Petroleum jelly, commonly known by its brand name Vaseline, is a mixture of natural waxes and mineral oils. According to the company that makes it, the Vaseline blend creates a protective barrier on the skin, sealing in existing moisture.

Petroleum jelly has multiple skin care uses, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). These range from helping skin heal to relieving dry skin and boosting nail health.

Can these benefits extend to your hair? Read on to find out.

The hair on your head only grows around six inches a year. Those who don’t want to wait usually search for a hair growth elixir. Vaseline crops up quite a lot — both for the hair on your head and your lashes and eyebrows.

The theory behind this is simple. While Vaseline doesn’t have any moisturizing properties, the protective layer it creates can lock in moisture from moisturizing products. This might make your hair less prone to breakage.

There’s no scientific evidence to support the popular claim that Vaseline makes your hair grow faster. It might protect your hair against breakage and dryness, but it won’t encourage your hair to grow at a faster rate.

Some people also warn against applying Vaseline to your scalp or face, claiming that it can create a breeding ground for bacteria or even block hair follicles. But there’s no evidence to back up these claims, either.

Some claim that petroleum jelly can also be an easy way to combat scalp dryness, and there may be some truth to this. The American Academy of Family Physicians recommends using petroleum jelly to manage cradle cap in infants.

Others find that a small amount of Vaseline works well as a styling gel to reduce frizz, but it may be too heavy for thin or fine hair.

There are several ways to use Vaseline on your hair, depending on the benefits you’re looking for. While there’s not much evidence that you’ll get noticeable results, there isn’t much risk in trying, either.

Make sure to do a patch test first if you’ve never used Vaseline before. This involves applying a small amount to an inconspicuous area of skin and watching the area for any signs of irritation or an allergic reaction for 24 hours.

For hair health

Even though there’s no research to support hair growth, you may want to try putting a tiny amount of Vaseline on your finger — aim for no bigger than the size of a pea. Gently massage it into your scalp. Do this process once per week.

You can also try applying a small amount onto the ends of your hair each day to potentially prevent breakage.

Some people swear by Vaseline hair masks for healthier looking locks. You can try applying Vaseline and leaving on overnight or for just a few hours.

Alternatively, you can try applying Vaseline over your favorite moisturizing hair mask. Vaseline’s protective properties may help to lock in moisture from the treatment.

If opting for an overnight mask, don’t forget to cover your head with something like a shower cap to avoid staining your sheets.

For eyebrows and lashes

For eyebrows, apply a very small amount — think smaller than a grain of rice — a couple of times a day. Vaseline can also be applied to eyelashes before bed. Use your finger or a cotton swab and go from the root outwards.

Although Vaseline claims its product is noncomedogenic, the AAD warns against putting it on your face if you’re prone to breakouts.

Be sure to keep petroleum jelly out of your eyes. If it does enter your eye, flush it out with warm water.

For dandruff or dry scalp

To combat flakiness, try massaging a small amount of Vaseline into your scalp before rinsing with shampoo.

There’s one very important thing to remember here: Vaseline is incredibly difficult to get out of hair, especially if you use too much of it.

When you do want to remove it from your hair, shampoo is your best bet. You may need to wash your hair with warm water several times to get rid of the greasy feeling. If your usual shampoo formula doesn’t seem to be having much effect, try adding a teaspoon of baking soda.

If Vaseline isn’t living up to the hype, there are other things you can try to encourage your locks to grow:

  • Change up your diet. Protein, vitamins, and minerals are all touted as a way of making hair healthier and stronger. Try stocking up on fish, whole grains, and nuts as well as boosting your intake of zinc, iron, omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamins A, C, and E.
  • Apply a hair mask. Investing in a deep conditioning mask may help prevent breakage, allowing hair to grow. Use once a week or follow package instructions for the best results.
  • Take supplements. If you’re having a hard time altering your diet, vitamin supplements may help. Anything marketed for hair and containing biotin or keratin is probably worth your while.
  • Try essential oils. Peppermint, lavender, and rosemary oil may generate faster hair growth. Either apply to your scalp directly and massage in or add a few drops to your shampoo or conditioner.
  • See your doctor. There are many procedures and medications for hair growth and one of them might be perfect for you.

Aside from personal anecdotes, there’s no credible evidence that Vaseline promotes hair growth. It may be a good addition to your hair care routine for other benefits, but it likely won’t become your new secret weapon for long, luscious hair.

If you have concerns about hair growth, try alternative options or see your healthcare provider for more treatment solutions.