Searching for the best alternatives to Aquaphor or petroleum jelly? I got you! For most of us, Aquaphor and Vaseline are household names. All purpose fix all ointments for chapped lips or diaper rashes, recommended by many healthcare professionals. There is a lot of chatter about petroleum derived products not being properly refined. This could lead to contamination with carcinogenic substances. I’ll get into the details below, but this made me begin searching for safe alternatives to Aquaphor and Petroleum jelly when I had my daughter in 2020. And now here I am again looking for more options with my son in 2023. So let’s dive into why I choose to avoid most petroleum derived products in favor of cleaner alternatives to Aquaphor and petroleum jelly.

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Here are my top 6 alternatives to Aquaphor and petroleum jelly: 

Here are another 5 great clean options to test out too that are affordable and easy to find! 

Other alternatives to Aquaphor and petroleum jelly (I just haven’t tested myself, but would absolutely purchase next):

What is Aquaphor? 

Aquaphor is made up of the following: 

  • Active ingredient: Petrolatum (41%) – Skin protectant
  • Inactive ingredients: Mineral Oil (petroleum derived), Ceresin (derived from ozokerite a naturally occurring mineral wax), Lanolin Alcohol (derived from lanolin, obtained from sheeps wool), Panthenol (vitamin B5), Glycerin (animal or vegetable oil derived), Bisabolol (from German chamomile). 

Aquaphor uses:

  • It serves as a protective barrier for dry chapped skin and helps skin heal. 

My thoughts on Aquaphor:

  • Honestly, there’s not much wrong with the ingredients here except the petroleum derived products. The petrolatum and the mineral oil, are the main issue for me. 
  • The website doesn’t have an FAQ section or any comments on the ingredient purity anywhere that I can find. 
  • Companies that aren’t transparent with their ingredients, sourcing, refinement process etc, are ones that I would be more hesitant to use. 
  • I don’t personally choose to use this product.

What is Petroleum Jelly?

Petroleum jelly is made up of:

  • 100% white petrolatum (a blend of mineral oils and waxes) derived from petroleum.

Petroleum jelly uses:

  • Petroleum jelly, like Aquaphor, serves as a protective barrier for dry chapped skin and helps skin heal. It just has one ingredient whereas Aquaphor has multiple ingredients.

My thoughts on petroleum jelly:

  • Discovered in 1859 by Robert Chesebrough, the jelly-like wax left on the oil pumping equipment was termed “rod wax.” This was sometimes used by workers to help remedy cuts and burns. He later coined the brand name Vaseline.
    • Of note, Vaseline brand does state in their FAQ that they do have a proprietary triple-purification process, to be free of contaminants. I just don’t see any further detail on this. But this is reassuring that they have a stringent refinement process in place to ensure safety.
    • I would feel good using Vaseline brand. 
  • Generic petrolatum products I would have to go to the brand/company website and see if they comment on their purification process. I think in general it is hard to vet if all companies have the same refinement process as Vaseline brand. 
  • When used in pharmaceuticals, it should be USP grade meeting FDA requirements for safety. 
  • I believe the European Union classifies petrolatum as carcinogenic (source) and requires refinement history and proof of no carcinogenic contaminants for use in cosmetics (source). 
  • Credo Beauty, one of my favorite trusted clean beauty retailers, encourages brands to use alternatives to petroleum derived ingredients when they can. If they choose to use them, they must obtain certificates of analysis proving no contamination if they do use any (source). 

Why choose to switch to an alternative to Aquaphor or petroleum jelly?

Let’s start with how is petrolatum and mineral oil made:

  • Again, petrolatum is obtained by refinement of petroleum, aka natural crude oil and base for gasoline, kerosene and diesel oil. Chemically, petrolatum is a mixture of hydrocarbons(source). 
  • With proper refinement, petrolatum has no negative health effects and theoretically should be free of contaminants. 
  • However, there is a risk of contamination with PAHs with improper refinement. 

What are Polyaromatic Hydrocarbons (PAHs):

  • Polyaromatic hydrocarbons or PAHs, are carcinogenic compounds that can be found in petroleum derived products. They occur naturally in coal, gasoline, and crude oil. 
  • We are exposed to many PAHs, such as exhaust from cars, wood and cigarette smoke, charred/grilled meats and foods. It can also pass through our skin. 
  • The CDC found in their National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) conducted in 2003-2004 that most of the 2,504 participants ages 6+ had PAHs in their urine, indicating widespread exposure (source)
  • Carcinogenicity is well established in lab animals. Chronic occupational exposure in humans may be associated with increased incidence of some cancers (source)
  • A 2021 meta-analysis published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found an increased incidence of many cancers in people who worked in the petroleum industry or lived in oil producing communities (source).
  • If a company does use petroleum derived products, you can see if they obtained certificates of analysis to address any contamination concerns. 
  • I have written to companies to ask about their ingredients many times if I can’t find what I am looking for on their FAQ or ingredient pages. If I get a detailed response, perfect! If I get a response that beats around the bush, that’s a pass for me. 

