A glass jar of a non-toxic Aquaphor alternative natural balm surrounded by white flowers on a peach colored surface.
March 22, 2024
 in 
Beauty

12 Eco-Friendly Aquaphor Alternatives to Slide into Your Skin Routine

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oisturized, unbothered, and flourishing – that’s all most of us want for our skin, right? One of the cult products that’s long been sold to get us there is Aquaphor: a salve that can be slathered on everything from wind-burnt cheeks to dry cuticles. It’s also been the key product featured in “slugging”, the latest online skincare trend. If you don’t know what that is, don’t stress, we’re about to get into all things hydration-related.

We’re also here to bring you in on the slightly darker side of Aquaphor and how the petroleum-based formula may be impacting your health and the planet’s. Great-looking skin should never come at the cost of our environment, which is why we’ve put together 12 of the best Aquaphor alternatives that feature natural, non-toxic ingredients. We’ve got vegan options, extra-environmentally friendly products, the best Aquaphor alternative for sensitive skin, and plenty more.

If you’re looking for a glow that’s good for the planet, you’re in the right place.

Table of  Contents

What is Aquaphor?

Aquaphor is technically a skincare brand but when most of us talk about it, we’re referring to the classic healing ointment they make rather than the brand itself. The product is essentially a very rich moisturizer that can be used on rough, dry, or irritated skin, or to help speed up wound healing.

Everything You Need to Know About Skin Slugging (No Critters Required)

Aquaphor has been a cult product for years, but recently hit a new level of popularity thanks to the resurgence of “slugging”. This skincare trend involves slathering a thick occlusive onto the face as a final step in your night-time routine to “lock in” moisture and all the other products used. Slugging ointments are usually petroleum-based with Aquaphor and Vaseline appearing most often in these routines. Some people even skip their other products and will just use one of these ointments.

Either way, the initial result is super shiny skin that makes you look a little like Patrick Bateman from American Psycho doing a face mask.

Slugging isn’t just an online trend though. It’s a technique that dermatologists have been recommending for years. It helps prevent water loss from your skin while you sleep and in doing so, can assist in repairing the skin barrier. The occlusive ointment not only locks in hydration though, but it also allows the products beneath it to work harder. This is great when layered over moisturizing products but should never be used over harsh active ingredients like retinol or salicylic acid as it may make them too effective and thus, more irritating.

Can You Slug Without Aquaphor?

Slugging is typically done with a “petrolatum” or petroleum-based formula so technically any such product, Aquaphor or otherwise, can be used. If you’re curious about how to slug without the use of petroleum in your skincare, keep reading. We’ve got plenty of alternative products that can get you that same slick look.

What’s the Deal with Repairing Your Skin Barrier?

We’re going to talk a lot about the skin barrier in this article. Repairing it, supporting it, soothing it – it’s all important. The reason why is that though your skin is made up of multiple layers, it’s the outermost layer, the stratum corneum, that operates as your skin’s main line of defense against pollution, toxins, etc.

It’s also what helps keep your skin’s moisture in. In fact, the entire barrier is made up of keratin and natural moisturizers such as fatty acids and ceramides that buffer your body against the harshness of the world. One of the first signs that this barrier might be struggling is unusually dry or scaly skin. Itchiness, acne, and inflammation are also signs of a damaged skin barrier.

Addressing this irritation and restoring your skin barrier can help bring balance to your overall skin health. It’s why slugging, which essentially boosts your skin barrier, has become such a viral trend. 

Are Aquaphor and Vaseline the Same Thing?

Though they’re both petroleum-based ointments, Aquaphor and Vaseline are not the same thing. Vaseline’s original formula is just pure petroleum jelly while Aquaphor has a host of other ingredients added to it to boost wound healing.

The Environmental Impact of Aquaphor and Other Petroleum-Derived Products

For all the hype around Aquaphor, one of its star ingredients is part of a larger industry doing irreparable damage to the planet. Petroleum jelly and petrolatum-based ingredients are generally made from the further refinement of the bi-products of gas and oil production. 

