TikTok Trend Watch: What Is Slugging Skincare & Should You Try It?

By Emily M.| Last updated on January 18, 2024
tiktok slugging skincare trend explained
⏱️ 6 min read

Scrolling through your TikTok feed and all you can see are unbelievable transformations of people whose skin went from glowless to flawless overnight — and it’s all because of slugging?

This viral trend has taken the beauty industry by storm, so it’s only natural for you to feel a bit intrigued and tempted.

But, what exactly is slugging skincare, does it work, and should you try it?

Read on to find out the answer, along with some expert tips, tricks, and product picks to help you master the slugging technique from the start.

What Is Slugging Skincare?

You may have just discovered slugging, but this skincare hack has been featured in Korean beauty routines for decades and it’s all about that dewy, fresh, and young-looking skin that appears plump and hydrated.

The technique got its name from the shiny, slug-like sheen it leaves on the skin — slimy at first, but super glamorous in the long run.

The process involves applying a petroleum-based moisturizer and leaving it overnight to act as a physical seal on top of the natural skin barrier and lock in precious moisture.

Why petroleum? Research suggests that products composed of oils and waxes are the most effective occlusives, helping to reduce transepidermal water loss (TEWL) by almost 99%.

Impressive, right?

Is Slugging Good for Your Skin?

Yes, slugging definitely has its benefits!

If you’re feeling skeptical, you have every right to be. TikTok beauty hacks are often exciting and promising, but rarely derm-approved.

However, when it comes to slugging, there’s no need for you to worry, because it’s a tried and tested trick with amazing results.

Let’s take a look at how slugging actually works in skincare.

Can All Skin Types Benefit from Slugging?

According to the FDA, petroleum, the main ingredient in slugging products, has powerful protective and nourishing properties, meaning it’s ideal for healing and soothing dry and flaky skin.

Also, it is often used as a protectant in healing ointments, typically for the management of overly sensitive and easily irritated skin to help with itching, cracking or even bleeding.

But, not all skincare solutions are one-size-fits-all, and slugging is no exception.

With that in mind, it’s best to avoid using petroleum-based products on oily or sensitive skin struggling with blackheads, milia or acne, as they could potentially cause breakouts and irritation.

Do Dermatologists Recommend Slugging?

Absolutely! As long as you do slugging the right way and remember to listen to your skin’s needs.

Dermatologists are hardly surprised by the slugging trend in skincare, considering that petroleum has been considered a popular beauty product for many years.

The experts from the American Academy of Dermatology already know how slugging works to minimize TEWL and keep the skin hydrated and plump — and they love it!

They also add that slugging is most effective when combined with hyaluronic acid, glycerin or urea.

Why? Because these ingredients help lock in moisture and provide additional support to the skin barrier.

Are There Any Downsides of Slugging?

Slugging can work wonders for your skin, but it also can get a bit messy if you skip steps or ignore the warning signs.

Let’s take a look at some things that can go wrong in the process and quick fixes that will save your life in tricky situations:

  • If your skin is sensitive or allergic to certain ingredients in petroleum-based products, slugging may lead to irritation. To avoid negative reactions, always patch-test new products and make sure they don’t cause any unwanted effects on your skin.
  • Given its occlusive nature, slugging may increase the intensity of the ingredients applied underneath the petroleum-based product. Be extra careful with potentially irritating formulas containing retinoids, AHAs and BHAs, because mixing these with slugging can lead to unpredictable results.
  • If you are obsessed with your silk pillowcases, slugging may not be such a good idea. Oil-based products have the potential to stain fabrics, so it’s best to play it safe by placing a cover or a towel over your pillow before sleeping in slug mode.

How to Choose the Best Slugging Product?

The secret to slugging lies in using a high-quality occlusive to form a protective layer on the skin, sealing in all the moisture.

The best choices include products with petroleum or those infused with ceramides.

Here are our top 3 recommendations:

#1 Vaseline Original Healing Jelly for Slugging

A little Vaseline goes a long way! The Original Healing Jelly has been part of skincare routines for more than a century, and now slugging has made this product a social media sensation.

It is made of 100% pure petroleum jelly that acts as a shield protecting your face from external harmful elements without damaging the look or health of your skin.

It locks 98% of moisture in — so you can go ahead and add it as the final step in your skin routine.

#2 Aquaphor Healing Ointment for Slugging

As a super popular slugging product, Aquaphor Healing Ointment is probably all over your TikTok.

This classic moisturizing ointment contains 41% of pure petroleum jelly, meaning it’s not as sluggy as Vaseline, but it does contain plenty of soothing ingredients that feel nice on the skin.

Dermatologists love it for its proven efficacy in providing intense hydration, creating a protective barrier, and supporting skin healing, making it a versatile and well-tolerated skincare solution.

So, you can trust it to do your dry or damaged skin a world of good.

#3 CeraVe Healing Ointment for Slugging

A cult favorite of sorts, the CeraVe Healing Ointment is a beloved slugging formula designed to help protect and restore your skin barrier.

Basically, it is made of 46.5% pure petroleum jelly and it also features a moisturizing blend of three essential ceramides and hyaluronic acid.

Although it may come across as quite heavy, this ointment is pretty lightweight, super hydrating and it works well with all skin types.

It’s both slugger- and derm-approved, which means you can trust it with your life and your skin.

How Often Should You Do Slugging?

The golden rule in skincare is to stay in sync with your skin’s needs. The same goes for slugging.

When it comes to how often you should do it, it’s crucial to read the little signals your skin is sending you.

  • If your skin leans towards dryness, that can be your sign to make slugging a regular part of your nighttime beauty routine.
  • If you have combo skin, the best option is to slug selectively — only a couple of days per week, focusing on dry or damaged areas on your face (nose, mouth and lips).
  • If you have oily skin, the last thing you need is to add more oil to the mix. For that reason, you should definitely be slugging less or not at all.

How to Do Slugging at Home?

The whole beauty of slugging lies in its simplicity. To achieve the glass skin effect, all you need is a petroleum-based product and the skincare you already own.

Here’s a little step-by-step guide for a super simple and effective at-home slugging routine:

Step 1: Cleansing

Before you begin your beauty routine, it’s important to wash your face.

Although slugging doesn’t make your skin acne-prone, unclean pores, and make-up residue can result in acne or clogged pores.

After cleansing, just give your face a gentle pat, leaving it a bit damp.

Step 2: Priming

Follow up with your favorite serums and moisturizers before slugging, as occlusives will lock these into your skin. However, make sure to avoid harsh acids and acne medications, for they’ll only irritate your skin.

Step 3: Slugging

Once you’re done with your usual skincare, it’s time to start slugging. Less is more, so start with only a tiny bit. A coin-sized amount will do the job.

Use your fingers to spread a thin layer, paying special attention to the dry spots.

Step 4: Waiting

Let your products do their thing under the nourishing petroleum mask. It’s best to leave it on overnight, before washing your face again.

So, Should You Try It?

As an intense form of moisturizing, slugging involves applying a layer of occlusive, like Vaseline, Aquaphor or CeraVe Healing Ointment, over facial moisturizer to lock in moisture and help your skin heal.

We love it because it’s effective, simple, and affordable. Plus, it works wonders overnight, meaning you will wake up with the skin from your dreams.

It’s ideal if your skin tends to be on the drier side or needs an extra boost of hydration, but it won’t work the same for naturally oily and acne-prone skin.

If you decide to try slugging, add it as the last, extra step to your regular PM routine and get ready to be wowed the next morning.

Voila – enjoy beautiful, healthy, baby-soft skin!

Cover image source: Freepik

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