Would I use petroleum derived products? 

  • The simple answer, I try to avoid them.
  • With petrolatum being derived from oil and the potential for contamination, I do usually try to choose other products when and where I can.
  • That being said, if a company does third party testing for contamination, and says they are free of contaminants, that works for me!
    • Vaseline has a triple-purification process to help ensure there are no contaminants. 
    • Aquaphor’s website doesn’t even have an FAQ section so I don’t know about their ingredient sourcing. This is kind of a red flag for me when companies don’t have even a simple FAQ section or learn more section!
  • When it comes to pharmaceuticals, being a pharmacist, I know most ointments have a petrolatum base. There are a ton of generic topical ointment manufacturers. I did not go down that rabbit hole to learn about their ingredient sourcing.
    • If I need a prescription medicated ointment I am going to use it. I have to trust that the USP grade white petrolatum in pharmaceuticals is refined properly here.  
    • For over the counter topical medications, I try to screen for the ones with the least amount of ingredients. I avoid what I can such as parabens, dyes and fragrances. 
    • If you need an ointment, in my opinion, the benefits of treating your injury or rash or whatever it may be outweighs the risks of contamination with PAHs for a temporary treatment. 
  • If you are treating something chronic such as eczema, rosacea or other skin condition, or using something daily on your lips, or skin, I do believe there are better alternatives. Being exposed to potential carcinogens on a regular basis to me is potentially more harmful over time if you can’t vet the company of the product you’re using.

So if you’re looking for an alternative to Aquaphor or Petroleum Jelly – I got you covered!

Here are my top 6 alternatives to Aquaphor and Petroleum Jelly:

Best multi-purpose alternative to Aquaphor or Petroleum Jelly:

Pipette baby balm:

pipette baby balm texture
  • Ingredients: Squalane, Hydroxystearic/Linolenic/Oleic Polyglycerides, Jojoba Esters, Rhus Verniciflua Peel Cera, Glyceryl Behenate/Eicosadioate, Punica Granatum (Pomegranate) Sterols, Tocopherol (Vitamin E).
    • EWG verified
  • Texture: the perfect dupe for petroleum jelly in my opinion – melts immediately upon contact with skin, provides a luscious moisture but also protective barrier
  • Favorite use: literally anything from diaper changes to chapped lips, cuticles, skin “slugging,” it truly is all purpose and truly is a steal for the cost
  • Scent: none
  • Cost/size: $9.99 / 2oz, $6.99 / 0.5oz balm stick, $5 / 0.5oz mini jar  
  • Would repurchase? Yes, I now have 2 larger jars and a mini travel in the diaper bag

Maya Chia Supercritical Chia Waterless Wonder Balm:

  • Ingredients: Butyrosperumum Parkii Butter, Salvia, Hispanica (Supercritical Chia) Oil, *Prunus Armenica (Apricot) Kernel Oil, *Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Oil, Beeswax, Tocopherol (Non-GMO Vitamin E), 2% Essential Oils and Botanical Extracts
  • Texture: waxy/semi-solid but melts in your hands
  • Favorite use: hands/cuticles, dry rough patches on skin/elbows/knees
  • Scent: orange blossom, light not too overpowering
  • Cost/size: $42 / 2oz 
  • Would repurchase? I do really love this balm but I do love the 8 faces (below) so much that I kind of replaced this with that over time as I use the 8 faces so much more regularly 

Best alternatives to Aquaphor and petroleum jelly for face, lips and hands: 

8 Faces Boundless Solid Oil

  • Ingredients: Garcinia Indica Seed Butter*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter*, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil*, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Phyllanthus Emblica (Amla) Fruit Extract*, Orbignya Oleifera (Babassu) Seed Oil*, Theobroma cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter*, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil*, Camellia Oleifera Seed Oil*, Citrus Reticulata Peel Oil, Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Peel Oil, Tocopherol, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil*, Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil*, Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil*, Hippophae Rhamnoides (Sea Buckthorn) Fruit Oil*, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil* * Denotes certified organic ingredient. ** Ingredients may vary based on availability.
  • Texture: a solid balm, melts instantly in your hands, applies best to damp skin
  • Favorite use: on top of toner or water on face as daily moisturizer, base for makeup, under eyes, neck, lips, chapped nose/lips, cuticles, hands – literally cannot live without this.
    • This has been my sole moisturizer in a trip to Europe in the winter including snowboarding in the Alps – my skin was protected from the cold hard weather, rain, snow, all the things. 
  • Scent: it’s a little lavender/floral with hints of citrus, earthy without being too earthy if that makes sense – it’s grounding and relaxing, calming/soothing
  • Cost/size: $88 / 50mL (about 1.6 oz) 
  • Would repurchase? YES, a thousand times YES. I have 2 jars on standby at all times for the past few years. It’s THAT GOOD.

