Vaseline has become a generic name for skin care across the world. It is basically a Petroleum jelly which was originally promoted as an ointment with healing properties. The raw material for this was first discovered at Titusville, Pennsylvania, United States long back in 1859. The workers in the nearby oil rigs started using it for the healing properties which was discovered accidentally. But the credit of converting the “rod wax” to a commercial Petroleum jelly goes to a young scientist named Robert Chesebrough. He went to Titusville and converted the unrefined black “rod wax” to a light-colored gel popularly known as Vaseline today. The source of the word Vaseline is believed to be: German Wasser (=water) + Greek έλαιον (=oil).
Coming to the marketing aspect, Vaseline as a brand started its journey long back in 1870. Originally it was owned by Chesebrough Manufacturing Company owned by Vaseline inventor Robert Chesebrough. Chesebrough-Ponds incorporated (CPI) was formed in 1955 through the merger of Chesebrough Manufacturing Company and Ponds Extract Company (Original owner of Pond’s). Vaseline became a part of personal care portfolio of famous Anglo-Dutch company Unilever when it acquired Chesebrough-Ponds incorporated.
Originally Vaseline was mainly targeted to babies and mothers. As you can clearly see the focus on babies in following 1975 Vaseline ad:
During 1980s the company found that it was missing out on a bigger potential market. And started advertising to show multiple uses of the brand for different segments of people including men, women, youth and old. Please find below a 2007 Indian ad of the brand which shows this shift in targeting:
In India the brand is part of Unilever’s Indian counterpart HUL. This is what HUL website has to say about ‘The Vaseline Philosophy’:
“The need for Vaseline is based on real skin facts. We believe our skin is amazing. It protects us, heals itself, connects us to the world, transmits emotions. And this amazing skin needs to be looked after. We believe nobody knows skin, and how to keep it at its healthy best, better than Vaseline. Which is why we make products that maintain our skin condition at its best and enhance its natural health.”
There are three main products under the Vaseline brand: Vaseline Petroleum Jelly I.P., Vaseline Total Moisture Body Lotion and Vaseline Aloe Cool and Fresh Body Lotion. The brand provides ‘daily skin care and healthy skin for the entire family’. Globally Unilever has some other products like shampoo, deodorants etc under the Vaseline brand name as well.
Most of you know about various uses of Vaseline. In fact as it is used for so many purposes I thought it would be rather easier and also important to warn you against where and when you should not use it. So, here goes the non-use list:
1. Never use it for NASAL DRYNESS or congestion. The inhaling will lead to deposit of petrolatum in lungs causing lipid pneumonia.
2. It should not be used to FRESH BURNs of any kind.
3. Last but not the least – never use it as PERSONAL LUBRICANT. As per Wikipedia: “Using petroleum jelly with latex condoms weakens the material very quickly, increasing the chance of rupture.” So, better be better be careful because as you know prevention is better than cure! LOL
Please leave a comment if you know any other interesting information or usage of Vaseline. We would love to hear from you. 😀