The many beauty uses of Aquaphor – and why this esthetician thinks it’s a must-have.
There’s one product I’m always recommending to my clientele that elicits surprised reactions almost every time: plain ole over-the-counter Aquaphor (or a generic knock-off which is even cheaper). Yes, I know: As an esthetician, I am supposed to market nothing but high-dollar skin care potions and consider anything over-the-counter as sub-par garbage unworthy of my or my guests’ attention. There’s plenty of over-the-counter garbage out there, there’s also a good bit of “professional” garbage too – but the renegade esthetician in me will not disqualify a product simply because it’s found on a shelf at Wal-Mart. There are always a handful of hidden gems on big-box store shelves and Aquaphor just happens to be one of them. Think I’m crazy? Talk to just about any surgeon and they’ll say it’s fabulous stuff as well.
So here’s the thing – when you read the list of ingredients on Aquaphor (Petrolatum, Mineral Oil, Ceresin, Lanolin Alcohol, Panthenol, Glycerin, Bisabol) there is nothing all too magical going on with the list. Yet, I do find the product pretty magical. Granted, you’ll not get coated in unicorn dust when you open the unassuming tube or tub – but use it in the ways I’m about to describe to you, and you’ll see some benefits that are pretty fantastic – AND – you’ll find these benefits come to you at a heck of a better price point than $100 night creams, over-priced cuticle creams, fancy foot creams, boutique lash conditioners, and a slew of other over-priced and over-rated products.
Now, I know when some folks read this post, there will be some bulging eyes because I am recommending a product that contains mineral oil and petrolatum. Just as an FYI – if you’ve read the fear mongering around petrolatum and mineral oil, please go do a little new research. The old and ridiculous “studies” that gave these two substances a bad name have been disproven and have also been shown to be politically motivated (yes, all going back to issues with the oil industry and politics). In reality, petrolatum and mineral oil are chemically inert and cannot chemically interact with the skin – they are also large in molecular size making them too large to penetrate into the pore (this means NO they cannot clog your pores). So in case you’ve read the fear-mongering chaos on the “Interwebs”: No, mineral oil and petrolatum are not unsafe, no they will not clog pores, no they do not suck vitamins out of your skin (geesh – the fear mongering is severe), no they will not cause acne (anyone who says that has zero idea about the formation of acne), no they will not “make you get oily skin”, and no they won’t ruin your life in any way. In fact, these two simple little ingredients that are not respected enough (in my opinion) could go a long way to improving some things many of us are aggravated by: skin irritations, dry and flaking skin, skin that cannot stay adequately hydrated, dry and funky looking feet, cuticles, and hands, brittle eyelashes, rough and scaly body skin, and more.
Alright, so now maybe you’re willing to give it a shot. Here’s some ways I consistently use Aquaphor:
- To amp up a daytime moisturizer and make it function like a $100 night cream: mix a bit of your daytime (non-spf) moisturizer with a little touch of Aquaphor and avoid having to buy a “night-time” cream. This doesn’t replace your active skin care serums – I’m talking about creams. Most creams sit on the skin and condition as well as create a protective barrier to prevent water loss in the skin. Moisturizers and serums are very different, and it is my opinion that 85% of the moisturizers marketed as night creams are over priced and under-quality. I don’t care to pay $95 for a pretty little jar of night cream when I can take my quality day moisturizer that runs me about $35 and add a hint of Aquaphor to it and end up with something on my face that performs far better than the stuff in the fancy $95 jar. If you’re wearing corrective serums overnight, this mixture would go on top. [Lightest to heaviest is general rule of thumb for product application.]
- Use a q-tip and apply Aquaphor to your eyelashes overnight. Yep, just a thin layer of Aquaphor consistently applied to your lashes overnight will condition them and reduce lash breakage. Many a model uses this little trick to keep nice, pretty lashes. If you’re a contact lens wearer, do NOT do this while your contacts are in – you’ll end up with a film on your contacts that will make light look rather trippy; take lenses out first, then apply. Of course, if you’re wearing artificial lash extensions, you’re left out here – the Aquaphor will dissolve your adhesive, so skip this trick if you’re doing the lash extension thing.
