The benefits of putting Vaseline®, a brand of petroleum jelly, on eyelashes are somewhat controversial, but in most cases pros concern beauty benefits while cons include clogged pores and allergic reactions. Many people believe that petroleum jelly can condition eyelashes and can help them grow longer, thicker, and stronger; it’s also claimed that the jelly’s moisturizing properties can help the sensitive skin around the eyelid stay smooth and supple. The product is somewhat greasy, however, and is thick enough to block airflow to the skin’s pores. This can cause greasiness and smudging, and can make it hard to evenly apply makeup; in some cases it can also lead to acne and skin reactions.
Moisturizing and Conditioning
Vaseline® contains several moisturizing emollients and humectants that have the ability to moisten the skin and condition human hair follicles. The jelly is popular as a lip balm for this reason, and many believe that it can also make individual lashes grow stronger and healthier by sealing in moisture and improving the strength of the cellular bonds that make up each strand. It should be noted that none of the jelly’s listed ingredients has ever been proved to cause hair to grow any longer, faster, or thicker, but softening and conditioning the eyelashes may prevent breakage. In turn, this allows the eyelashes to grow to a longer than usual length. For people with dry, brittle eyelashes, the extra conditioning may make a noticeable difference.
Some people lightly dab Vaseline® on eyelashes in place of mascara for a less dramatic “day look.” The jelly can help the lashes appear longer and thicker which can make the eyes look wider, but without the use of actual makeup. Others apply a very thin layer to both the eyelashes and eyelid, providing a sticky base for eye makeup. Mixing a bit of powered shadow or rouge with the jelly can create something of an “eye gloss” that can help makeup stick to the lashes and lids more effectively. This is intended to allow the makeup to last longer, but some women who have tried it complain that it causes the makeup to smear. Putting mascara on over Vaseline® is often particularly problematic.
Vaseline® is sometimes used as a low cost makeup remover because of how well makeup sticks to it. Stubborn mascara or eyeliner can often be taken off relatively easily by dabbing a bit of jelly onto the problem areas, then finishing with a mild soap and warm water.
Greasiness and Pore Problems
Greasiness is one of the biggest cons of Vaseline® on eyelashes. The substance is thick and goopy, which can sometimes cause the lashes to clump together. This can make it difficult to see clearly and also may prevent the eyes from blinking regularly if worn too thickly.
The jelly can also clog pores on the eyelid. Pores naturally open and close in response to moisture levels and environmental triggers, and when they can’t do this because of blockage the oils that the skin naturally secretes can become trapped below the surface, causing acne or itchy rashes. Additionally, it is possible that Vaseline® could clog tear ducts and other glands, causing eye irritation, styes, or a number of other problems.
Allergic reactions to Vaseline® are rare but possible. People with really sensitive skin tend to be most at risk, and in these cases it’s often a good idea to apply a bit of the jelly to the back of the hand or other area of skin away from the eye to test for reactions. As with any foreign substance, there is always a risk of eye irritation. Before applying any new substance near the eyes, one should always check the list of ingredients for anything to which he or she might be allergic.
Tips and Tricks
The best way to apply Vaseline® to eyelashes is usually to use a cotton swab, a lash brush, or a cleaned mascara wand. Using the fingertips can work, but usually only if the hands are freshly cleaned; transferring oils from the hands to the eyes can cause problems where Vaseline® is concerned, since the jelly can seal those oils onto the skin, which makes irritation and reaction more likely.
People often find it best to apply the jelly at night, too, letting moisturizing and conditioning happen during sleep when the eyes are still. This way even if the jelly causes the eye area to look greasy and shiny it won’t be a problem. Some people also claim that allowing it to work overnight helps them wake up looking more refreshed and rested.