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Vaseline vs. Petroleum Jelly: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Updated on October 9, 2023
Vaseline is a brand of petroleum jelly, a semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbons used as a topical ointment and lubricant. While petroleum jelly is the general product, Vaseline is a well-known and popular brand.

Key Differences

Vaseline and petroleum jelly are terms often used interchangeably by many individuals due to their closely related functionalities and appearances. Vaseline is essentially a brand name that has become synonymous with petroleum jelly products, akin to how some brands become synonymous with the general product (like Kleenex with tissue). It was first introduced by Robert Augustus Chesebrough, who patented the process of making petroleum jelly in the U.S. in 1872 and subsequently founded the brand Vaseline.
Conversely, petroleum jelly is a generic term, referring to a mixture of mineral oils and waxes, which form a semi-solid jelly-like substance. This substance was discovered to have numerous skin healing properties and, therefore, was incorporated into various skincare products. When considering petroleum jelly, it's relevant to note that Vaseline is not the only product within this category, despite its popular association with it.
Vaseline, due to its prominence and historical impact, became a household name across the globe. As a brand, Vaseline offers petroleum jelly in its pure form but also provides a plethora of other products infused with various additives like aloe vera, cocoa butter, and more. Thus, while discussing Vaseline, it might indicate the traditional petroleum jelly or its derivatives that the brand offers.
In stark contrast, petroleum jelly, when referred to, doesn’t offer that specific distinction in products. It merely pertains to the clear or pale-yellow semi-solid mixture that holds no allegiance to a particular brand. It can be found in various forms, with slight variations in consistency and additional components, across numerous brands and generic store labels.
Despite Vaseline being a brand of petroleum jelly, sometimes the differentiation between the two terms gets blurred, especially in informal conversation. Vaseline has, to a considerable extent, become eponymous with petroleum jelly, causing some to use the terms interchangeably. However, it’s vital to remember that while all Vaseline is petroleum jelly, not all petroleum jelly is Vaseline.
Conclusively, petroleum jelly represents a broad category of skincare and healing products, while Vaseline signifies a particular brand within that category. Consumers might prefer Vaseline for its reputable standing and specific product offerings, while others may opt for alternative brands or unbranded petroleum jelly for varied reasons like cost and availability.

Comparison Chart


A brand of petroleum jelly
A semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbons


Offers variants with additives
Typically available in pure form

Brand Association

Specifically related to a brand
No brand association


May be pricier
Often available in cheaper variants

Popularity and Recognition

Widely recognized
Recognized, but not brand-specific

Vaseline and Petroleum Jelly Definitions


Vaseline is often utilized for its skin-healing properties.
She applied Vaseline to soothe her cracked heels.

Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum jelly is typically translucent and does not contain additional fragrances or colors.
The petroleum jelly was smooth and clear.


Vaseline, originally, refers to a specific brand of petroleum jelly.
She always buys Vaseline for her dry lips.

Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum jelly is often praised for its moisturizing properties.
His hands were softer after using petroleum jelly.


Vaseline sometimes pertains to products with additional ingredients, like aloe.
After sunbathing, she used Vaseline with aloe vera.

Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum jelly can be utilized in numerous applications, even outside of skincare.
She used petroleum jelly to lubricate the door hinge.


Vaseline is recognized globally and has become eponymous with petroleum jelly.
She asked for Vaseline, even though she accepts any brand of petroleum jelly.

Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum jelly is a blend of hydrocarbons used as an ointment and lubricant.
Petroleum jelly can prevent diaper rash.


Vaseline can also be an ingredient in various skincare products.
Vaseline is used in her favorite lotion.

Petroleum Jelly

Petroleum jelly is available from various brands, not only Vaseline.
She bought a store-brand petroleum jelly to save money.


Petroleum jelly.


Any particular kind of petroleum jelly or of any similar lubricant.


(informal) Vaseline glass or the colouring used in making it.


To lubricate with vaseline.
Even at this late date, vaselining will preserve the best of these leathers.


A yellowish translucent substance, almost odorless and tasteless, obtained as a residue in the purification of crude petroleum, and consisting essentially of a mixture of several of the higher members of the paraffin series. It is used as an unguent, and for various purposes in the arts. See the Note under Petrolatum.


A trademarked brand of petroleum jelly


Can I use petroleum jelly as a substitute for Vaseline?

Absolutely, petroleum jelly has similar properties to Vaseline.

Is Vaseline the same as petroleum jelly?

Yes, in popular usage, but technically Vaseline is a brand of petroleum jelly.

Why is Vaseline so widely recognized compared to generic petroleum jelly?

Vaseline has a long history and was one of the first petroleum jelly products available.

Can I use Vaseline or petroleum jelly on my lips?

Yes, both can be used to moisturize and protect lips.

Are there flavored or colored varieties of Vaseline?

Yes, Vaseline offers a variety of products, some with colors and flavors.

How is petroleum jelly made?

It's made by refining a semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbons typically found in oil rigs.

Can I use petroleum jelly on pets?

In small amounts for paw care, yes, but consult a vet for specific uses and alternatives.

What is Vaseline?

Vaseline is a brand name for a variety of skincare products, most famously, petroleum jelly.

Can petroleum jelly be used in making homemade skincare products?

Yes, it is often used as a base in various DIY skincare products.

Can petroleum jelly be used as a hair conditioner?

It can be used to moisturize and tame hair but might be difficult to wash out.

Is Vaseline pricier than regular petroleum jelly?

Often, yes. Vaseline may be pricier due to its brand recognition and specialized products.

Can Vaseline and petroleum jelly be used to treat burns?

For minor burns, yes. But always seek medical advice for serious burns.

Do Vaseline and petroleum jelly have expiry dates?

Yes, check the packaging for expiry information and store accordingly.

Is Vaseline only made of petroleum jelly?

Vaseline brand offers pure petroleum jelly and variants with added ingredients.

Is Vaseline safe to use on all body parts?

Generally yes, but always read the label for specific usage instructions and warnings.

Does petroleum jelly clog pores?

It's non-comedogenic but its thick texture might not be suitable for all skin types.

Can petroleum jelly be used for lubrication in machinery?

It can be used for minor lubrication, but it's not recommended for all mechanical applications.

Are there any ethical concerns related to purchasing Vaseline products?

Some might have concerns regarding petroleum-based products or corporate practices.

Does Vaseline provide any specialized products?

Yes, Vaseline offers products targeted for specific uses like lip care and skin repair.

Can I use petroleum jelly to remove makeup?

Yes, it’s a popular choice for gently removing makeup.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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