice may occur in certain countries, namely China, where animal testing is mandatory, and where Vaseline is also sold.
Is Vaseline Bad For The Environment?
Some vegans are concerned about the petroleum jelly in vaseline.
Petroleum jelly is one of the thousands of products that are derived from the refining of crude oil, a non-renewable source, or a form of energy that runs out or can’t be replenished in our lifetime.
Fossil fuels are revered as a valuable source of energy; they’re inexpensive and can be stored, piped, or shipped anywhere in the world.
However, they’re quite harmful to the environment. When coal and oil are burned, they release particles capable of polluting the air, water, and land. They also upset the Earth’s carbon budget, which balances the carbon in the ocean, land, and atmosphere.
When carbon dioxide is released into the atmosphere, there is a greenhouse effect, a process that sustains life on Earth but only if it’s balanced. If we merely release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, we’ll experience a rise in temperature that not all organisms will be able to adapt to.
Therefore, even though there are worse products than petroleum jelly, it’s still not an eco-friendly option.
Is Vaseline Healthy?
Unfortunately, Vaseline or petroleum jelly is not the healthiest product.
It creates the illusion that you have moisturized skin, but many experts compare it to putting a plastic wrap around your skin. It can make your skin feel moisturized momentarily, but it’s not a good long-term solution, particularly if you want to avoid potential skin problems.
Petroleum jelly is not water-soluble; it’s water-repellant, so it forms a barrier around your skin, trapping the moisture below it. Alongside moisture, it also traps toxins, dirt, and other contaminants.
Therefore, if you want to truly moisturize your skin, and not damage it, then you should look for other alternatives that actually moisturize your skin.
Most vegans probably use vaseline without batting an eye. As long as they’re not causing animal suffering along the way, they’re fine with using polyester or any other sub-product that may have environmental repercussions.
But if you’re not “most vegans”, and you’re willing to go the extra mile— here are a few homemade and natural vaseline replacements:
- Cocoa, shea, or mango butter;
- Aloe vera;
- Coconut oil;
- Carnauba wax.
In addition to these homemade ingredients, there are commercially available products that are vegan and do not test on animals.
Here’s a short list of natural and petroleum-free products:
- RMS Beauty Coconut Cream
- Goe Oil
- Lush’s Ultra Balm
Let’s take a quick look at each product and see what they have to offer.
RMS Beauty Coconut Cream
If you happen to suffer from eczema, you will find some relief in applying this coconut oil. This product is solely comprised of coconut oil, so it contains both the enzymes and nutrients your skin needs to nourish itself.
Another positive aspect is that it can be applied to any part of the body without feeling too greasy.
Feel free to find it on Amazon.
This product is lighter than butter, lasts longer than a moisturizer, and absorbs faster. Goe Oil is a combination of 28 plants, fruit, flower oils, and kinds of butter. Don’t worry, every single ingredient on the label is plant-based, and is petroleum-free.
You can spread it all over your body and feel what it’s like to have baby skin all over again.
Goe Oil is available on Amazon.
Lush’s Ultra Balm
Lush’s Ultra Balm is made of organic jojoba oil, candela wax, and rose wax. You can quickly verify from the ingredients that it is vegan and from the “vegan” certificate on the package.
This product is available on Revolve.com.
Based on the ingredients alone, Vaseline could be considered vegan, as it does not contain any animal ingredients.
However, according to the brand, some of the ingredients within the product must be tested on animals in order to comply with regulations. As you would expect, this makes the product not vegan.
On top of that, this product is also not eco-friendly because it’s made from fossil fuels, and the multinational that owns Vaseline is also known for being “unethical” on different fronts.
Other Frequently Asked Questions
Does Vaseline Expire?
While Vaseline or other petroleum jelly brands frequently have a “best by date” of three years, it can last up to ten years or even longer after being opened.
If you want it to last longer, try not to stick your fingers into the jar as you may introduce potentially harmful bacteria or fungi that may reduce its lifespan.
Is Vaseline Flammable?
Despite the brand saying that Vaseline is not flammable, it is actually flammable, however, it’s engineered to have a higher ignition temperature so that a spark or cigarette you may smoke doesn’t set your lips on fire in case you decide to use Vaseline as a lip balm. In fact, Vaseline is used in many cases in commercial fire starters.
Is Petroleum Vegan?
Petroleum (also known as crude oil) is technically vegan because no animals were harmed in the production process, plus, it is made from dead organisms that lived in the sea millions of years ago, such as algae and microscopic zooplankton.