Is Petrolatum Harmful to Your Hair?

I understand your confusion about using Petrolatum for your hair, as there is a lot of buzz regarding it. So, what do you think, is Petrolatum bad for hair?

In this blog, we will be going through understanding what Petrolatum is, the use of Petrolatum in hair, effects of Petrolatum in hair. In addition, we'll also be getting into what's an alternative to Petrolatum if it's really harmful.

Understanding Petrolatum 


Petrolatum, often called petroleum jelly or white Petrolatum, is a semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbons derived from crude oil. It is an odourless and colourless substance with a greasy texture, a byproduct of oil refining.

Petrolatum has been a popular ingredient in beauty and hair care products because of its moisturizing and protective properties. 

Effects of use of Petrolatum for hair 

Petrolatum is widely used in hair care products such as pomades and hair oils. So, is it true that petroleum affects the hair? 

Although it is widely advertised that Petrolatum benefits hair in terms of sealing moisture and adding shine and volume, the truth is it has several drawbacks as compared to a few benefits.

Following are some of the drawbacks of using petroleum for hair: 

Temporary results

It is believed that Petrolatum can add shine and volume to your hair. But once you wash your hair, the hair is back to normal shine and volume. So, it does not help with adding shine and volume for the longer term.

In case you're looking for long-term shine and volume, then Petrolatum is not going to make up to your expectations.

Buildups and difficulty in washing 

As Petrolatum is thick and sticky, it is likely to cause buildups in the scalp if kept for an extended period and quite challenging to wash out thoroughly. The residue buildup can make the hair greasy and dull looking and can also attract dirt. 

Not suitable for all hair types 

Petrolatum might not be suitable for all hair types as it may weigh your hair down. Also, if used excessively and left on the scalp for a longer period, it can cause problems such as irritation and itching.

Myths about Petrolatum in Hair 

The constant question of whether Petrolatum is bad for hair pops into your mind because of some famous myths about it.

We are going to get into whether the myths are true or not. Let's get into the myth one by one: 

Petrolatum nourishes and makes hair grow faster. 

There is enormous noise circulating that petrolatum nourishes and makes hair grow faster, but there's no evidence that petrolatum nourishes and makes hair grow faster. Petrolatum is only for beautifying hair for the short term.

Petrolatum can repair split ends. 

Applying Petrolatum to split ends can provide a temporary solution to split ends by sticking hair stands together and making hair look healthier. However, it does not offer any permanent solution for repairing split ends.

Our hair does not actually absorb Petrolatum and it remains only on the surface. So, there is no chance that Petrolatum in hair care products can repair damaged hair, cure hair loss, or remove dandruff. 

Petrolatum can be used solely as a moisturizer.

Although it is able to lock up moisture in the hair, Petrolatum doesn't provide hydration on its own. Therefore, it is unsuitable as a standalone moisturizer and might not meet your expectations to work as a moisturizer. 

Alternative to Petrolatum - Shea Butter 

So far, we have learned how Petrolatum affects your hair, and you might be clear that Petrolatum can be used for temporary hair beautification. In the long term, Petrolatum has no benefits in nourishing hair and repairing damage. 

Are you now thinking about what you should use as an alternative to Petrolatum? One of the answers to your question is Shea Butter. But why? 

shea butter

Shea butter is a natural alternative to Petrolatum as it is extracted from shea tree nuts, making it chemical-free. In case of sealing moisture, shea butter can not only lock moisture. But, it can also draw moisture from the environment, providing continuous hydration to hair, reducing dry and brittle hair, and making it smooth and shiny.

In addition, ingredients in shea butter can prevent split ends, strengthen hair follicles, and nourish hair, making it far better than Petrolatum, which only adds temporary beauty to hair. 

Use of shea butter in hair care products 

As mentioned earlier, shea butter is an excellent moisturiser that can keep your hair hydrated. Using hair care products that consist of shea butter is very beneficial for keeping your hair moisturized, reducing dry and brittle hair, and ultimately improving your hair health.

conditioner with shea butter

In this case, it would be an absolute blunder if I didn't tell you about THICK Leave-in hair conditioner that has its key ingredient as Shea Butter.

In addition to nourishing your hair with Shea Butter, your hair conditioning routine can be free from chemicals such as sulfates and paraben. Also, THICK Leave-in hair conditioners are free from animal cruelty.


When compared, using Petrolatum in hair care products has several drawbacks to its negligible benefits. Further, shea butter can be a perfect natural alternative for Petrolatum as it offers additional benefits than that of Petrolatum.

In conclusion, switching to hair products that consist of natural alternatives such as shea butter instead of Petrolatum, which is only suitable for temporary hair beautification might be one of the decisions that will help you with long-term hair health and care.