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Technically a wax, petrolatum acts as an occlusive moisturizer, keeping water in the skin and other substances out. It is derived from petroleum.

Petrolatum (Wikipedia)
Petroleum jelly.

Petroleum jelly, petrolatum, white petrolatum, soft paraffin or multi-hydrocarbon, CAS number 8009-03-8, is a semi-solid mixture of hydrocarbons (with carbon numbers mainly higher than 25), originally promoted as a topical ointment for its healing properties.

After petroleum jelly became a medicine chest staple, consumers began to use it for a myriad of ailments as well as cosmetic purposes, including toenail fungus, genital rashes (non-STD), nosebleeds, diaper rash, and chest colds. Its folkloric medicinal value as a "cure-all" has since been limited by better scientific understanding of appropriate and inappropriate uses. It is recognized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an approved over-the-counter (OTC) skin protectant, and remains widely used in cosmetic skin care.

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