- Hands, feet, cuticles: Aquaphor will transform dry and rough hands, cuticles and feet almost overnight. No, it can’t rid you of thickened layers of dry skin (see this post for getting rid of excessive dead layers of skin), but it can help with softening, smoothing, and soothing and it can do it fast. What you need to do: hydrate your skin well with water (this is best done via a bath or shower). While your skin is still damp, apply a thin layer of Aquaphor and work it in to your heels, cuticles, toes, whatever part of your feet need the help – work it in; do the same for your hands and fingers (even elbows while you’re at it). The trick is having hydrated skin. In chemistry, oil sits on top of water, so applying Aquaphor over well-hydrated/damp skin means the Aquaphor will sit on top of the water and create a protective barrier. This locks the water in and decreases evaporation. To make this point even more clear, I usually have remaining water droplets on my skin when I apply. I am not completely toweling dry and then applying. I’m patting off “excess”, leaving a little water on, Aquaphor goes on top – mixes around a bit – warms up, melts in, and boom – skin feels amazing. Doing this regularly is where you’re going to see crazy improvements, and don’t forget: don’t let your skin go totally wonkers before you start… Just make this part of your routine. You’ve probably read suggestions of putting a thick layer of Vaseline on your feet and wearing thick socks to bed. Well, I can’t stand sleeping in socks, and I hate having a thick layer of greasy stuff all over me. You can avoid those things if you’re like me – by just regularly applying a tiny amount of Aquaphor to your damp feet. While I’m thinking about it, it also makes natural nails look healthy and with a beautiful sheen. So, if you’ve got dull nails, this will also help them!
- Post-treatment flaking and dryness: Say bye-bye to over-priced post-peel balms and use Aquaphor. This is what I recommend to all my clients who receive chemical peels to get through days of dry and flaking skin. Throw on a thin layer at night, or use to spot treat areas that peel excessively (like smile lines, dip of chin, etc.).
- Help dry, scaly, itchy body skin: Body skin always dry and scaly and sometimes itchy? Go up to the directions for hands/feet/cuticles. Use Aquaphor over damp skin… THIN layer… You do NOT need to be overly greasy. It seriously doesn’t require a thick coating of this stuff to reap benefits. Thin, thin, thin layer – over damp skin. Can I say that enough? This is also a good time to mention that Aquaphor now comes in a SPRAY application!!! It’s marvelous for legs, arms, shoulders, and back. Use it exactly as described above – on damp skin, and thin layer.
- Face, Eye and Lip mask: Give a little life back to your face, eyes and lips with Aquaphor. Use your favorite hydrating gel or spray to dampen the area (if you use an eye serum, you can use that first) then apply a nice layer of Aquaphor to your entire face or just underneath your eyes and to your lips. Leave this on 10-15 minutes then gently remove excess. When removing, just use a gentle damp cloth – no need to wash it all off, just remove excess and let the residue stay to continue conditioning and protecting your skin. Tip: I love to use rosewater underneath Aquaphor. I spritz my face with it or tap a bit under my eyes then apply the Aquaphor.
- Calm irritated skin: There are a lot of pricey products out there for various skin conditions, and Aquaphor certainly won’t answer every concern, but before investing in extremely expensive products for chapped skin, eczema, dermatitis, etc. – try Aquaphor. It really amazes me at how often this particular product out-performs very pricey options when it comes to irritated skin.
- Protect and sooth wounds and lesions: Did you pick a bit too much at that pimple you felt coming on? Been there, done that. I know it’s hard to leave them alone. Obviously, try not to – BUT when you inevitably do pick and realize you’ve just created a wound – dab it with Aquaphor here and there until it heals. The skin will be much happier, will heal better and more quickly, generally leaving less of a mark behind. There’s a reason doctors recommend Aquaphor after many cosmetic treatments and surgeries, it really is an amazing skin protectant.
There you have it – my long spill on why just about everyone should keep Aquaphor on hand. It’s worth mentioning that the generic formulas are just as good. Just check the label to make sure it reads the same as the brandname Aquaphor. I commonly buy the Walgreens version. There is zero difference except in price. When referring to Aquaphor, I am discussing the original “Healing Ointment”. They have a few different varieties now, including a baby version – but I always just use the standard formula.
Have you tried Aquaphor? Do you have any great tips of your own that I should add here? If so, just leave a comment and let me know!