How to Get Vaseline Out of Hair (Gentle Methods That Work!)


The problem with getting Vaseline in your hair is that it can be extremely difficult to remove, but no need to panic! In this guide, we’re keeping it simple and gentle, steering clear of any potential hair damage. Discover easy fixes that’ll help you ditch that residual Vaseline quickly without drying out your locks.

How to get vaseline out of hair gently

The issue with Vaseline in hair

Vaseline (aka petroleum jelly), is a byproduct derived from crude oil refining. Known for its thick and greasy texture, Vaseline is primarily used for skin moisturization and protection, but some use it sparingly for hair care.

While there are some limited uses of Vaseline in hair care, its thick and greasy oil-based nature introduces some challenges:

  • Using too much can turn your hair into an oily disaster that is difficult to wash out with regular shampooing. 
  • Prolonged use on the scalp can clog pores, potentially leading to dandruff, flakiness, ingrown hairs, and itching. 
  • Vaseline-coated hair will attract dirt and dust.
  • Prolonged use may slow down hair growth due to blocked hair follicles. Short-term use of Vaseline will not permanently block hair follicles, but proper removal is important to avoid any temporary blockage that could cause scalp and hair problems.
  • It makes you more prone to breakage, especially during brushing or styling. 

The key to using Vaseline in hair is to use a very careful and minimal approach. But, what do you do when you’ve already gotten yourself into a greasy situation?

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Overall best method: Oil and vinegar 

Gentleness: High
Effectiveness: High
Speed: Moderate

The most effective and gentle method to get Vaseline out of hair without causing damage is by using a natural oil pretreatment with a vinegar hair rinse. Plus, you’ll likely already have both of these staples in your pantry!

Materials needed:

  • Olive oil, coconut oil, or other natural oil of your choice
  • Towel and/or paper towel
  • Mild shampoo
  • Apple cider vinegar
  • Water
  • Hair conditioner (optional)

Step-by-step on how to get Vaseline out of hair with oil and vinegar: 

  1. Blot excess vaseline:
    Blot as much excess Vaseline out of your hair as possible using a regular towel or paper towel. Avoid scrubbing since this can spread the Vaseline deeper into your hair.
  2. Pre-treat with natural oil:
    Apply a natural oil like coconut oil or olive oil to the Vaseline-covered hair. Massage the oil into the hair, focusing on areas with Vaseline. Allow it to sit for at least 30 minutes. The oil will help break down the Vaseline.
  3. Use a gentle shampoo:
    After wetting your hair, use a mild, sulfate-free shampoo that won’t strip the hair of its natural oils. Baby shampoo works well. Gently lather the shampoo, focusing on the areas with Vaseline. Rinse thoroughly with warm to hot water – do not use cold!
  4. Vinegar rinse:
    Mix equal parts of water and apple cider vinegar and gently massage the mixture into your scalp and hair, focusing on areas with Vaseline. Allow the ACV mixture to sit on your hair for a couple of minutes before thoroughly rinsing it with warm water. Vinegar helps cut through grease and residue, and this rinse can be repeated as necessary to remove all vaseline.
  5. Condition:
    Apply a conditioner to the hair to restore moisture from shampooing. Some people find that the ACV rinse leaves their hair soft enough that they can skip this step. Leave the conditioner on for a few minutes to soften the hair.
  6. Comb through wet hair:
    While the hair is still wet and conditioned, use a wide-tooth comb to gently detangle. Start from the tips and work your way up to avoid breakage.
  7. Repeat if necessary:
    Depending on how much Vaseline buildup you are dealing with, you may need to repeat these steps in 12-24 hours, or if you need a quicker remedy you can try another apple cider vinegar rinse to tackle. The key is to be patient and avoid excessive force to prevent hair damage.

Did you know using apple cider vinegar as a hair treatment has several benefits?

  • Balancing pH: ACV is slightly acidic and can help balance the pH of the hair and scalp.
  • Removing Buildup: It may help remove product buildup on the hair and scalp.
  • Enhancing Shine: Some people report that an ACV rinse adds shine to their hair.
  • Reducing Dandruff: It might help with dandruff and itchy scalp for some individuals.

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Quickest method: Powders

Gentleness: Moderate
Effectiveness: Moderate
Speed: Fast

Known for its efficiency, using powder to get Vaseline out of hair combines speed with moderate gentleness and effectiveness. Powders, like cornstarch or baking soda, act as absorbents, swiftly tackling the greasy challenge of Vaseline in your hair. Their fast-acting nature makes them an ideal solution for those seeking a rapid remedy. 

