Sometimes even the best lotions can’t fix dry, cracked skin — and that’s when many people reach for Aquaphor. The key ingredient in Aquaphor is petroleum jelly (an occlusive), which works well because it creates a seal on the skin that locks moisture in and keeps dirt and debris out. But if you prefer to avoid Aquaphor’s signature formula, the best Aquaphor alternatives are made with petroleum-free ingredients that can help with everything from sunburn to tattoo aftercare.
Vegetable waxes or animal waxes are naturally occurring and offer similar solutions without the possible petroleum (also called petrolatum,) downsides. Selecting a product with additional restorative ingredients like plant oils and vitamins is always a bonus. Here are a few of the most effective ingredients to look for when you're considering an Aquaphor swap:
- Beeswax is a natural occlusive ingredient that is commonly used as a petroleum alternative. It locks moisture into the skin and creates a protective coating — plus, it has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that have been shown to benefit sensitive skin and help skin conditions like psoriasis. However, beeswax is an animal by-product, and while it’s considered vegetarian, it is not vegan.
- Shea Butter has anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antibacterial, and anti-fungal properties that are recommended for all skin types. Shea butter is an emollient that works to restore the skin barrier; however, it should be used in small amounts on your face, because too much could clog your pores, potentially causing breakouts.
- Avocado Oil is both an emollient and an occlusive, and it's packed with antioxidant Vitamin E, as well as potassium and many other nutrients. In addition to helping to ease the pain of sunburn and speed up wound healing, it also works to prevent chafing, cracked skin, and blisters.
- Jojoba Oil is an emollient that softens and smoothes skin; it has anti-inflammatory and healing properties that may help relieve dryness, flaking, and itching. Like avocado oil, it is a thinner oil that, on its own, will not replicate the texture of Aquaphor, but can be added to more occlusive ingredients.
You’ll find these ingredients in my list of the best Aquaphor alternatives. I’ve rounded up a handful of petroleum-free products that are highly reviewed and come in a variety of sizes and price points to fit your needs.
1. An Ointment Made With Beeswax And Botanicals
This highly rated and versatile ointment is made with beeswax and is completely free of petroleum. Waxelene is ideal for dry skin, after-sun care, and wound maintenance and the manufacturer noted that it can also safely be used on pets and babies. This brand uses only USDA organic, non-GMO, and hypoallergenic ingredients, making it like an “organic bandaid” that creates a protective barrier over the skin, without clogging pores. The manufacturers use a patented aeration process that makes the jelly breathable on your skin. In addition to its beeswax base, Waxelene is made with vitamin E, soy oil, and rosemary oil that work to soothe skin.
Don’t let the price scare you — you’ll get a large, 9-ounce jar.
Helpful Review: “Ever since I came across this product nearly 4 years ago, I have never gone without it. It is my must-have for so many reasons. I work in a very harsh environment, travel a LOT and have sensitive skin. I use this gold on my lips, skin, hair, tattoo healing, after sun, my pets, for eczema and soon to be my first baby! It’s seriously the perfect product. If they sold it in 5 gallon buckets, I would likely invest! I sometimes scoop some into smaller, purse size containers and add a drop or two of my fave essential oils...so awesome.”
2. An Affordable Pick With Just 4 Ingredients
This affordable "un-petroleum" jelly is a vegetarian formula with a low price tag that has a never-ending list of uses. Like Aquaphor, it can be used to moisturize and create a barrier around the skin to prevent further irritation, plus it's gentle enough to use on newborns to soothe diaper rash or on your eyes to remove makeup. It is free of petrolatum, paraffin, mineral oil, artificial fragrances, and parabens, opting instead for natural ingredients. Its list of soothing ingredients include beeswax, castor oil, vitamin E, and sunflower seed oil. It has more than 1,500 reviews and a 4.6-star rating on Amazon. Keep in mind that, although the price is low, this one comes in a smaller size (3.5 ounces) than the first pick.
