I have a not-so-surprising confession: I like to use Aquaphor all over my body, especially on my face. Long before the drugstore staple became TikTok’s go-to product for slugging, my mother used to slather the occlusive all over my face to ward off dryness and keep my skin buttery smooth. Forget what the internet told you about buying a collection of expensive serums and targeted treatment products to achieve supple, dolphin skin. The magic potion has been hiding in plain sight at your local drugstore.
“Aquaphor has many uses. As an ointment, it contains petrolatum, which gives it its thick, greasy consistency. It acts as an occlusive agent by sealing moisture into the skin. It is also an emollient, meaning that it makes skin feel smooth by filling in gaps and cracks in the skin,” says board-certified dermatologist and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College Dr. Brendan Camp.
Moreover, Aquaphor’s benefits extend beyond the face. “Aquaphor can be used to repair rough, dry skin, as a lip balm, cuticle softener, wound treatment, makeup remover, eyelid moisturizer, treatment for cracked skin on hands and feet, and as a way to reduce
chafing during exercise,” Dr. Camp adds.
Below, Dr. Camp explains how Aquaphor can best be used for the face and everything else you need to know about the multipurpose ointment.
Why is Aquaphor good for the skin?
If you’ve seen any slugging videos, you’ve heard all the ways in which Aquaphor can bring you closer to having glass skin IRL. According to Dr. Camp, Aquaphor aids in maintaining hydration. “As an occlusive agent, Aquaphor prevents the evaporation of water from the skin, which helps keep skin moisturized,” he says. This is why Aquaphor (or any other occlusive used in slugging) is reserved for the last step, as it serves as the sealant for any of the hydrating products, such as hyaluronic acid or niacinamide, applied beforehand.
Can Aquaphor clog pores?
If you’re skin veers on the acne-prone side, you’ve likely hesitated to invest in a tub of Aquaphor because thick anything can sometimes spell trouble for those with oily, sensitive skin that’s prone to frequent breakouts. However, Dr. Camp says that while Aquaphor is non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog your pores, you should use it in moderation. “If too thick a layer is used, if it is left on for too long, or if you already have oily skin, sebum and sweat can accumulate in pores and cause an acne-like rash,” Dr. Camp explains. Make sure you’re using a cleanser that thoroughly washes away the product without stripping your skin of its natural oils and leaving it in a worse condition.
What skin types can benefit from it? What skin types should stay away?
“Most skin types can benefit from Aquaphor, though people with dry skin may benefit most,” Dr. Camp reveals. People with oily skin will need to pay attention to how much product they use and how often they apply the ointment to their skin each week. “Those with an allergy to lanolin may want to use a product that contains only petrolatum, such as Vaseline,” he advises.
How should you incorporate Aquaphor into your skincare routine?
Aquaphor can be used in a number of ways in your routine, from slugging to a lip balm down to a moisturizer for your hands. “If being used for slugging, apply a thin layer of Aquaphor on your face as the final step of your skincare routine. Use it a few times per week to see how your skin reacts before using it on a nightly basis. Note that Aquaphor can gunk up pillowcases. If slugging, don’t sleep on your best linens,” Dr. Camp warns.
How many times can it be used per week?
“Aquaphor can be used multiple times throughout the day when used as lip balm or healing ointment. It can be used nightly for slugging as long as your skin does not develop any breakouts in response to the treatment,” states Dr. Camp.
Beauty Commerce Editor
Nerisha is the beauty commerce editor at ELLE.com, covering all things beauty (and fashion and music). She has a penchant for sneakers and nude lip glosses, and spends way too much time re-watching 90s sitcoms.