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Why Vaseline Gal Is Immortal: The Story Of The Pink Oil That Works For Everything | Beauty

The smells hidden in the daily life of a past time are particularly powerful and in this sense cosmetics has a lot to say. In particular, those products with a story that are used from generation to generation and work as an element of cohesion by creating common memories among the most disparate people. One of the most representative examples in Spain is the perfumed vaseline of Gal. Before you open the lid and inhale the scent that emanates from this little salmon-pink jar, your pituitary has probably already taken a trip down memory lane. Perhaps because of its nostalgic load, this cosmetic is always one of the recurring ones in any bag.

Vaseline, a casual invention

Behind this emblematic Vaseline hides Perfumerías Gal, the company founded by Salvador Echeandía Gal in 1889. The company’s flagship product was the famous Heno de Pravia toilet soap, born at the beginning of the 20th century after a walk by its founder to through the Asturian fields. While this scented soap was and is their best-selling product, they really debuted in the industry with a very different cosmetic, Gal Oil. Today, that name would horrify any marketing expert, but back then, black gold was a powerful claim. It was a petroleum-based lotion with citrus essences that promised to fight hair loss, which is why it was first marketed to men and later won over women who were looking for shiny hair. and shiny. This precedent is relevant to know the history of its Perfumed Vaseline since the main ingredient of this cosmetic is precisely paraffin, a petroleum derivative, in addition to microcrystalline wax, produced by the degreasing of petroleum during its refining process.

Vaseline as such had officially existed since 1872, when the British-American chemist Robert Augustus Chesebrough registered it as a trade name. Its inventor discovered it by chance while visiting an oil mill in Pennsylvania. He observed how factory workers used a gelatinous substance attached to drill bits as a remedy to reduce burns and heal wounds. After experimenting for several years with the product, baptized Petroleum Jelly, with the aim of improving its formulation, he patented it under the name of Vaseline (Vaseline in English, the name under which it is marketed). It became a bestseller in the United States and quickly made the jump to Europe.

A versatile cosmetic

The pharmaceutical company Mar Santamaría, from the PromoFarma platform, highlights the versatile function of petroleum jelly as one of its strengths: “It can be apply whenever necessary to soften the lips, rough areas such as elbows or knuckles, to nourish the nail cuticles… Its main function is emollient, that is, it softens and maintains the hydration of areas of the skin that tend to dryness or tightness. Another factor in favor of the balm is its useful time of use. “Once opened (if stored well, away from sources of heat and humidity), it has a fairly long shelf life. In the event of a significant change in texture, smell, appearance… it will have to be thrown away because it may have lost its properties”, they specify to PromoFarma.

On TikTok, the new generations who like skin care gave a new use to petroleum jelly through the to bump, an original Korean facial routine method that involves adding a layer of petroleum jelly to the face as the last step of the nighttime beauty ritual, a gesture frowned upon by experts. Like any cosmetic, Vaseline also has its negative side and some voices point out that it can be occlusive. Guillermo Martín, the pharmacist behind @farmacia_enfurecida, points out another contraindication: “Being oily, it is not recommended for acne because it can aggravate flare-ups, nor in the case of dermatitis or sensitive skin.

The power of “word of mouth”

In the case of Gal’s Neutral Vaseline, its distinctiveness lies in its recognizable aroma. Building on the experience gained after the sale of perfumed toilet soap in the early 1900s, the company founded by Salvador Echandía tried its luck again decades later. By adding a sweet fragrance to their new balm, odorless in its original format, they were once again right.

When Perfumerías Gal Scented Vaseline arrived in stores, the brand already enjoyed recognized prestige. The cosmetics company, currently owned by the Puig group, has been a textbook case for its innovative advertising and marketing strategies, unknown in Spain at the beginning of the 20th century. However, unlike the intense and well-known advertising campaigns with which Petróleo Gal and later Heno de Pravia became known, in the case of its perfumed balm, no major commercial campaign was conceived. Putting the company logo on the lid was enough to convince people to buy it. Once this cosmetic reached Spanish homes, it never left them.

According to Guillermo Martín, “word of mouth” has also been decisive for the success of this product over the years. “Beyond its quality and competitive price, I think the ‘generation to generation’ factor is important. It is a petroleum jelly that has always worked well and is well known, very common at home”, comments the pharmacist and broadcaster.

Gal’s Vaseline managed to conquer the market with relative ease, but the truth is that it was not the only vaseline that existed in Spain, let alone the first. One of the oldest examples can be found in the Calduch laboratories in Castellón, where they marketed their Dermo Suavina since 1916, a vaseline that began to be sold locally in Villarreal at the end of the 19th century and is still in use today. also with a marked retro aesthetic.

Exploiting the “vintage” spirit

Second-hand sales platforms are full of vintage rarities, including original Perfumerías Gal creations, some of which have more than a century of history. By searching the net, you can also find some of the original jars of its signature scented Vaseline, presented in a metallic green container. The rounded shape, without peaks, was very appropriate when it came to using up the last remnants of the product.

The current packaging aesthetic, with its signature salmon pink color and gold lettering, has a retro look that suggests it could be the original design, but it isn’t. The only thing that remains compared to the usual balm, from a design point of view, is its circular format. And the full name, “scented neutral Vaseline”. In the Vaseline available today in perfumery, the central part, the most visible, is reserved for the “Gal” brand, a claim for nostalgics. In addition to the small 13ml size, there is a 40ml option for die-hard fans.

The golden age of Perfumerías Gal dates back to the first half of the last century, so it is not surprising that the packaging of its flagship products reinforces this vintage aspect, a visual and immediate way to connect with its history. This desire to preserve the original essence through the packaging is a common practice in the oldest cosmetics houses, but it is also a recurring commitment in recently created brands, whose design offices are committed to creating packaging that seems to come from another century. .

Following this trend, a few years ago, Gal expanded its offer with a collection of scented balms called Gal Collection. To do this, they recovered the metal packaging of the original jar and gave a nod to their famous advertisements by creating an art-deco inspired design with a woman as the protagonist on the lid of the jar. The packaging its color varied according to the aroma. The good reception of this updated version led the company to multiply the options with a long list of scents still on sale today: vanilla, orange, violet, currants…

a loyal audience

The proliferation of affordable cosmetics brands has led to aggressive competition in recent years. However, in the category of perfumed vaselines, Gal’s remains a reference. In the market of PromoFarma, represents “2% of sales, within the same category that includes it. This percentage of sales was the same in 2021 as in 2022 so far, so it seems that the public who buys it remains loyal to it”, they explain from the platform. Without advertising investment, loyalty is not always easy to maintain Gal’s “pink” Vaseline combats the risk of forgetting thanks to a powerful tool, its nostalgic charge, reinforced by a characteristic scent that some users of beauty forums strive to find in the form of perfume. Perhaps in the future Gal’s Vaseline will acquire new forms, until then this balm continues to be the king of retro cosmetics with Spanish flair.

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