When it comes to occlusives, there are two top contenders–Aquaphor and Vaseline.
If you’re accustomed to the #sluglife, you probably have a die-hard favorite already.
If not, keep reading to find out which troupe you belong to.
In This Corner–Vaseline
Vaseline is the OG occlusive. Ever since its debut (140 years ago), it’s been a staple in pretty much every household on the planet. And, that’s because it can cure everything from cracked heels to diaper rash.
Sure, it might only have one real ingredient. But, sometimes the simpler solution is the better solution. Am I right?
Full ingredients list:
White petroleum jelly (99.96%), Fragrance.
Petroleum jelly (aka petrolatum): A non-comedogenic jelly-like substance with occlusive superpowers. What’s an occlusive? Well, that’s simple. It’s like a protective layer that prevents water from evaporating from your skin.
In That Corner–Aquaphor
Despite what some of you might think. Aquaphor is not (and I repeat, NOT) Vaseline.
Okay. It might have piggy-backed on Vaseline’s staple ingredient–petroleum jelly. But, it holds its own in terms added benefits. Meaning it can do things above and beyond occlusion.
Full list of ingredients:
Petrolatum (41%), Mineral Oil, Ceresin, Lanolin Alcohol, Panthenol, Glycerin, Bisabolol
Petrolatum: See above.
Lanolin Alcohol: An emollient derived from lanolin (i.e. the sebaceous glands of sheep). While it’s super moisturizing, it’s also ever-so-slightly comedogenic.
Glycerin: A strong humectant that attracts and binds moisture to your skin’s surface layer.
Panthenol: Derived from Vitamin B5, panthenol is a two-fold ingredient. It’s both a skin conditioning agent (meaning, it’ll keep you moisturized and plump) and a humectant.
Bisabolol: This substance can be found in chamomile oil. It’s known as a penetration enhancer, which means it can help products get into your skin. But, beware. It’s also somewhat of an allergen.
What’s The Difference?
Some people are convinced that Vaseline and Aquaphor are the same thing.
While they might share some similarities, they’re totally different in my book.
Let me try to explain.
Difference #1: Ingredients & Function
Vaseline – 99.96% petroleum jelly
Aquaphor – 41% petroleum jelly
That’s a big difference. But does it really matter?
Vaseline only contains one ingredient (aside from fragrance), so it’s inevitably tied to one main purpose–that of occlusion.
Don’t get me wrong. I love a good occlusive and Vaseline is a GREAT one at that.
But, when I use a product, I want it to multitask. And, that’s just not something that Vaseline can do.
Aquaphor, on the other hand, has got you (and me) covered. Its ingredients embrace the trifecta of moisturizers–emollients, humectants, and occlusives.
Difference #2: Price
Sometimes a utilitarian product (without added fluff) is all you need to keep your dry skin at bay. And since money doesn’t grow on trees, that utilitarian product will also serve as a more cost-effective product.
I think you know where I’m going with this. So, I’ll come out and say it.
Vaseline is cheaper.
It’s not only cheaper, but it’s usually half the price (or more) of its competitor, Aquaphor. So, if you’re frugal, you might want to stick with this tried-and-true basic.
Difference #3: Application
Vaseline is a pure occlusive. That means it won’t sink into your skin. It’ll just sit on top of it. And, when you slather it onto your face, you (+ your pillow) will turn into a greaseball.
With Aquaphor, you’ll still turn into a greaseball. You’re just a little less so. That’s because it has other moisturizing ingredients that’ll somewhat sink into your skin.
Beyond that, Aquaphor has a better texture. It’s easier to spread on your skin thanks to its added ingredients (shoutout to glycerin and lanolin).
Difference #4: Irritation
A couple of Aquaphor’s ingredients can be…problematic.
First up is lanolin alcohol, a fatty-alcohol (yes, a “good” alcohol) derived from sheep’s sebaceous glands. According to CosDNA, it scores a 2 on the comedogenic scale. That means it’s a “moderately low” risk. But moderately low for one person might be breakout-inducing for another.
Next up is bisabolol. The thing is, Aquaphor is pretty commonly prescribed to kids to treat eczema, but sometimes it can worsen their condition. One study suggests that bisabolol is the culprit behind the allergic reactions.
What about petroleum jelly?
Actually, petroleum jelly is non-comedogenic and hypoallergenic. So, it’s as safe as can be when it comes to skincare ingredients. Whoopee!
Aquaphor Vs. Vaseline: The Winner
It’s officially a tie. But, guess what? I’m tipping the scales.
I hereto dub Aquaphor as the reigning champ of this showdown! Hey, it’s a multi-duty product and it feels better on my skin.
Of course, it comes down to personal preference. So, if you’re worried about allergies or you want to nab the better deal, I won’t throw shade on you for choosing Vaseline.
I wrote another post comparing Aquaphor and Neosporin—read it here.