How to Use Aquaphor on Your Face for Perfect Skin, Says Dermatologists

Hot take: The secret to dewy-AF skin isn’t that $110 serum you keep adding and deleting from your cart—it’s actually a $6 tube of Aquaphor. Seriously, take a quick scroll through Reddit’s r/SkincareAddiction (aka the skincare-obsessed community of dermatologist-level fanatics) and you’ll discover that Aquaphor has a super devoted fan base (I mean, some people have even gone so far as to call it “the Nectar of the Gods”). It’s all chalked up to Aquaphor’s ability to help hydrate and restore the driest, most irritated of skin types, turning your face in a smooth, dewy little gum drop.

But if your history with Aquaphor doesn’t stem past the occasional treating of dry, flaky spots (anyone else use it as lip balm during the winter?), you’re probably wondering how TF you work it into your skincare routine. Don’t worry though—that’s where I come into the equation. Keep reading to figure out everything you need to know about using Aquaphor on your face, including the right time of day to apply it, whether or not it will break you out, and more.

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What does Aquaphor do for your face?

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Aquaphor Advanced Therapy Healing Ointment

Aquaphor
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$6.16

K, before you understand how Aquaphor works, you should know WTF it actually is. Aquaphor is made mostly of petroleum (a blend of mineral oils and waxes), lanolin (a greasy emollient that’s derived from sheep’s wool—more on that later), and glycerin (a gentle hydrator that pulls moisture from the air into your skin), all of which work together to create a protective barrier over your skin, kinda like a gentle, soothing hug.

Cool, but what does that mean? Basically, “Aquaphor prevents water from evaporating from your face, helping to improve your skin barrier and keep it healthy,” says Rachel Nazarian, MD, dermatologist at the Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC. And a healthy, hydrated skin barrier means fewer breakouts, less redness and irritation, and even decreased fine lines and wrinkles. That’s why users across r/SkincareAddiction swear Aquaphor has the ability to transform irritated, dry skin into happy, smooth skin.

Can you use Aquaphor on your eyelashes or eyebrows?

Yup, you totally can—as long as you go into it knowing that Aquaphor won’t grow your lashes or brows, says dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD, associate clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine. Think of Aquaphor as a conditioner: It’s a great way to help strengthen your lashes and brows so they look shinier and healthier over time. Just make sure you’re extra careful when applying Aquaphor (or anything, really) near your eyes—and if you notice any redness or irritation, chat with your dermatologist.

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Is Aquaphor a moisturizer?

Nope, not exactly. Aquaphor is an occlusive, which is a fancy-sounding word that means it acts like a skincare blanket, swaddling all the good-for-you ingredients from your serums, toners, and moisturizers close to your skin to make them more effective. But on its own, occlusives don’t actually do any of the moisturizing.

Instead, its power is unlocked when you layer it over your skincare products, a technique that my friends over at r/SkincareAddiction call “slugging” (since your face will look as shiny as a slug’s slime trail. Yum!). You just apply a very thin layer of Aquaphor over your face as the final step of your nightly skincare routine (yup, after your moisturizer, your oils, whatever) and let it work its magic by, well, doing nothing. It just sits there and supervises your skincare, making the formulas work better and harder.

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“I’ve been using Aquaphor for the past few days based on a recommendation,” wrote one user, “and I cannot believe how it has cleared my blemishes, removed dark circles, filled-in small lines and did not break me out.” And, says another user, “My pores are less visible, my under-eye area looks amazing. My skin feels [unbelievably] comfortable.”

And it’s not just skincare-obsessives who stand by the technique—dermatologists are fans too. “I think slugging is truly the best kept secret—I do it every single night,” says Dr. Gohara. “It really helps build a strong barrier, which makes the application of things like antioxidants, retinoids, and peptides way smoother.”

Cool, right? …But also sounds too good to be true. Which brings us to…

Does Aquaphor break you out?

aquaphor on face

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Though there aren’t any true breakout-inducing ingredients in Aquaphor (it’s non-comedogenic, so it won’t trigger acne), Dr. Gohara says it’s a bit too occlusive for the majority of folks with acne-prone or oily skin. Plus, Dr. Nazarian warns that “slugging” during humid and hot seasons could block your pores from sweating properly, since the formula is so thick. “When sweat and oil can’t escape through your pores as they should, you might start to see an acne-like sweat rash, which can look like itchy red bumps,” she says.

Of course, it’s unlikely you’ll be slathering a heavy layer of Aquaphor on your face then going for a jog in the middle of July (most people tend to slug at night when it’s actually more effective), but if you’re extra prone to sweating while you sleep or you have incredibly oily skin, you may want to skip this hack. As you know, everyone’s skin is different, and what works for your super-dry face might not work for your roommate’s oily T-zone.

What’s the difference between Aquaphor and Vaseline?

Although Aquaphor and Vaseline are usually thrown into the same category (they’re both occlusives, and they’re both used for slugging), there’s actually a fairly important difference between the two: Vaseline doesn’t contain lanolin, and Aquaphor does.

Lanolin may sound gross—it’s harvested from already-shorn sheep’s wool—but it’s totally natural, and it’s been used as a tried-and-true skin salve for hundreds of years. If you’re allergic to lanolin (it’s not common, but those with eczema or dermatitises are more likely to have a reaction), try slugging with Vaseline instead. But if you really want a thick, rich, won’t-slip-off-your-face moisturizer to really soothe your skin issues, you might wanna stick with lanolin-filled Aquaphor instead.

The bottom line

Okay, so Aquaphor definitely shouldn’t replace your moisturizer (because, you know, it isn’t a moisturizer), but it can help your skin better heal itself by locking in water and upping the effects of your usual skincare products, which, says Dr. Nazarian, “can make your skin softer and dewier over time.”

When it comes down to it, slugging certainly doesn’t work for everyone, and it’s always best to run anything new by your dermatologist before you try it. But if you (and your skin) are in the clear, try slathering on some Aquaphor every few nights and see if it’s the key you’ve been missing. Just be prepared to sacrifice your pillowcase in this pursuit of dewy skin (all’s fair in skin and war, right?).

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3 thoughts on “How to Use Aquaphor on Your Face for Perfect Skin, Says Dermatologists

  • December 8, 2020 at 6:45 pm
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    Umm,OK. But my point is that I don’t understand what it is about the last sentence you don’t understand? Please explain. What do you mean by “average”?

    Reply

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