As generally known, these fossil fuels are also some of the central contributors to climate change. From mining to manufacturing, we’ve seen large-scale environmental damage and pollution done because of them. That’s why it’s so important to note that to reduce your fossil fuel usage, you can’t just worry about what’s going into your car, but into your skincare too.

Why Switch to More Natural Aquaphor Alternatives

Besides the obvious environmental benefit of moving away from Aquaphor and other petroleum-based skin products, there are 4 other key areas where making a change can have a positive impact on our planet’s health, and yours:

  • Non-Toxic: Aquaphor’s healing ointment doesn’t have as bad a rating as you might expect, in terms of its ingredients. It doesn’t contain fragrances or heavy metals but there are certainly other brands that are doing far better. The most concerning Aquaphor ingredient is petrolatum which has been linked to reproductive toxicity, and there are ongoing studies that are confirming the levels of corrolation. For this reason, we’d argue it’s best to avoid and stick with more natural, non-toxic formulas.
  • Cruelty-Free: An extension of vegan formulas is also picking cruelty-free products as this ensures that no animal testing was done either.
  • Vegan: Aquaphor features lanolin, a waxy substance derived from sheep’s wool. Though it doesn’t require direct harm to the animals involved, there are major issues with cruelty in sheep farming and the environmental damage of grazing habits, etc. All of this is to say that switching to vegan Aquaphor alternatives is a great way to help mitigate the environmental damage a product may be doing. It also helps give peace of mind that your skin’s glow didn’t come at the price of an animal’s well-being. 
  • Natural: Though petroleum jelly is derived from a “natural” material originally, it has to be so highly processed to be safe for use that it quickly loses that status. Switching to more natural Aquaphor alternatives usually means they’re gentler on the skin and on the planet as they require less intensive sourcing and manufacturing.

Are Alternatives to Aquaphor Still as Effective?

The reason why petrolatum and petroleum appear so much in products is because they are such effective occlusives in that they prevent moisture loss from the skin. That said, there are many great alternatives and dermatological research is being done all the time to confirm this. For example, here’s a paper that found that vegetable oils have a skin occlusion effect that’s comparable to petroleum jelly.

In the next section, we’ll explore a host of Aquaphor alternatives that are still highly effective at locking in the skin’s moisture and helping it repair.

12 Eco-Friendly Aquaphor Alternatives to Boost Your Skincare Routine

If you’re looking for a clean alternative to Aquaphor, or simply a more sustainable one, we’ve got all the best occlusive ointments and glow-givers for you right here:

7 Vegan and Non-Toxic Aquaphor Alternatives

Lanolin and other animal-derived ingredients frequently appear in occlusive ointments but here are 7 completely vegan, natural Aquaphor alternatives to bring the goodness back to your skin:

1. Future Wise

Looking for the best slugging products? Future Wise has a whole kit available but their hero item (according to Byrdie and many others) is the Slug Balm – an ointment with seriously cute packaging and a host of skincare benefits.

Skin Benefits: The petrolatum-free balm features plant-based oils and a lipid complex that help seal in the skin’s hydration and improve its long-term ability to retain water. It’s lush, while still feeling lightweight.

Price: $24

Packaging: Recycled and recyclable plastic.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Plant-based, non-toxic, fragrance-free formula.
  • Vegan.
  • Leaping Bunny Certified cruelty-free.

2. Pipette

Pipette’s bestselling Hydrating Baby Balm isn’t just a great Aquaphor alternative for baby use, it also works well for adults as a multipurpose moisturizer that can be used for everything from slugging to brow-taming.

Skin Benefits: Ethically grown, sugarcane-derived squalene is the big ingredient in this natural substitute for Vaseline and Aquaphor. It helps calm, hydrate, and nourish even the driest skin.

Price Range: $5-$11

Packaging: Recycled and recyclable plastic.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Non-toxic, fragrance-free formula.
  • EWG Verified.
  • Leaping Bunny Certified.
  • Vegan.

3. Doctor Rogers

This brand’s Restore Healing Balm has won awards from Allure and Goop and has been approved by the National Eczema Association. It’s the perfect Vaseline alternative for wound care, but also works great on eczema, chapped skin, etc.

