Is Vaseline a good face cream?
Q. I know someone who swears by Vaseline as a face cream. What do you think?
A. There are two important differences between the skin on your face and the skin on the rest of your body. First, the skin on the face heals much faster. Cosmetic surgery is possible because facial skin heals so well and so fast, even in older people. Second, facial skin has more pores than skin elsewhere. Pores allow sebum, the oily substance produced by sebaceous glands, to reach the surface. Vaseline is 100% white petrolatum, an ingredient in many skin moisturizers. White petrolatum is a very effective occlusive, a substance that blocks evaporation and can help keep skin moist and supple. But I wouldn’t recommend using it as face cream because it might clog up pores and perhaps make the skin look shiny. There are dozens of face creams. Some are exceedingly expensive. I’m sure they’re very nice creams, but the difference between them and far less expensive products is mainly a matter of marketing. Some face creams also function as sunscreens, which is a good idea because sun exposure is so damaging to the skin. I don’t think there is any particular magic ingredient or mix of ingredients to look for in a face cream. You just want to use something that feels and smells right and isn’t too oily.
— Kenneth Arndt, M.D.
SkinCare Physicians, Chestnut Hill, Mass.
Harvard Health Letter Editorial Board