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Does petroleum jelly darken skin; A myth or the truth?

Petroleum jelly, also known as petrolatum, is a semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbons, a fossil fuel frequently used as a moisturizer, lubricant, makeup remover, and even a treatment for minor burns and cuts, as well as a skin protector. It has been used for years in several skincare products and is cheap, widely accessible, and readily available.

Petroleum jelly’s effects on the skin, particularly allegations that it might darken it, have drawn some criticism. We shall examine “Does Petroleum jelly darkens skin or not” in this article, the veracity of these assertions, and what the science has to say regarding petroleum jelly’s effects on the skin.

Does petroleum jelly darken skin?

Petroleum jelly is frequently used to make skin harmed by the sun or other environmental conditions look better. According to numerous research, petroleum jelly has little impact on skin pigmentation or skin darkening. There is no scientific backing for the misconception that petroleum jelly can make skin darker.

Petroleum jelly is an occlusive agent, which creates a hurdle on the skin that can retain moisture and other substances, which may be the basis for the theory that it can darken the skin. Some individuals might believe that this barrier can stop the skin from breathing, which can cause darkening. There isn’t any proof, though, that this is the case.

According to 2 studies published in the Journal of Dermatological Treatment and the Journal of Cosmetic Science, volunteers were examined to see how petroleum jelly affected their skin’s pigmentation. The researchers concluded that there was no discernible variation in skin pigmentation.

Why is it believed that petroleum jelly darkens skin?

People may think petroleum jelly darkens skin for several reasons, including:


Petroleum jelly creates a barrier on the skin that can obstruct airflow and cause pores to get clogged. This may make the appearance that the skin is darker because it can lead to acne and other skin issues.


Using petroleum jelly excessively or in conjunction with other products can cause skin irritation and inflammation. The skin may seem darker or discolored as a result of this.

Sun exposure

Since petroleum jelly does not include sunscreen, it cannot shield the skin from the sun’s damaging rays. Overexposure to the sun can result in skin darkening, and some people might believe that petroleum jelly is to blame.


It is widely believed, and has been handed down through the years, that petroleum jelly can darken the complexion. People who have had bad experiences with petroleum jelly or who have heard tales about its purported detrimental effects may be the ones who spread this misconception.

Benefits of Petroleum Jelly in Skincare

For the skin, petroleum jelly has a number of benefits including:

Benefits of Petroleum Jelly in Skincare
  • Petroleum jelly is non-comedogenic, so persons with oily or acne-prone skin can use it without worrying about it clogging their pores.
  • Petroleum jelly can shield the skin from wind, heat, and cold. It creates a barrier on the skin’s surface to stop these elements from drying out the skin or harming it.
  • Petroleum jelly makes a fantastic moisturizer for dry, chapped skin. It creates a defensive barrier on the skin’s surface, stopping water loss and maintaining skin hydration.
  • Petroleum jelly has soothing qualities that can help relieve irritated and itchy skin. Oil jelly can reduce skin inflammation and rashes. It can be used to reduce the signs of disorders like diaper rash, eczema, and psoriasis.
  • Petroleum jelly has healing characteristics that can aid in the recovery of minor burns, cuts, and other skin wounds. It serves as a defense mechanism that keeps the damage from contracting an infection and aids in hastening healing.

Despite its many advantages, petroleum jelly shouldn’t be used for everything. Avoid applying petroleum jelly on your face if you are prone to acne outbreaks. Consult a board-certified dermatologist if you have concerns about your skin or how to care for it.

Side Effects of Petroleum Jelly

Even though petroleum jelly has several advantages, it should only be applied externally. Never ingest or insert petroleum jelly. Avoid using petroleum jelly as a vaginal lubricant or for masturbation. According to Reuters, 141 women were studied, and it was discovered that 17% of them consumed petroleum jelly internally, and 40% had bacterial vaginosis.

Although using petroleum jelly is typically harmless, specific individuals may experience negative consequences, such as:

Side Effects of Petroleum Jelly
  • Some individuals may react allergic to petroleum jelly, causing rashes, itching, and skin irritation.
  • Petroleum jelly is non-comedogenic, but if you apply too much to your skin, you can still have acne outbreaks.
  • Petroleum jelly has the potential to stain clothes and bedding if it is not entirely absorbed into the skin.
  • Petroleum jelly can irritate the lungs and cause other respiratory issues; thus, it should never be inhaled.

What Factors Darken Skin?

Skin darkening can be caused by several factors, including:

What Factors Darken Skin
  • The skin can darken as a result of UV radiation from the sun. Sunburn and skin damage from excessive sun exposure can result in skin darkening.
  • Because collagen production and cell turnover slow down with age, our skin may get darker. The skin may appear uneven and dull as a result of this.
  • Skin darkening can be brought on by hormonal changes, such as those that take place during pregnancy or when taking specific drugs. Melanin production has increased as a result.
  • Skin irritability may result in skin darkening. This is because skin injury or inflammation causes the body to manufacture more melanin.

Ways to stop the skin from darkening

  • A high-SPF sunscreen should be used and applied frequently, especially if you plan to spend time outside.
  • Avoid tanning beds and choose a self-tanning solution to look bronzed.
  • Use moderate skincare products because harsh products can irritate and inflame the skin, which can darken the skin.
  • Use non-comedogenic, mild products that are unscented and free of other irritants.
  • Drinking water in large quantities can keep the skin healthy and hydrated.


Petroleum jelly is a common skincare product that has been around for a while. No scientific evidence supports the assertion, “Does petroleum jelly darken skin.” Petroleum jelly cannot darken the skin, but other variables can, including sun exposure, hormonal changes, aging, and skin irritation.

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It’s crucial to take good care of the skin by using sunscreen, avoiding tanning beds, using gentle skincare products, and drinking plenty of water to stop the skin from darkening. You can keep your skin tone healthy even by following these instructions.

It’s also crucial to remember that skin darkening occasionally indicates an underlying medical problem. See a dermatologist for additional assessment if you are worried about changes in your skin tone.