The K-Beauty Trend curing dry skin - A miracle skincare hack
By Ali Pantone and Fiona Embleton, Glamour Magazine
The elements can wreak havoc with our skin and yet one K beauty hack is being hailed as the Holy Grail for baby smoothness. Fans claim slugging, a technique popularised on Reddit and TikTok (to date, #slugging has 873.3M views and counting), provides immediate relief and locks in hydration whether you're naturally prone to dry skin or temporarily starved of moisture as a result of air-conditioning in summer or blasts of central heating in winter.
But what exactly is slugging and is it a legit skincare solution? Keep scrolling to find out…
What is slugging?
Slugging involves coating your face in Vaseline or other petroleum-based products before bed and after your usual nighttime skincare routine. Hence the name, which refers to how slimy your face looks afterwards – like a slug crawled over your face and left behind a greasy trail. The idea is to create an occlusive protective barrier, which will prevent water loss from your skin during the night and seal in all the hydrating goodness from your skincare products.
What is the slugging method?
"Slugging is the process of using a petroleum-based product on your skin to prevent dryness, protect your moisture barrier and boost the glow," explains @skincarebyhyram in a little more detail. “Petroleum has a bad reputation but it's one of the best ingredients for sealing moisture in your skin, and no, it's not pore-clogging.”
Hyram goes onto explain that if your skin is dry, dehydrated, flaky, stripped or you suffer a broken moisture barrier, slugging can help lock in much-needed moisture into your skin. But if your skin type is oily or combination, slugging may be too heavy for your complexion.
Another option is to practice slugging on targeted areas, should you wish to avoid a somewhat sticky face during the night, or if you have patches of flaky skin or areas of fine lines and wrinkles that need an extra shot of moisture.
In terms of your nighttime routine, you want to cleanse and exfoliate before applying a humectant-based moisturiser laced with hyaluronic acid or glycerin. Then apply your petroleum-based product over the top. Remember, its sole job is to sit on the surface layer of skin and act as roadblock to these humectant ingredients evaporating from the skin while you sleep.
Is slugging good for your skin?
Slugging is not for everyone and dermatologists are divided on how good it really is for your skin. Some, like New York board-certified dermatologist Dr Whitney Bowe, says that slugging can be great for super dry skin and those with eczema.
For her, no matter how much moisturiser you put onto chapped skin, it's that final occlusive layer of petrolatum that really helps to heal the damaged skin barrier and prevent water from seeping out. But she does have these words of warning about the products you apply underneath. “Just be careful of what you put underneath that layer of Vaseline” Dr Bowe notes. “You do not want to use retinol, retinoids, AHAs, beta hydraoxy acids as those can be really irritating."
The basic deal is this: when trapped underneath an occlusive layer, you drive these actives deeper into the skin, meaning their strength and side-effects can be unpredictable. Instead she recommends leaning on a fragrance-free moisturiser.
Likewise, it's worth noting that slugging is also not ideal for people who are prone to milia – those tiny white or yellowish cysts that form in clusters near the eyes, mouth and on the cheeks.
Does slugging cause acne?
Yes and no. Despite feeling greasy, Vaseline isn't comedogenic so it won't clog pores. But when used as an occlusive layer, there's the danger that you'll trap bacteria and the skin's oils underneath, which can lead to breakouts.
How often should you do slugging?
If you have dry skin, or you have been overzealous with an at-home peel or retinol cream, you may benefit from daily slugging for a week to get your sensitised skin back on an even keel. However, those with oily skin should proceed with caution or indeed avoid slugging altogether.