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Back to Basics with 'Vaseline'

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Dear Dr. Levister: In “Taming Dry Skin’ (August 19, 2010) you suggested several ‘modern day’ products to aid in keeping skin looking radiant and youthful but you apparently forgot to look in your grandma’s medicine cabinet.

This may sound a bit strange.

No, Vaseline is not the high end expensive stuff, but it’s my favorite beauty product. Yes, it’s thick and can be messy, but I swear by it. Tyra Banks gave guests on her show Swarovski jewel encrusted jars of the stuff. Marilyn Monroe reportedly kept Vaseline stashed in her dressing room.

As the story goes, Vaseline was invented by the chemist Robert Cheesebrough in the late 19th century, who observed local factory workers in Pennsylvania using the rod wax that resulted from the pop rods of the oil wells to protect and heal cuts. Amazed by the product’s therapeutic benefits, he returned to his lab, mixed up so many batches of the key ingredient, petroleum jelly, that he had to use his wife’s vases to hold the product. He added the word “line” to “vase”, and Vaseline was born.

Have you ever heard of your mother or grandmother using Vaseline on their face? Well I have, my late grandmother did it and my mom does it and you would be hard pressed to find a wrinkle on her face.

I grew up working on my family’s farm in Mississippi. Vaseline was a must for ashy feet and ankles. Now I spread a little on my face, lips, hands and feet before I go to bed. I have really dry skin, so for me - this works well. For those who tend to have more oily skin, this may not work so well.

Some people say Vaseline clogs your pores. But I’ve never had a problem. After seeing how remarkable and radiant my skin looks after all the years of using Vaseline I figure Mr. Cheesebrough must have been on to something.

When folks ask my age I smile and say - 73. Oh you should see the look on their face!

(The writer is Bessie H., a retired Redlands school teacher.)

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