Tubby Todd All Over Ointment

  • Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Stearic Acid, Propanediol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetyl Alcohol, Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate, Jojoba Esters, Stearyl Alcohol, Beeswax, Lonicera Caprifolium (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Lonicera Japonica (Honeysuckle) Flower Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract*, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract*, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Fruit Extract*, Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Fruit Extract*. *Organic ingredients
  • Texture: this is a thicker cream/ointment texture. It’s greasy and thick to apply, and can be harder to rub in completely. I purposefully apply thicker and don’t rub in, and let it work it’s magic.  
  • Favorite use: any dry/red patches of skin, cradle cap, baby acne, dry hands, it’s really a dream redness is usually gone like overnight!
  • Scent: none 
  • Cost/size: $20 / 3.5oz, $36 / 8oz 
  • Would repurchase? YES – I have a few jars around the house from my daughter and now new ones with my son

Erbaviva lip and cheek

  • Ingredients: *Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, *Beeswax, *Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, *Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter), *Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil , *Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil, *Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, *Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, *Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, *Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil. *denotes certified organic ingredient. **denotes component of certified organic ingredient.
  • Texture: a solid balm, takes a moment to warm up against skin to slide smoothly, comes in stick form
  • Favorite use: irritated skin from baby/toddler wiping their noses, chapped nose from blowing nose, dry cheeks from wind/irritation, lip balm
  • Scent: herbaceous/medicinal, lavender undertone
  • Cost/size: $13 / 0.6oz tube, $6 / 0.16oz tube
  • Would repurchase? YES, I keep one in my daughters backpack, one by the sink and one in her room on her dresser. Works geat, I use it too when I have a runny nose and irritate my skin from tissues

Best Aquaphor alternative for diaper changes: 

La Petite Creme diaper balm

  • Ingredients: Organic beeswax, water, organic olive oil, limestone, vitamin E.
    • EWG verified
  • Texture: thicker waxy/oily lotion 
  • Favorite use: baby diaper rash prevention and treatment 
  • Scent: none
  • Cost/size: $19.99 / 4oz, $9.99 / 1oz
  • Would repurchase? Yes, I have a couple of these little jars, I use it occasionally on my baby’s bum once they start sleeping longer stretches or I see some redness and works well! Goes great with my diapering lotion I also use from this company.

I would also toss the Pipette Baby Balm into this category – I put it under multi-purpose but definitely wanted to mention it here too!

Other non-toxic alternatives to Aquaphor and petroleum jelly that I haven’t tried but would trust: 

These all have ingredients rich in hydrating and soothing oils and butters and gentle extracts, there are so many great alternatives to try! 

All of these are mainly multi-purpose balms that could be used in place of petroleum jelly or for baby face/nose/cheek! 

Alba un-petroleum jelly 

  • Ingredients: Ricinus communis (castor) seed oil, Helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed Oil, Beeswax/Cera Alba, Tocopherol Acetate

Badger Balm baby balm

  • Ingredients: Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Organic Castor Oil, Organic Beeswax, Organic Chamomile Oil and Organic Calendula Flower Extract

Whole Foods Jelly unpetroleum

  • Ingredients: Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Organic Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Organic Tapioca Starch, Organic Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Centella Asiatica (Gotu Kola) Extract, Tocopherol (Vitamin E)

Earth Mama organics baby face nose and cheek balm

  • Ingredients: Organic Sunflower (Helianthus Annuus) Seed Oil, Organic Beeswax (Cera Alba), Organic Coconut (Cocos Nucifera) Oil, Organic Shea (Butyrospermum Parkii) Butter, Organic Calendula (Calendula Officinalis) Flower Extract

Honest all purpose balm

  • Ingredients: Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Beeswax (Cera Alba)*, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter*, Calophyllum Inophyllum Seed Oil*, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil *, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract*, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Oil*, Tocopherol, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Sterols, Squalane, Citric Acid

Final Thoughts

I hope this list of alternatives to Aquaphor and Petroleum Jelly was helpful! I do try to avoid petroleum products and mineral oils when I can. For things I use regularly on a daily basis or on my babies, I will likely choose something from the list above, just to be on the cautious side. However, based on my research, Vaseline would be my top pick for pure 100% white petrolatum, if I were to use it. Aquaphor I know is a household staple as well for many, and if you love it, that’s great! I would need to do a little more digging and see if the company will divulge their refinement history or little more information since they just don’t have a robust website and a non-existent FAQ section. I’ll see what more I can find out! I think it’s important for companies to be fully transparent. All of the brands I have listed above I know, like and trust. 

I hope this was insightful and that you learned something new, and I hope if you try any of the products I recommended you’ll let me know how it went! 

Xo – Sarah