Skincare Slugging Is Going Viral, But a Derm Warns About These Dos and Don’ts

From hydrocolloid bandages becoming acne treatments to using “frozen moisturizer,” TikTok has become the top destination for discovering strange skincare trends. While the social media app might not be the birthplace of some of these beauty hacks, it’s become a platform where they can truly flourish. Case in point: skincare slugging. The oddly named trend has reached massive popularity over the past year thanks to TikTok skinfluencers touting it as a fairly easy way to lock moisture into the skin via Vaseline or another petrolatum-based ointment.

So what is slugging, exactly? According to Tracy Evans MD, MPH, board-certified dermatologist and medical director of Pacific Skin and Cosmetic Dermatology, “Slugging is the process of covering the skin (of the face usually) with an occlusive product such as Vaseline (petroleum jelly), Aquaphor or a very heavy cream-based moisturiser and keeping it on overnight.” The process may be especially relevant to dry-skin peeps, as it’s “intended to keep moisture in the skin by preventing transdermal water loss.”

While the incredibly catchy “slugging” term has only been in the beauty sphere for a few years, thanks to the K-beauty community and various skincare subreddits, the concept of using Vaseline to seal in moisture in the skin isn’t anything new. After all, Vaseline is an old-school product that can be found in almost any medicine cabinet. It has a variety of uses, from healing burns and scrapes to treating diaper rash, preventing chafing and moisturising dry skin. Marilyn Monroe swore by Vaseline in order to keep it soft and glowy. (She reportedly applied it every morning before going into a three-hour bath.)

“It was recently given a name and made popular by the Korean skincare world. However, growing up with two Black grandmothers, I was ‘slugging’ far before it was popular,” explains Tiffany L. Clay, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Atlanta, USA. “I remember my grandmother teaching me when I was very young to apply ointment to my body after I bathed to keep me moisturised all day.”

So, ready to find out the dos and don’ts of slugging and whether it’s something you should try or avoid? Keep scrolling for the dos and don’ts, according to experts.

This is where Vaseline comes in. You can also use Aquaphor or CeraVe. “My favourite product for slugging is CeraVe Healing Ointment,” says Evans.

“Use a moisturiser or hydrating serum prior to applying your slugging product of choice,” says Clay. They’ll get sealed into your skin nicely thanks to the Vaseline or other product you decide to use.

“Slugging works by preventing TEWL (transepidermal water loss) so the skin stays hydrated and the skin barrier is protected and allowed to repair itself,” explains Clay.

“Occluding the pores may lead to more oil build-up and clogged pores, which means worsening acne,” explains Clay. Stick to non-comedogenic, lightweight options instead.

Instead, Clay says, try slugging on any small areas where you find dryness. (FYI: This lip therapy tin is great for spot-treating dry areas—the formula is identical!)

This is all about decreasing your risk for irritation. Stick to your less active serums and moisturisers instead.

Invoke your inner Marilyn Monroe, and seal in your skin with good ol‘ Vaseline.

We’ve already mentioned it above, but one of the best options for slugging is Aquaphor, which is especially good if you want something that’s a tad lighter than Vaseline.

This moisturiser from Ole Henriksen contains rich shea butter and three different sources of skin-brightening vitamin C.

This super-nourishing cream is rich in all of the right ways. It contains ceramides to help restore the skin barrier and lock in moisture and also helps to combat itching and discomfort caused by dryness. It delivers all of the stuff you want locked in there! 

Don’t want to use Vaseline and want to feel fancy? Slug with La Mer’s healing elixir for a bougie experience. 

This face cream contains the brand’s signature barley EGF, which targets wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and loss of firmness.

This moisturising cream is rich enough to be used on the body (as well as the face) and contains a powerfully hydrating concoction of ceramides and hyaluronic acid. It is also widely considered by experts to be one of the most effective affordable moisturisers around.

Next up, I speak to dermatologists every day—these are the brands they always recommend.

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