Vaseline For Tanning, Does It Work Well?

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Invented in 1870 by Robert Chesebrough, Vaseline has been healing scrapes, burns, and dryness for over 150 years. It’s a common household staple to this day. Apart from its uses as a healing ointment, its versatility is almost unmatched. From beauty products to household hacks, it’s no wonder they dubbed Vaseline the “wonder jelly”.

But can you use Vaseline for tanning? In this article, we are going to look into Vaseline, what it does and some of its pretty amazing lesser-known uses, as well as whether or not you can use Vaseline for tanning.


What does Vaseline do and how does it work?

Vaseline Petroleum Jelly

Vaseline and other petroleum jellies are a mixture of mineral oils and various waxes which combine to form a thick, jelly-like substance. The petroleum in the jelly helps to seal in moisture by forming a water-protective barrier over the skin.

It’s been used for the last century and a half to help heal minor wounds, burns, and chaffed skin.

Because Vaseline is good for sealing in moisture, we tend to think of it as a moisturizer. However, Vaseline works as an occlusive ingredient, which means that technically, it doesn’t actually add moisture – it only helps to seal in already existing moisture in your skin.

It stays on top of the skin, rather than absorbing into it as other lotions and moisturizers do. Because of its thick consistency, it can soften especially dry, cracked areas, like heels.

You can add a little bit of Vaseline to your regular body moisturizer for a double whammy of hydration and locking that extra moisture in (just don’t mix it with a moisturizer containing SPF). 

Be advised that because Vaseline is thick and can clog pores, it’s not recommended to use it regularly on your face, especially if you have acne-prone skin.

Apart from being used as a healing balm, here are just some of the other uses for Vaseline:

  • as a make-up remover
  • as lip balm
  • to keep your razors looking like-new by putting a very thin layer of Vaseline on the blades between each use (just make sure the blades are dry first)
  • to smooth and slick your eyebrows
  • as clear mascara that conditions lashes and gives them shine
  • to get makeup stains out of fabric by using a bit of Vaseline on a damp washcloth
  • to prevent hair dye from staining your skin if you apply it around the hairline
  • to prevent things that screw in or screw on from sticking – try it on the base of a lightbulb, in the cap of a glue or nail polish bottle

Vaseline for Tanning

Among its many other uses, you can use Vaseline when applying fake tan. Whether it be spray tan machine or a self-tanner from a bottle, Vaseline can help!

Applying Vaseline to areas that tend to be dryer will help those areas soak up the tanning product more evenly. Areas like your knees, elbows, and feet are always problem spots. This can prevent blotchiness, for a more even tanned result.

Just make sure you apply well before you apply your fake tan, rub it in, and give it a chance to soften those areas.

Use Vaseline as a Fake Tan Barrier Cream

Vaseline can also be used as a fake tanning barrier cream, preventing stains in areas the self-tanning product would otherwise cling to where you don’t want the color, like your nails.

Nails are notorious for becoming stained by self-tanners, and Vaseline is the perfect solution.

You can also use it on any area that you don’t want your tanning product to tan or touch, especially if you are doing a spray tan where you don’t have as much control over where it goes.

If you have any raw, irritated patches of skin that could potentially become more irritated, apply a layer of Vaseline to those areas.

When using Vaseline as a barrier to prevent staining or irritation of sensitive areas, use a generous amount.

You can actually buy barrier creams specifically made for fake tanning . But Vaseline gets the job done just as well, if not better, and comes at a fraction of the price.

Vaseline Cleansing 1 Blueseal Pure Petroleum Jelly Original 100ml
Vaseline Cleansing 1 Blueseal Pure Petroleum Jelly Original 100ml
This creamy, non-drying formula leaves skin feeling clean, velvety, and rebalanced; Skin looks brighter with a healthy glow

Use Vaseline Remove Fake Tan

It’s possible vaseline will remove fake tan, and it is a common way to remove fake tan from the hands and feet.

It’s not really an efficient way to get rid of a fake tan completely, but if you want to remove it from a few spots, Vaseline is a good choice.

Can You Use Vaseline as Tanning Oil?

Now Vaseline on skin technically works like a tanning oil in some ways. But what happens when you put it on and head to the beach?

Can you wear vaseline in the sun?

Nothing good! You should be careful using vaseline in the sun.

Vaseline, like tanning oil, intensifies your skin’s response to being exposed to the sun’s UV rays, increasing the effects of exposure in a shorter period of time. It attracts and focuses UV rays onto the skin, which accelerates the production of melanin, which gives your skin the darker color….

Does vaseline make you tan faster?

Yes! But it also greatly shortens the time it takes you to burn, which is what is more likely to happen.

Think of using Vaseline for tanning like covering your body in a huge magnifying glass. We all know what happens when you focus the sun through a magnifying glass, right?

Unlike outdoor tanning oils, which nowadays most have at least some form of SPF, Vaseline offers you NO protection from the sun’s harmful rays.

DO NOT use Vaseline for sun tanning.

Can I mix Vaseline with a Sunscreen?

No. Tanning oil needs to form a film on your skin. Remember that Vaseline is used as a barrier It functions to keep moisture in, or to keep dirt, microbes, and products that will stain or irritate your skin out.

This barrier will prevent any SPF product from being able to create that film on your skin to protect you. Vaseline will also break down the chemical compounds in your sunscreen, making it less effective. 

Take Away

Vaseline is super versatile and has so many uses! But using it as a tanning oil is not one of them.

Vaseline offers you no protection from the sun’s harmful rays and will put you on the fast track to long term skin damage. It increases your risk of skin cancers.

If you want to tan, use a tanning oil with an SPF of at least 15.

Or better yet, opt for the safest method and use a sunless tanning product like Bondi Sands or Mystic Tan, or even one of the new tanning waters!

These are all a much safer choice. Now get your tan on!

Written by Kayla Young

Kayla is the founder of LuxeLuminous. She has worked professionally in the tanning industry for years. She has been interested in esthetics since childhood, and has tried every hair, skin, and makeup product ever produced (more or less).