Skin Benefits: A simple combination of biodegradable ingredients such as castor seed oil and glycerin helps heal and protect the skin. We also love that in clinical studies it managed to outperform Aquaphor.

Price Range: $8-$68

Packaging: Recycled and recyclable plastic.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Non-toxic, fragrance-free, plant-based formula.
  • Vegan.
  • Cruelty-free.

4. Cocokind

This clean skincare brand has a few occlusive ointments but our favorite is the Ceramide Recovery Balm – a highly effective Aquaphor alternative that’s free from petrolatum and great for slugging, soothing sensitive skin, treating dryness, etc.

Skin Benefits: The ceramide-rich balm helps reinforce a healthy skin barrier while sustainably sourced squalene works to prevent moisture loss. The formula is deeply nourishing and calming. 

Price Range: $18-$22

Packaging: Recyclable tube and box.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Non-toxic, petrolatum-free formula.
  • Vegan.
  • Product comes with a carbon emissions breakdown.

5. Kiss Kiss Goodnight

Kiss Kiss Goodnight’s Peace of Mind Protective Balm is the natural alternative to Aquaphor for baby care that you’ve been looking for. It works brilliantly on diaper rashes but it’s also just great to have as a general all-purpose ointment.

Skin Benefits: Pracaxi oil is the stand-out of this soothing, protective formula. Sourced from an Amazonian seed, the ingredient is brilliant for renewing burned or injured skin and helping to boost the skin microbiome.

Price Range: $24-$28

Packaging: Recyclable plastic tub.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Non-toxic, plant-based formula.
  • Vegan.
  • Cruelty-Free.

6. Typology

While this list may be focused on eco-friendly and non-toxic alternatives to Aquaphor, what about a product that’s also more aesthetically pleasing? Typology’s Lipid-Replenishing Balm has all the coolness you’d expect of a French brand, plus it’s packed with skin-loving, natural ingredients.

Skin Benefits: Ceramides and a post-biotic complex form the foundation of this powerhouse product. It’s suitable for everyone from newborns to adults and provides 24-hour hydration to relieve irritation, dryness, etc.

Price Range: $27

Packaging: Recyclable aluminum tube.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Non-toxic, fragrance-free, and 99% plant-based formula.
  • Vegan.

7. Honest Beauty

Approved by the National Eczema Association, the Honest Healing Head-To-Toe Ointment is a multi-purpose, healing ointment that’s gentle enough for babies, and anyone else to use.

Skin Benefits: Cracked skin, burns, scrapes, irritation – you name it, this is the hypo-allergenic Aquaphor alternative to use. Allantoin, Sunflower Seed Oil, and Shea Butter all help to repair and moisturize the skin.

Price Range: $15-$25

Packaging: Recyclable plastic.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Vegan.
  • Peta certified Animal Test-free.

5 Natural and Non-Toxic Aquaphor Alternatives

If vegan formulas aren’t as much of a concern, here are 5 products that are similar to Aquaphor but still stick to natural and non-toxic ingredients:

1. Earth Mama Organics

Earth Mama’s #1 selling product is their Organic Diaper Balm and for good reason. Though mainly for baby use, it’s a multitasking salve that’s great for the whole family.

Skin Benefits: Organic herbs like calendula and St John’s wort have been combined with essential oils for a formula that protects, soothes, and hydrates.

Price Range: $13

Packaging: Recyclable tin.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Non-toxic formula free of triclosan, petroleum, etc.
  • Organic ingredients.
  • Certified non-GMO.
  • Partnered with the Safecosmetics.org
  • Plastic Neutral.
  • EWG-Verified
  • Cruelty-Free.

2. Primarily Pure

Though called the Baby Balm, this natural subsite for Aquaphor can used on adult eczema, as an eye cream, and even on your hair.

Skin Benefits: Yummy ingredients like organic olive oil, marshmallow root, and tallow from grass-fed cows make up a balm that is perfect for soothing irritation and boosting your skin barrier.