Helpful Review: “So happy with this product!! It's absolutely perfect and works so well. Lip balm, ointment, healing a cut, something for extra skin hydration, or even using on your eyebrows to make them grow more - if you're looking for a natural alternative to vaseline that has only four simple ingredients without petroleum jelly, get this!! I love it and will 100% repurchase when I run out.”
3. A One-Ingredient Vegan Jelly
If you are looking for a vegan alternative to Aquaphor and petroleum jelly, this avocado gel is made from 100% pharmaceutical grade, jellied avocado oil — and nothing else. This single-ingredient jelly can help prevent chafing or blisters, as well as moisturize and protect skin. It naturally repels wind and water — making it a great lotion or topical treatment . Avocado oil is naturally thick, plus it's been jellied by the manufacturer, through a mechanical process that alters the avocado oil’s viscosity, thus creating a gel that isn't as creamy as Aquaphor, but has a thicker consistency than body oils. It's clear it's doing something right: it has a 4.7-star rating on Amazon.
Helpful Review: “I have searched high and low and spent so much money looking for a product to help my eczema. This is a great help! It’s soothing and soaks in, unlike other products that just sit on top of your skin. It’s basic, pure avocado gel. I love it!”
4. This Hydrating Lip Balm With Shea Butter
If you’re looking for a moisturizing lip balm without petroleum, this all-natural option is for you. The balm is made with shea butter and beeswax, in addition to natural oils like jojoba and soy. Unlike Aquaphor, it will not completely seal off your skin, allowing your lips to breathe while absorbing as much moisture as possible. Its unique design includes encapsulated flavor crystals that continue to release citrus flavor (and scent) for hours, and one reviewer confirmed this by saying the pleasant scent lingers all day. In addition to the delicious smell, it also has a cooling minty ingredient that leaves lips feeling refreshed. Medline comes in a travel-friendly stick packaging and each pack includes three sticks. It has more than 1,200 reviews and a 4.8-star rating.
Helpful Review: “Love that there’s no petroleum products or oxy-benzoate. Very creamy on the lips. My favorite lip balm.”
5. This Rich Hand Cream With Shea Butter And Avocado Oil
An intensely hydrating, nourishing hand cream to get your hands through the coldest days and beyond, this petroleum-free pick is made from a blend of plant-based ingredients like shea butter, avocado oil, and jojoba oil, as well as beeswax, and is free of dyes, parabens, and phthalates. This highly rated cream, which features more than 5,000 reviews, is manufactured by a well-known and loved U.S. company that has been operating since 1868 . It has a Leaping Bunny certification that ensures it hasn't been tested on animals and even comes in different scents: lavender, coconut, lemon cream, pomegranate and acai, and aloe and green tea.
Helpful Review: "Purchased this item for my daughter, age 7. Her skin randomly started to peel on her hands and feet. I tried cocoa butter, cocoa butter oil and even aloe vera gel. Nothing worked! Came across this random gem and decided to give it a go. Not only does it smell absolutely amazing, in only a week of use her skin was completely healed! I was freaking SHOCKED! It’s been the only lotion I use now."
6. A Splurge-Worthy Body Oil
This body oil is pricey, but many reviewers stated that it's worth every penny. Though this is not the same cream consistency as Aquaphor, the multipurpose oil is made with 28 natural fruit and flower oils like jojoba, rosehip, and chamomile, as well as avocado, grapeseed, mango and pumpkin seed that make it incredibly nourishing and hydrating. You can use this oil on your face, body, feet, and hands. Reviewers shared that they even used it to give their hair shine and remove makeup.
The oil, which has a 4.7-star rating, comes in a smaller 4-ounce bottle, but a little bit goes a long way, according to the manufacturer. In addition to being free of petroleum, it's has no parabens, sulphates, silicones, or phthalates.
Helpful Review: “This product is expensive, but so worth it. I have dry skin and I love putting this on my face. It is thick and spreads slowly, and my skin stays fresh looking all day without being shiny. It doesn't cause my face to break out and in the winter, it's a nice layer to protect against the cold wind. The smell is so delicious and a little goes a long way. So worth the money!”