When you hear the word “slug,” radiant and youthful skin is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. But a viral beauty hack known as “slugging” — which involves covering your face in a light layer of a petroleum-based product like Vaseline — may in fact be the answer to your skincare stress. That’s right: The holy grail product that could give you plump, moisturized, wrinkle-free skin might already be in your medicine cabinet. Read on to learn more about slugging and determine whether it’s right for you.
What is slugging?
Slugging, named for the slimy texture it gives your skin at first (I know it sounds yucky — bear with me), originated in the South Korean beauty scene in 2020 and made its way stateside through social media like TikTok. It became popular due to its simplicity (just one product needed), accessibility (Vaseline isn’t exactly exotic or expensive), and in all likelihood, its novelty. How funny is it to say, “Time to slug?”
To slug, you apply Vaseline or another petroleum-based product to your clean face as the last step in your nighttime skincare routine. This method is thought to boost skin hydration, providing anti-aging properties. While the term “slugging” is relatively new, the practice isn’t. “Slugging is actually nothing new, we just didn’t have a cute name for it … we can take this ‘trend’ back to our [great-grandmothers] … we can think of slugging as the OG anti-aging moisturizer,” medical aesthetician Chloe Savvides tells Prevention. In fact, according to TikTok user @CaitKiernan, Martha Stewart was slugging before it was cool:
Why should I try slugging?
You may be wondering why and how slugging is effective. Despite its popularity on TikTok, this practice might have particular advantages for aging skin. Nurse practitioner and owner of aesthetic nonsurgical rejuvenation clinic The Look, Haley Wood, says, “As we age, our skin loses its ability to retain moisture, which leads to decreased hydration and more fine lines and wrinkles over time.” So if you’re worried about wrinkles, hydration is key. Wood continues, “the petroleum jelly works as a protective barrier to lock in moisture and prevent water loss. The skin stays hydrated and plump as a result, which reduces the appearance of sagging skin.”
As Good Housekeeping explains, petroleum-based products are occlusives, which means they’re good at keeping moisture from leaving your skin; these are different from humectants, which are moisturizing agents like hyaluronic acid that actually bring the hydration to your skin. So for optimum results, it’s a good idea to incorporate a humectant into your nighttime skincare routine before applying an occlusive. That way, you’re drawing in moisture, and keeping it in.
If you have reservations about applying petroleum jelly to your face, worry not. It’s non-comedogenic and safe for the skin. Dermatologist Dr. Kavita Mariwalla tells InStyle: “We use it on wounds all the time because it speeds up healing time and is better, cheaper, and has fewer side effects than things like Neosporin and Bacitracin.”
How can I start slugging?
Want to slug? (Now there’s a question I’ve never asked before.) Here’s a guide from TikTok user @KellieAnnBeauty on how to achieve soft, smooth skin with this method:
Before you try slugging, there are a few things to know. “Keep in mind that slugging isn't for everyone," says Wood. "If you have acne-prone skin, this won't be the trend for you. But if you're extremely dry, and have mature skin, it may be worth a shot." She also adds that it takes consistent use — she recommends slugging “no more than twice a week” — to see results. Dr. Mariwalla warns that if you’re slugging, to skip any AHA acids or retinoids in your routine, because petroleum could increase their absorption to too-high levels, leading to irritation. While regular Vaseline (Buy from Amazon, $3.65) is a perfectly valid option, CeraVe Healing Ointment (Buy from Amazon, $10.49) and Aquaphor Healing Ointment (Buy from Amazon, $15.19) are popular choices too.
Are you ready to try this viral hack? Slather up and slug. Like @KellieAnnBeauty says, "If you're not going to bed looking like a glazed doughnut, you're doing it wrong."
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