Price Range: $18

Packaging: Recyclable glass and plastic.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Non-toxic, natural formula.
  • Recycling program.
  • Features organic and sustainably sourced ingredients.

3. Alba Botanica

The Alba Botanica Un-Petroleum Multi-Purpose Jelly is the plant-based Aquaphor and Vaseline substitute you’ve been looking for. It’s simple, effective, and seriously versatile.

Skin Benefits: A mix of natural plant oils and beeswax ensures that this product moisturizes and protects the skin as soon as it’s applied.

Price Range: $10

Packaging: Plastic tube (unclear if recyclable).

Sustainability Stats:

  • Non-toxic, plant-based formula.
  • Leaping Bunny certified cruelty-free.

4. Toups & Co. Organics

Tallow has long been used as a natural moisturizer and at Toups $ Co., they’re bringing back this ancient ingredient with their Tallow Balm.

Skin Benefits: Grass-fed tallow, organic olive oil, and various essential oils feature in this whipped, smooth balm. It “melts” right into the skin and provides lasting hydration. We also love that the product comes in an unscented version suitable for sensitive skin.

Price Range: $32

Packaging: Recyclable glass jar and metal lid.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Non-toxic, natural formula free of petroleum, etc.
  • Certified organic ingredients.

5. Waxelene

Waxelene’s Multi-Purpose Ointment is the certified organic Vaseline and Aquaphor alternative that every family needs. There’s a reason they sell it in a bulk size option …

Skin Benefits: The ointment uses just four natural ingredients to hydrate, soothe, and boost the skin barrier. It’s great for dry or irritated skin, and healing cuts quicker.

Price Range: $30

Packaging: Recyclable glass jar and metal lid.

Sustainability Stats:

  • Certified-organic
  • Cruelty-free
  • Non-toxic, natural formula free of petroleum, etc.

Moisturized and Minding Your Impact

In a world of pollution and depressing headlines, we’re all just chasing that glow but great skin need not require the use of Aquaphor or other petroleum-based skin products. So let's slide those icky Fossil fuel derived products as far away from our skin moisturizers as possible. 

Instead, stick by brands that are creating great non-toxic, vegan, and cruelty-free alternatives wherever you can. We’d argue that there’s no glow quite like minding your impact while using healthier skin care products in your slugging routine.

FAQs of Aquaphor Alternatives

What can I use instead of Aquaphor? 

There are so many products you can use instead of Aquaphor. We especially love anything that doesn’t use petroleum. Two great all-rounders that can be used on the whole family, and for a variety of skin concerns include Typology’s Lipid-Replenishing Balm and the Honest Company’s Healing Head-To-Toe Ointment

What ointment is the same as Aquaphor? 

No ointment is identical to Aquaphor in formulation but there are plenty that can perform a similar function and still be highly effective. For example, Alba Botanica’s Un-Petroleum Multi-Purpose Jelly.

Is Aquaphor just Vaseline? 

No, Aquaphor isn’t just Vaseline with a different name. It uses a similar base as Vaseline’s petroleum jelly in the form of petrolatum but has other added ingredients like lanolin to boost wound healing.

What works as Aquaphor? 

Lots of things work similarly to Aquaphor and with far more natural ingredients. For slugging, our favorite Aquaphor alternative is the Future Wise Slug Balm but if you want a more general ointment, you can’t go wrong with Doctor Rogers’ Restore Healing Balm

When should you not use Aquaphor? 

You shouldn’t use Aquaphor on very sensitive areas such as your eyes and it shouldn’t go in the mouth, nose, or genital area.

Why does Aquaphor work so well? 

Aquaphor works so well as a moisturizer due to its combined use of petrolatum and various other wound-healing ingredients. That said, there are plenty of Aquaphor alternatives that don’t use petroleum-based ingredients and are as good, or even better.

What are the bad side effects of Aquaphor? 

Aquaphor doesn’t have a major list of bad side effects. It’s formulated to be very gentle and nourishing, but the use of fossil-fuel-derived ingredients certainly has bad side effects for the planet in terms of adding to pollution and carbon emissions.