Materials needed:

  • Cornstarch, baking soda, flour, baby powder, or another absorbent powder of your choice
  • Hairbrush or comb
  • Towel and/or paper towel
  • Mild shampoo
  • Hair conditioner (optional)

Step-by-step on how to get Vaseline out of hair with powders: 

  • Blot excess vaseline:
    If there’s still excess Vaseline on the surface of your hair, blot it gently with a towel. Avoid rubbing, as this can push the Vaseline deeper into the hair.
  • Apply an absorbent powder:
    Liberally sprinkle the chosen powder (cornstarch, baking soda, etc.) onto the affected areas of your hair, focusing on the Vaseline-covered areas. Ensure that the powder is evenly distributed.
  • Massage and comb through:
    Gently massage the powder into your hair, ensuring it reaches all the Vaseline-covered sections. Use a wide-tooth comb or your fingers to help distribute the powder and work it through the hair.
  • Allow it to sit:
    Let the powder sit on your hair for at least 10-15 minutes. This gives the powder time to absorb the Vaseline.
  • Brush or comb out excess powder:
    After the waiting period, use a hairbrush or comb to carefully remove the powder from your hair. This should also help lift the absorbed Vaseline.
  • Shampoo and rinse:
    Wash your hair with a mild shampoo. Focus on the areas where the Vaseline was present. Lather the shampoo and rinse thoroughly.
  • Condition
    Apply a conditioner to restore moisture. Leave the conditioner on for a few minutes before rinsing.
  • Repeat if necessary
    Depending on the severity of the Vaseline situation, you may need to repeat the process if there is still residue.

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Most effective: Baking soda paste

Gentleness: High, when not used regularly 
Effectiveness: High
Speed: Moderate

When used sparingly, a baking soda paste is just as effective as clarifying shampoos and is generally more gentle. Sensitivity varies from person to person though, so always perform a patch test and monitor how your hair and scalp respond. While a one-time treatment is fairly gentle, repeated use will cause dryness, especially when there’s no more buildup of oil/Vaseline.

Materials needed:

  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Hairbrush or comb
  • Towel and/or paper towel
  • Gentle shampoo
  • Hair conditioner (optional)

Step-by-step on how to get Vaseline out of hair with a baking soda paste: 

  • Blot excess vaseline:
    If there’s excess Vaseline on the surface of your hair, blot it gently with a towel. Avoid rubbing to prevent spreading the Vaseline deeper into your hair.
  • Create a baking soda paste:
    Mix baking soda with water to create a paste. You can adjust the ratio to achieve a consistency that can be easily applied to the hair.
  • Apply to Vaseline-covered hair:
    Gently apply the baking soda paste to the areas of the hair covered with Vaseline. Ensure that the paste is evenly distributed.
  • Let it sit:
    Allow the baking soda paste to sit on the hair for about 10-15 minutes. This gives it time to absorb and break down the Vaseline.
  • Comb through:
    Use a wide-tooth comb to gently comb through the hair, starting from the tips and working your way up. This helps to remove the baking soda and any absorbed Vaseline.
  • Shampoo hair and rinse
    Use a gentle shampoo to wash your hair, focusing on the areas where the Vaseline and baking soda paste were present. Lather the shampoo and rinse thoroughly.
  • Condition:
    Leave the conditioner on for a few minutes before rinsing it out. This step helps restore moisture to the hair.
  • Repeat if necessary:
    Depending on the amount of Vaseline in your hair, you may need to repeat the process to ensure complete removal.

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Gentlest method: Natural oil and baby shampoo

Gentleness: High
Effectiveness: Moderate
Speed: Fast

The combination of natural oils and baby shampoo is considered the gentlest option for removing Vaseline from hair and is the best option for little ones and kids.

Materials needed:

  • Natural oil (e.g., coconut, jojoba, or olive oil)
  • Baby shampoo
  • Towel and/or paper towel
  • Hair conditioner (optional)

Step-by-step on how to get Vaseline out of hair with baby shampoo:

  • Blot excess vaseline:
    If there’s excess Vaseline on the surface of your hair, blot it gently with a towel. Avoid rubbing to prevent spreading the Vaseline deeper into your hair.
  • Apply a natural oil:
    Take a generous amount of natural oil (coconut oil or olive oil) and massage it into the Vaseline-covered areas of your hair for a few minutes to allow the oil to break down the vaseline. 
  • Let it sit:
    Allow the natural oil to sit on your hair for at least 30 minutes. This gives the oil sufficient time to penetrate and break down the Vaseline.
  • Apply baby shampoo and rine:
    Wash hair with baby shampoo. Focus on the Vaseline-covered areas and lather the shampoo. Rinse your hair thoroughly with warm water.
  • Condition (Optional):
    If your hair feels dry after using the shampoo, you may choose to apply a conditioner. Leave the conditioner on for a few minutes before rinsing it out. This step helps restore moisture to the hair.
  • Repeat if necessary:
    Depending on the amount of Vaseline in your hair, you may need to repeat the process.

