Is Vaseline Vegan? What Are The Safest And Most Eco-friendly Alternatives?

We’ve all heard of Vaseline—the original name brand for a (now controversial) product: petroleum jelly. But Vaseline’s products range extends to way more than just variations of that moisturizer. They also have lotions, oils, and serums, a lip balm collection, among many others.

Considering the widespread use of Vaseline’s petroleum jelly and other body care items, it’s important to address a common concern. Is Vaseline vegan?

In answering that question, we will have to consider Vaseline as a whole, not just a particular product. Thus, here’s a quick rundown of what we will answer in this discussion.

  • Is Vaseline vegan? Uncertain. We could not find site guidance on this matter. However, our research is leaning towards Vaseline not being vegan.
  • Is Vaseline certified vegan? No. Only vegan brands can be certified.
  • Is Vaseline (certified) cruelty-free? No. Vaseline does not have an animal testing policy but its parent company does test on animals. Consequently, they hold no valid cruelty-free certifications in that regard.
  • Is Vaseline petroleum jelly vegan? Yes. Vaseline petroleum jelly is vegan, but we would not recommend it for the reasons we will state below.

Is Vaseline Vegan?

When you look up whether Vaseline is vegan or not, you won’t get a clear answer. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to give you a concrete answer as well. And it’s not because we didn’t do our research, WE DID, extensively.

The root cause is that Vaseline does not disclose enough information for us to make a sound conclusion.

On their website, looking up “vegan” yields no results, and so does checking their FAQs—basically, every section of their website shows no sign of the word vegan.

While that does make things a little more difficult, it doesn’t necessarily mean that neither their products nor brands are not considered vegan. We’ve seen plenty of brands that don’t display their vegan status but are actually fully vegan.

So, we took a look at their products to see if there were any animal ingredients on there. And we still couldn’t find a definite answer.

Note: we only checked their US website and they might still have products sold in other countries not listed on there.

They listed many ingredients that MAY come from animal sources, such as stearic acid, glycerin, etc. There’s no guarantee that those come from animal products, but there is no guarantee that they aren’t either.

One very notable ingredient we did find is hydrolyzed keratin. Keratin works to strengthen hair and nails and is mostly derived from animals. There are vegan alternatives, but those aren’t actually made of keratin as there isn’t a synthetic way to replicate it.

For all of those we just mentioned, there was no further explanation on where the ingredient was sourced. Did it come from animals? Plants? Is it synthetic? It is clearly not stated anywhere.

We are not confident in giving out a definitive answer without knowing for certain. More likely than not, it seems clear that Vaseline is not vegan.

Multinational companies like Vaseline and its parent company, Unilever, tend to have incredibly complex supply chains. Because of the intricacies in those supply chains, it is likely that Vaseline does not actually monitor all the sources of their ingredients to verify whether they’re vegan or not.

Is Vaseline Petroleum Jelly Vegan?

Vaseline’s petroleum jelly is useful for a wide array of issues. You can use it as a moisturizing salve, lip balm; it can even soothe skin and reduce itching. But is it vegan?

Alright, so while the Vaseline brand itself may not be vegan, its original flagship product is another story. The Vaseline® Healing Jelly Original is fully vegan. It contains no animal-derived ingredients and is made of 100% USP white petrolatum.

Before the word petrolatum triggers all sorts of red flags, the type Vaseline uses is completely safe for use. Vaseline’s Healing Jelly is rated 1 on EWG [1], using assessments based on toxicity, use restrictions, among others.

We’ll talk way more about how controversial petroleum jelly is in a bit.

However, although Vaseline petroleum jelly may be vegan, there’s no guarantee that it’s not tested on animals. Some vegans would like to only purchase from brands that are both vegan and cruelty-free, so that’s also something you might want to consider.

If you want to buy products whilst ensuring the ethical treatment of animals, it is best to skip Vaseline for now.

Is Petroleum Jelly Harmful?

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Petrolatum has been getting a bad rap lately because it has been linked to increased risks of cancer. But the USP remark signifies that Vaseline uses petrolatum that has been fully refined.

Since petrolatum comes from petroleum, there are some concerns with it being contaminated by polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). For reference, PAHs can be carcinogenic, with both known and probable carcinogens [2].

