Vaseline is the main (trademarked) commercial name for petroleum jelly. Vaseline is a form of purified crude petroleum. It has existed in this preparation since 1899, the trademark being owned by Chesebrough-Ponds — although at this point the trademark has arguably been diluted to the point where "vaseline" has become a generic term.
It soothes and smoothes rough or dry skin, and is widely used in tattooing and piercing. It should be noted that vaseline, as an oil-based substance, can cause rubber items (such as condoms and surgical gloves) to rot and develop holes, leading to loss of sterility.
Its main uses in tattooing are:
1. Application to the skin area about to be tattooed, lubricating the surface and ensuring that the tattoo machine passes over the skin smoothly and in a controlled fashion.
2. Application to the fresh tattoo, preventing fluid loss, reducing itching and preventing any surgical dressing used from sticking to the tattoo.
It is also one of the many options when keeping the skin over a healing tattoo in good condition.
Its main uses in piercing are:
1. Application to the end of a needle, smoothing the passage of the body of the needle through the skin.
2. Application to the end of a piece of jewelry or taper, easing the passage of the jewelry through the piercing. This is an especially important use when stretching a piercing, and helps to avoid tissue damage due to excessive force being used to push the item through.
(Note: petroleum jelly is not usually used in piercing as a lubricant in North America, although it is commonly used in the UK and other areas)