How to Get Vaseline out of Your Hair

Three Methods:Reducing the Amount of Vaseline in Your HairUsing Dry IngredientsUsing Wet Ingredients

Vaseline can be one of the toughest substances to get out of your hair, but finding yourself with an oily, petroleum-jelly coated mess is actually more common than you'd think. It can be used to suffocate lice, to prevent scarring after surgery, to remove a wad of gum... and sometimes your little brother just decides to smear it all over his head. Regardless of the reason it's there, you want gone. Here are a few tricks you can try before you reach for the scissors.

Method 1
Reducing the Amount of Vaseline in Your Hair

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    Blot your hair with paper towels. You may have success in removing much of the Vaseline by soaking it up with an absorbent paper towel. Starting off with less product in your hair can make it easier to remove the remaining petroleum jelly--because it is so difficult to get out, you will probably have to repeat your method of choice several times to remove all the petroleum jelly. Soaking some of it up may reduce the number of treatments you have to give your hair.[1]
    • You can use a hand-held hair dryer (or a hood hair dryer if you have access to one) to heat up and liquefy the Vaseline. It may be easier to absorb it with the paper towels in this state.[2]
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    Comb through your hair with a fine-toothed comb. If you have thick globs of Vaseline tangling up your hair, combing it out may remove some of the product. Make sure you wipe off the comb after each stroke so you're not just spreading it around your hair.[3]
    • You may want to follow up the combing by squeezing your hair with a paper towel. This will absorb even more of the petroleum jelly still in your hair.

Method 2
Using Dry Ingredients

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    Apply a light layer of corn starch to the affected area. Cornstarch is highly absorbent and should bind to the oil-based petroleum jelly.[4] It may also be called corn flour or maize starch.
    • If you don't have corn starch on-hand, you can try baking powder or baby powder instead.[5]
    • No matter which agent you use (corn starch, baby powder, baking powder), be careful not to inhale any of the particles. It can irritate the delicate tissues in your lungs.[6]
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    Pat the corn starch into the hair. Rubbing can damage your hair or be abrasive to your skin, but you do want the powder to reach all the vaseline in your hair. Patting it will help push the corn starch into your hair.[7] Allow the corn starch to sit for a few minutes, giving it time to absorb the oil.
    • Make sure you cover all of the Vaseline-coated hair with the corn starch. You want to get as much of the Vaseline absorbed as possible--this may prevent you from having to repeat the process.[8]
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    Rinse your hair with warm water and apply a clarifying shampoo. Cold water may cause the Vaseline to congeal and thicken, making it even more difficult to remove.[9] Clarifying shampoo is easy to find and is used to remove excess oil and product build-up from hair.[10]
    • Shampoo your hair twice with the clarifying shampoo. This may dry out your hair some, but it will help make sure you get out as much of the oil as possible.[11]
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    Rinse your hair well, making sure you have removed as much corn starch, Vaseline, and shampoo as possible. Towel-blot your hair dry and allow it to air dry.[12]
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    Repeat in 12-24 hours if there is still some remaining residue from the Vaseline. The corn starch and clarifying shampoo may have absorbed and stripped away much of your hair's natural oil. Giving your hair time to recover will decrease the likelihood of damage.[13]

Method 3
Using Wet Ingredients

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    Rub your hair with natural oils, like coconut oil, olive oil, or jojoba oil. It may seem strange, but to dissolve oil, you need more oil. Massage a good amount of oil into your hair, wring out as much as you can (make sure you do this in a bathtub).[14]
    • Wash your hair twice with clarifying shampoo and warm water.
    • Added bonus: the oil will moisturize your skin![15]
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    Find a product that is approved to remove heavy-duty grease from your skin. You may be able to track down make-up remover that is made specifically to remove grease paint makeup (like what clowns or people in theatre wear). You may also want to try products (like Swarfega) that are used by mechanics, printers, or engineers to remove grease from their skin. These products are designed to dilute and lift grease, and may be able to break down the oil in the petroleum and release it from your hair.[16]
    • Carefully apply the product to the affected area. Wait a few minutes before rinsing, allowing the product to work on the Vaseline.
    • Rinse your hair and repeat as necessary.
    • Only use products approved for use on skin, and even then be very careful with the application. Make sure you don't let any drip into your eyes.
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    Use liquid dish soap with degreaser to cut through the oil. This method will not be great for your hair and can dry out your skin, too, but it has worked for many people. Use the the dish soap like a shampoo, working it through your hair and then rinsing with warm water.[17] Repeat twice and pat your hair dry with a towel. You will definitely want to condition your hair afterwards, as it will be stripped of all its natural oils.[18]
    • Be careful not to get any detergent in your eyes. A detachable shower head may be helpful when rinsing your hair--you can hold it right up to your scalp and use your free hand to shield your eyes.
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Things You'll Need

Reducing the Amount of Vaseline

  • Absorbent paper towels
  • Comb
  • Hair dryer

Dry Ingredients

  • Corn starch
  • Clarifying shampoo
  • Warm water

Wet Ingredients

  • Clarifying shampoo
  • Olive oil, coconut oil, or jojoba oil
  • Degreasing liquid dish soap

Sources and Citations

Article Info

Categories: Hair Remedies