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More easy ways to get Vaseline out of hair

Clarifying shampoos: To remove Vaseline from hair using a clarifying shampoo, thoroughly wet your hair, apply a generous amount of the clarifying shampoo, massage it into the affected areas, let it sit in if the bottle instructs to, and rinse thoroughly. Be sure to condition your hair to replenish the stripped moisture. Always patch-test a clarifying shampoo. 

Oils on their own: While natural oils are gentle, they’re more of a very effective pre-treatment than a Vaseline removal solution on their own. For removing small amounts of vaseline, a pretreatment of oil may be all you need before shampooing as usual!

Vinegar rinse on its own: Vinegar, particularly apple cider vinegar, helps break down greasy substances like Vaseline well. While vinegar is acidic, when diluted properly with water, it’s quite gentle on the hair and scalp and can be repeated. Some people even use an apple cider vinegar and water mixture as a rinse regularly to promote hair benefits.

Skin-Safe Adhesive Remover: Adhesive removers are specifically designed to break down sticky substances and work well in removing Vaseline. Make sure to use a skin-safe one without harsh chemicals. apply a small amount to the affected areas, allowing it to penetrate for a few minutes, then gently comb through the hair to loosen the Vaseline before washing it out with shampoo.

Glycerin soap: Moderately effective and gentle. Glycerin soap can gently help cut through grease, but it’s not as effective as the other methods mentioned above. Wet the affected areas, lather the glycerin soap, and gently massage it into the hair. Allow it to sit for a few minutes, then rinse thoroughly with warm water. 

Methods to avoid

Oil-Based Soap: Oil-based soaps can effectively break down Vaseline, given their ability to cut through oils. While effective, oil-based soaps tend to be drying. Wet the affected areas, lather the oil-based soap, and gently massage it into the hair. Allow it to sit for a few minutes, then rinse with warm water. Follow up with regular shampoo.

Dish Soap: Dish soap is designed to cut through grease and is excellent in removing Vaseline. However, while convenient, it is harsh on hair, potentially causing dryness and damage. Wet the affected areas, apply a small amount of dish soap, and gently massage it into the hair. Allow it to sit for a few minutes, then rinse thoroughly with warm water. Follow up with a gentle shampoo.

Use egg whites as shampoo: While egg whites can add proteins to the hair, they are not specifically designed to break down and remove substances like Vaseline. Egg whites are not very effective in removing the greasy residue.

Peanut butter: Peanut butter’s oily texture can help break down Vaseline, but it leaves its own residue that’s also challenging to wash out.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

Can I just wait for the Vaseline to naturally wear off my hair?

While you can theoretically wait for the Vaseline to naturally wear off your hair, this will take a very long time. Vaseline is not water-soluble; it repels water, making it resistant to simple water-based washing. To get that grease out, additional measures are usually needed. 

Can I just wash out Vaseline with regular shampoo?

Washing out Vaseline with regular shampoo alone is not very effective. Regular shampoos are designed to remove dirt, oils, and styling products from the hair, but they aren’t formulated to break down and thoroughly wash out heavy oil-based substances like Vaseline.

Is Vaseline harmful to hair?

Excessive vaseline in hair leads to a greasy appearance, attracts dirt, and clogs pores, possibly causing issues like dandruff or hair breakage. When applied to the scalp, Vaseline may slow down hair growth over time. 

What is the safest way to remove Vaseline from a child’s hair?

To safely remove Vaseline from a child’s hair, begin by blotting excess Vaseline with a soft towel. Apply a gentle natural oil like coconut or olive oil, massaging it into the hair and letting it sit for at least 30 minutes. Wash with a mild baby shampoo, focusing on Vaseline-covered areas, and rinse thoroughly. Optional conditioning can be done for added moisture.

Can I use any oil to get Vaseline out of my hair, or are specific oils needed?

While various oils can be used to remove Vaseline from hair, coconut oil, olive oil, jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, and mineral oil are most effective due to their properties. 

What’s the quickest way to get vaseline out of hair?

Using powders like cornstarch, baking soda, or baby powder, is one of the fastest methods for removing Vaseline from hair. Simply blot excess Vaseline with a paper towel, apply powder to Vaseline areas, let it sit for 10-15 minutes to absorb, comb through, shampoo, condition, and rinse thoroughly. Gently pat your hair dry. Adjust powder amount based on Vaseline severity.

Does Vaseline come out with water?

Vaseline is not water-soluble, meaning it does not easily dissolve or wash out with water alone. Its thick and greasy nature makes it resistant to simple water-based washing. Vaseline is often difficult to remove from hair without additional measures such as oil pretreatment, powders, or clarifying shampoos.


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