Slugging For Skin: A Dry Skin Saviour Or Totally Gross?


ICYMI, skincare lovers are hanging out on Reddit these days; you can quote us on that! The massively popular ‘Thread’ feature of the app has led to many beauty discoveries. And the comparatively non-judgemental and hate-free platform has only contributed to its growth. Hack lovers flock to these threads hoping to gain wisdom and then share some. One of the trendiest skincare hacks to come out of the Reddit threads is ‘Slugging’. The old K-beauty practice calls for layering petroleum jelly on your skin to lock the moisture in overnight.

Even though the word is new, the practice itself has been a common one for many, including dermatologists. Yep, dermats have been slugging, going to bed looking like glazed doughnuts for years now; they just didn’t have a name for it. The practice clearly works, but what does it do, and should you be doing it? We are answering this and more below.

The Science Of Slugging

It is a fact that your skin needs an ideal hydrated environment to heal from daily wear and tear. Moisture is medicine for damaged skin, and one of the ways to truly lock in hydration for long hours is to layer an occlusive moisturiser on your skin. Slugging asks you to use a petrolatum-based moisturiser, popularly Vaseline, and layer it on slightly damp skin before bed. The practice prevents transepidermal water loss from your skin and lets it heal overnight.

But what exactly are people healing with slugging? It’s the golden b-word – barrier! Yes, while very welcome, the popularity of chemical exfoliation has led many to overdo it and destroy their barrier in the process. Slugging stories are often about how people repaired their moisture barrier by enriching their skin with lipids and fats with diet, ceramides and, of course, slugging.

Who Can Do It

By now, you might have realised that the process involves making your skin look like a walkway for slugs, which many believe to be gross. Dousing your skin with Vaseline can be quite irritating for acne sufferers, but the product itself does not cause congestion. In fact, Vaseline is considered non-comedogenic. What might worsen your acne is the fact that along with moisture, you might be trapping acne-causing germs in as well. This can irritate your hair follicles and lead to more flare-ups. If done wrong, it can lead to worsening of breakouts as well. So, apologies to the members of the zit zone; slugging may not be for you.

The routine is actually very beneficial for dry skin types. Petrolatum products are often used on wounds and cuts to heal faster, meaning they are safe to use on sensitive, prone, dry skin. The practice has also shown results in managing eczema and other dry skin conditions on both face and body.


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How To Do It

There is a right way to slug –

1. In your PM routine, start by thoroughly cleansing with your usual face wash. Dab your skin dry with a microfiber towel leaving slight dampness behind. 

2. You need to skip the active ingredients before slugging; the acceptable serums are hyaluronic acid or niacinamide. Follow up with your usual moisturiser; however, this is optional as petroleum jelly is also a potent hydrating agent. 

3. Layer on a pea-sized amount of Vaseline or Aquaphor, making sure to get your whole face and neck. If you have combination skin, you can spot treat with Vaseline on just the dry areas and leave the oilier zones be.

4. Use a gentle face wash to wash away the leftover Vaseline in the morning; you can even use an oil cleanser to melt the balmy Vaseline and cleanse your skin. Follow your usual routine, and make sure to wear your SPF!

Precations To Take With Slugging

1. Make sure to not slug more than a couple of times a week. Only opt for the ritual until your dry skin issue, rash or irritation is alleviated; post which you can move on to your usual routine.
2. Do not slug during the day. Using occlusive agents for long hours can mess with your skin’s natural intercellular lipid production process.
3. Do not slug on dirty skin as it can lead to acne breakouts.
4. Make sure to use only safe petroleum jelly; Vaseline and Aquaphor being one of the safest ones out there – they are even used on babies!

Photos: Instagram, Pexels

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