This is a valid concern and is something you shouldn’t take lightly. However, not all petrolatum behaves the same way. USP white petrolatum is approved safe for use by the FDA. The ones you should be concerned about are unrefined or improperly refined petrolatum.

So does that mean we’re endorsing petrolatum? Not at all. Even if it is technically safe for use, the base material petroleum is still socially and environmentally harmful.

Petroleum is one of the planet’s most used resources [3]. Fossil fuels are used for producing nearly everything you can think of, including plastics. And the oil industry isn’t exactly good for the planet—not to mention all the waste it helps create.

On top of all that, petroleum (crude oil) mining has been the cause of so much indigenous displacement and general harm towards communities over the years.

Oil extraction often occurs in locations with a human population. As a result, the nearby community is heavily affected by the environmental and health ramifications of crude oil mining [4].

So, even though there aren’t health and safety concerns with petrolatum, it is still a problematic substance. Sure, pure, high-grade petroleum jelly isn’t bad for YOU, but it sure negatively affects someone else.

Vaseline's Animal Testing Policy

Upon browsing their website, we found that Vaseline has no policy on animal testing whatsoever. They don’t have information on whether they or their suppliers test on animals or not.

However, Vaseline’s parent company, Unilever has one, so we’ll take a look at that instead. Here’s an excerpt from their policy:

“We do not test our products on animals and are committed to ending animal testing. We use a wide range of non-animal approaches to evaluate the safety of our products for consumers, our workers and the environment…

Occasionally, across Unilever’s broader portfolio of brands, ingredients that we use still have to be tested by suppliers to comply with legal and regulatory requirements in some markets; and some government authorities test certain products on animals as part of their regulations.”

In summary, Unilever does test on animals. However, they own PETA-certified cruelty-free brands such as Dove, Suave, Sunsilk, and around 23 more companies.

But does that mean as a parent company, they can be considered cruelty-free? Nope. They still test on animals across their other brands and ingredients where required by law.

It is interesting to note that Unilever is one of the brands recognized by PETA as a company working towards regulatory change. And unlike some of the other brands that we’ve seen, they actually detail how they’re contributing to alternative testing methods.

We aren’t surprised, though. According to their website, Unilever has 2.5 billion users across 190 countries.

That kind of reach gives them the resources and influence to make systemic change happen. While we’re still on the fence about how ethical the consumer giant is, it is worth noting that they’re positively contributing to the conversation on animal testing (or at least, claiming to).

Read more about their work in ensuring products don’t have to undergo animal testing any longer.

Is Vaseline Cruelty-free?

Considering the previous discussion on animal testing, we can say that Vaseline is not cruelty-free. There is not enough information to attest to the company being free of animal testing.

Moreover, their parent company does conduct animal testing. This is not a direct signifier that Vaseline tested on animals, but Vaseline could easily be one of those brands across their “broader portfolio.”

On top of that, many vegans would not want to purchase from a company with a parent that isn’t cruelty-free. If you want to buy only from a cruelty-free brand, skip that one and focus on slow beauty ambassadors as highlighted in our analysis here on face wash options and here on sunscreens for example.

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Alternatives to Vaseline

Vaseline is primarily known as a moisturizer. It helps with dry patches, small cuts, and even eczema. It’ll even soothe itchy skin almost instantaneously!

It’s a holy grail product for people with eczema as it is cheap, easily accessible, and works well.

But as we’ve established, it is far from the best material to use. Here are some vegan and cruelty-free alternatives to Vaseline jelly and other mineral oils. Most of these are just as cheap as the jelly, so we’ve got you covered.

Shea Butter

Shea butter is an incredibly hydrating ingredient. It’s very commonly used across various cosmetics, and you’re likely to find it in many of your vegan products as well!

You can use shea butter on its own and pinch off a little bit just like you would with petroleum jelly. However, it works best when mixed with other moisturizers and oils so that it’s easier to spread. It is solid at room temperature, so it might be difficult to spread in cold weather.

Depending on what you use petroleum jelly as, you can make it a lip balm, hand cream, and more. Shea butter is best for dry skin and may not work well with acne-prone skin types.

