Banishing Bad Hair Days since 1997!™

Vaseline In The Hair


Today I had yet another AskKaren "hair disaster" email. A mom wrote to tell me that her 15 year old daughter had used Vaseline to create faux dreads on her gorgeous waist length hair.

The good news was that the faux dreads turned out great. Unfortunately, the bad news was that the Vaseline could not be removed from the hair. Nothing worked. After many unsuccessful shampoo attempts the mom decided that the only option was the scissors. Luckily she decided to email me before she took this last irreversible step.

Is there a way to remove Vaseline from the hair without scissors? Yes, absolutely. The treatment that I describe below works about 90% of the time after the first treatment. It will work 95-99% of the time after two treatments.

If the first remedy doesn't do the trick, read on, I have included optional treatments for stubborn Vaseline slicks. Keep in mind that Vaseline is a Petroleum based product made from crude oil. It's hard to believe that back in the 1950, Vaseline made a hair shampoo that promised shiny and silky tresses.

Note: If you find this remedy all over the Internet it is important to note that this article was the first of its kind to appear on the Web. All the others you find are copycats of this original article.

Steps For Removing Vaseline From The Hair

STEP 1: Take a paper towel and blot as much of the Vaseline from the hair as possible onto the paper towel. Do not rub as this can damage the hair. Blot and pat carefully.

STEP 2: Apply a little cornstarch or cornmeal powder (do not use baby powder as it can be harmful to the lungs) to the sections of the hair that contains the Vaseline. Blot or pat the cornstarch onto the hair. Again, do not rub. Make sure that the entire area of Vaseline is covered with a light amount of the cornstarch or cornmeal powder.

STEP 3: Once the hair has been completely covered step into a warm, not hot, shower. Apply a good clarifying shampoo to the palms of your hand and then apply to the hair.

STEP 4: Shampoo twice to make sure that all the cornstarch and the Vaseline are removed from your hair.

STEP 5: Rinse with warm water until clear.

STEP 6: Apply a good rinse out conditioner to your hair. This is important since the two applications of clarifying shampoo will tend to dry out most hair.

STEP 7: Rinse well and do a cool or cold water final rinse.

STEP 8: Towel blot hair. Apply a good detangling product, pick out tangles and then let the hair air dry.

If all the Vaseline is not removed during the first treatment, do another treatment in 12-24 hours. That should successfully eliminate all of the Vaseline residue.

Why do you have to use cornstarch or cornmeal powder? The cornstarch binds with the Vaseline and allows it to be carried out of the hair by the shampoo. Without a binding agent (like cornstarch or cornflower) the Vaseline just remains attached to the hair cuticle.

Although some visitors have reported success with white flour and other similar binding agents, the best results seem to be guaranteed with the cornstarch or cornmeal powder.

The Downside

I won't lie to you, applying cornstarch or similar powders is very messy. Be sure to apply the removal remedy in the bathroom where it is easy to contain the flying powder. Some people have reported great success standing in a dry bathtub and then apply the powder. Once they are finished they simply turn on the bath water and remove a lot of the cornstarch residue.

Other Options Besides Cornstarch

If you don't have cornstarch or don't want the mess or have tried cornstarch and failed, listed below are some other known remedies that have had some level of success although not as much as the cornstarch remedy.

1. Sit under a hood hairdryer or use a hand held blowdryer to soften the gooey mess. As the Vaseline is heated, it will become liquidified and can be more easily blotted with paper towels. The more of the Vaseline your remove before applying the cornstarch or similar powder, the better. If you prefer, skip the cornstarch step and after removing as much of the softened Vaseline from the hair and scalp, wash with a clarifying shampoo.

Why a clarifying shampoo? These formulas are designed to remove excess styling product or environmental build-up from the hair. They are also great for removing hair greases and pomades.

2. Blot off as much of the Vaseline as possible. Then slather with plain peanut butter. Some people have had better luck with this removal method than cornstarch. Others have reported that they had better luck with the cornstarch. If you are uncertain of the results, apply a small amount of plain, not crunchy, peanut butter to Vaseline infused hair that has been blotted with paper towels. Rub gently and then remove with a paper towel. If the peanut butter appears to do the trick, apply to the rest of the hair and finish with a shampoo using a clarifying product or one that advertises it removes grease and grime.

3. A GooBeGone or similar products will often help remove any Vaseline left after blotting the excess with paper towels. Try blow drying the Vaseline, blotting with paper towels and then applying a goo removal product. Some have reported success with a goo remover. Others have not fared as well.

Some other possible removal formulas include a beaten egg worked into the Vaseline smeared hair, rinsing several times with apple cider vinegar and rinsing with fresh lemon juice.

What Not To Use When Removing Vaseline

Although some people suggest the option of using regular dish washing soap, ordinary bars of soap or glycerine soap on Vaseline infused hair, think long and hard before you try these options. Yes, you might get the Vaseline out a little quicker and it may be less messy, but the dish washing soap will also strip the natural oils from your hair along with the Vaseline leaving behind dry and stripped tresses. If you don't care what the potential collateral damage will be from using dish washing liquid, feel free to try it but I personally do not recommend it.


I hope that all of you reading this article can help me spread this word that Vaseline is not the best styling product to use to create faux dreads on any type of hair. If you want the Jennifer Anniston dreads look for a temporary time period use a good hair grease or a very soft hair paste. Edwin Paul's Uncle Bubby is a soft hair grease that works great and washes out easily with shampoo.

If you want to talk more about this or other hair care articles on or anywhere else, please post a message on's Hair Talk Forums.

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