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10 Brilliant Uses for Petroleum Jelly That May Surprise You

Petroleum jelly, otherwise known as petrolatum, is a miraculous mixture of oils and waxes. We don’t use “miraculous” lightly, either. Vaseline is the most common petroleum jelly product. Because petroleum jelly is an occlusive — which means its main job is to seal in moisture and provide a barrier for your skin — it’s often used to heal minor cuts and abrasions.

While beauty experts sing its praises, petroleum jelly has other surprising uses as well, and some have nothing to do with beauty! One thing is certain: Petroleum jelly can sure make a lot of things easier. Read on to find out why everyone needs a little petroleum jelly in their lives.

Guarantee a perfect manicure.

On rainy days, you love to relax by giving yourself an at-home manicure. The only problem? You always end up with polish all over your skin! To avoid the mess in the future, simply dab petroleum jelly around your nail beds before you begin painting on polish. The jelly forms a barrier between skin and polish — and wipes right off with a cloth once you’re done. (Click through to see how petroleum jelly can treat dents in nails, too.)

Mask coffee table scratches.

The day before your sister is due to visit, you notice your coffee table has a few minor nicks. The save: Smear petroleum jelly on the marks and let sit overnight. The jelly’s oils plump up the surrounding wood, essentially filling in blemishes. Just wipe with a cloth in the morning, then polish as usual.

Stop a cut from bleeding.

Eek! You accidentally nicked your finger chopping up onions for your casserole, and you don’t have any bandages on hand. Petroleum jelly to the rescue! Just use a cotton swab to dab some petroleum jelly on the cut. The waxy substance will seal the cut, helping to block blood flow and allow the blood to clot just as well as a bandage would.

Revive a dingy leather bag.

Favorite leather purse looking a bit worse for wear after yet another season of use? Try this: Rub petroleum jelly into the leather with a soft cloth. Then wipe away the excess. The jelly’s oil base will replace the fabric’s lost moisture for a shiny, like-new appearance.

Wax-proof a candleholder.

You love using taper candles for a dinner party, but melted wax makes it tough to remove them from their holders. The save: Rub petroleum jelly around the candle bottom before placing in the holder. The slick jelly creates a barrier that keeps wax from hardening, so candles slip out easily.

Remove a lipstick stain with ease.

The trick to keeping a spot of lipstick from setting on fabric: Apply enough petroleum jelly to cover and let sit for two to three minutes. Then rub in vigorously with your fingers and wash as usual. The jelly’s glycerin dissolves the lipstick’s oils so the stain comes off in the wash.

Ensure oven racks slide effortlessly.

You can’t wait to bake batches of your famous sugar cookies, but the last time you used the oven, the racks wouldn’t slide out without yanking or tugging. What can help: Before heating up the oven, put a thin coat of petroleum jelly on the rack’s edges and rub in with a cloth. The slick coating will make it a cinch to move the oven rack when it’s time to grab your treats.

Help protect a dog’s paws.

Poor Fido! Lately the dry air has caused your pup’s feet to become cracked and sore, causing him to sadly whimper every time you take him on his walk. For quick relief, apply a dime-size amount of petroleum jelly to each paw and massage into the pads before you head outside. The thin layer will hydrate the sensitive skin on his feet and keep it from getting dried out and feeling uncomfortable.

Improve a plunger’s power.

Oh no! Your bathroom sink won’t drain properly and your plunger won’t suction to the sink’s bottom, making it impossible to pump. Simply coat the rim of the tool with petroleum jelly, then place it over the drain. This will moisten the plunger’s rubber seal so it sticks to the sink. Your sink will be unclogged in no time!

Get a youthful glow fast.

Blush is an easy way to give yourself a youthful glow, but when powder settles into fine lines, it makes them more prominent, defeating the purpose. The solution: Mix equal parts red lipstick and petroleum jelly on top of your hand, then use a makeup sponge to gently dab it over your cheekbones. The jelly’s glossy finish will leave skin luminous and dewy, and the lipstick will provide a healthy flush.

This article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.

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