Cocoa Butter

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Cocoa butter is made from the same plant where chocolate comes from, but the two are actually very different! You can use cocoa butter to moisturize dehydrated and chapped skin. However, just like shea, it is pretty heavy, so you don’t want to use it in areas where you’re prone to breaking out.

Since it’s solid at low temperatures but easily melts with some warmth (like in the palm of your hand), it’s great for using as lip balm, a salve, and so many other applications.

You can use it raw alone or combine it with other kinds of butter and oils to create the perfect ultra balm. You can even add some essential oils if you’re comfortable doing so.

However, unrefined cocoa butter will have a distinctly chocolate-like smell, so go for the refined version if you don’t want that. It’s a largely personal choice, but some people claim the refined version loses some properties.

Jojoba Oil

Jojoba oil is another popularly used ingredient in cosmetics. It can be applied on its own directly to the skin, but it can also be combined with other ingredients to create lip balm, moisturizers, sunscreen, and even topical drugs.

It works pretty similarly to our skin’s natural oils, so it’s great at absorbing into your skin. It also has anti-inflammatory properties and is excellent at helping damaged skin barriers [5].

On top of all that, this ingredient is effective even for oily and sensitive skin types.

You can use it by directly applying it onto eczema patches, dry cuticles, irritated skin; you can even substitute it for your lip balm by gently massaging it onto your lips. You can easily buy organic jojoba oil in bulk locally or online.

Coconut Oil

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Coconut oil is great for helping your dry patches along, especially in the colder months when your skin is likely to dry out.

There have also been some studies indicating that coconut oil helps with eczema. So if you’re using petroleum jelly for those itchy spots, it might work for you. One study [6] even shows that virgin coconut oil works better than mineral oils for atopic dermatitis.

However, it does have significant differences from petroleum jelly. And it is definitely not the answer to everything.

For one, coconut oil is highly comedogenic, which means it has a high potential of clogging your pores. In contrast, healing jelly is non-comedogenic and will not clog pores at all. Beware of using this ingredient in acne-prone areas like the face, chest, and back.

Sunflower Seed Oil

Sunflower seed oil is another ingredient on our list of natural emollients. It’s used on both the hair and skin. Here is our complete analysis on vegan hair care that might help you out.

Like the other natural emollients on this list, it’s used as a moisturizer and helps protect your skin from elements. It works with all types of skin, even acne-prone skin! Being non-comedogenic, it won’t clog up your pores.

Because of its high concentration of linoleic acid, it’s used across many types of skincare [5]. There are plenty of vegan products that feature this ingredient.

Olive Oil

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This one might be a bit strange if you haven’t used it before, but olive oil is actually a pretty common skin and hair care component across different cultures [5]. It’s also a neat ingredient to add to your vegan skincare collection.

Olive oil is excellent at reducing skin water loss and thus, improving skin moisturization. The antioxidants in this oil are also good for protecting your skin and keeping it healthy. However, olive oil isn’t great for acne-prone skin. Make sure you don’t apply it in areas where you break out often.

We’re certain there are more great moisturizers you can use as a substitute for petroleum jelly. We’ve got avocado oil, aloe vera, almond oil, rosehip oil, castor oil, and many more plant oils.

With these, you’re not using any animal products, and you can ensure that none of them have been tested on animals.

Final Thoughts

All in all, we can conclude that Vaseline is not vegan and cruelty-free. And while some products might be vegan, we wouldn’t feel comfortable recommending it as Vaseline or petroleum jelly is made from a terrible ingredient.

But there are plenty of homemade and natural substitutes that you can use instead. Trying our Vaseline alternatives above and seeing if they work for you might be a better step than just sticking to Vaseline. We did a similar analysis with Nivea, which has shed some light on a few misconceptions regarding the international brand.

We do wish we could have provided more determinate conclusions, but it just isn’t possible at the moment. Whether you’re at the start of your vegan journey or a veteran in the vegan lifestyle, we hope this article helped you make the most ethical and responsible choice according to your values.

Resources
  1. https://www.ewg.org/skindeep/products/515875-Vaseline_Petroleum_Jelly_2016_formulation/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21845152/
  3. https://bit.ly/2Toq9yd
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6344296/
  5. https://www.mdpi.com/1422-0067/19/1/70/htm
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24320105/
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