The many uses of Vaseline

Vaseline is one of those products that have brought so many benefits, yet its origins have probably been forgotten by most of us. Before Vaseline was even thought about, vegetable and animals oils were used for centuries as ointments or salves but the biggest problem with these oils was that their condition deteriorated quickly after application.

The next development came during the oil boom in the early nineteenth century. Workers discovered that grease extracts from the ground could be used as an effective skin treatment. Known as rock oil, it had the advantage of neither decomposing nor emitting a bad odour. Earlier, workers realised that grease accumulating around the structure of their oil wells seemed to cleanse their injuries that much faster.

When the refined product we know now as Vaseline was introduced, it became popular very quickly. As a common skin conditioner, it was excellent especially for skin ailments resulting from dryness or dehydration.

In fact it worked a little too well and women in particular need to be careful about its application. If applied incorrectly, it can promote hair growth and this can be inappropriate for some women. For example, it is excellent as a lip balm but generally should only be applied to the lower lip.

There have been some well publicized accounts of unforeseen consequences through the incorrect application of Vaseline; Marilyn Monroe used the product excessively as a skin conditioner and had problems with the growth of unwanted facial hair.

A class action was brought by a group of women in 2004 claiming Vaseline caused growth of excessive amounts of facial hair. The case was dismissed but the manufacturers would no doubt have been encouraged to display warnings about correct usage on their Vaseline containers.