Slugging Skincare: How It Works & Why It’s TikTok’s Favorite Viral Beauty Hack of 2022

Slugging skin care, also known as the snail trail skin-hacking trend, has gained plenty of traction on TikTok (andInstagram) thanks to the many videos showing how well it works — but what exactly is this viral skin hack? What are the benefits of slugging your skin, and is it right for you? We're breaking down everything you need to know about slugging skin care, including its origin, expert opinions, and how to add it to your routine.

What is slugging?

Slugging is when you slather your face in Vaseline or petroleum jelly before bed as the last step in your skincare routine. Leave it on overnight, then wash it off come morning to reveal dewy, glass-like skin. This occlusive layer helps lock in moisture and create a barrier against environmental aggressors. Vaseline on its own is the classic method, but drier skin types may benefit from adding a few drops of oil to their slugging routine for an extra boost.

The origins of slugging are a little murky, but the consensus is that the trend started in Korea. Its name comes from the slimy secretion that slugs and snails produce, which is full of hyaluronic acid and glycerin — two ingredients that are often found in hydrating skincare products.

What are the benefits of slugging?

With all the different skincare products available on the market today, slugging may seem like another trend taking over the skincare world. However, this time-tested skincare method has been used for centuries to rejuvenate and repair, making it perfect for any skin type in need of hydration and nourishment.

The main product for slugging is petroleum jelly which is used with different moisturizing products for maximum results. Petroleum jelly has been used for over 100 years to treat various skin conditions, including chapped lips, dry skin and minor cuts and scrapes. According to theFDA, white petroleum with 30 to 100 percent concentration is a safe skin protectant you can buy over the counter from any drug store.

Get glowing and healthier-looking skin

Slugging has been gaining popularity as a skincare hack for achieving glowing and visibly healthier skin. Plus, it's an inexpensive way to get post-facial-like results at home. his simple yet effective technique helps lock in moisture, protect your skin from environmental aggressors, and even helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. If targeting visible signs of aging are your main concern, don’t rely solely on all-over or targeted, under-eye slugging. Instead, use petroleum jelly as the last step in your skincare routine over a retinoid or peptide treatment to prevent moisture loss.

Benefits by skin type

Many people are hesitant to try slugging because they think it will make their skin look greasy, but when used correctly for the right skin type, the results are dewy — not oily.  On application, there’s no way around the shine; once you rinse off that layer the next morning, you’ll notice how slugging can help prevent your skin from feeling dry and tight without leaving it greasy. Experts suggest that dry skin gets the most benefits from slugging. Acne-prone skin, however, may want to skip this method and opt for a light, oil-free moisturizer instead.

Let’s look at the different skin types and how they can benefit from slugging:

Dry skin

When used with a serum or face cream, an occlusive such as petroleum jelly acts as a protective barrier that locks the moisturizer or any other products and prevents the skin from drying out. Slugging skin care gives the best results for dry skin. It's also great for people with sensitive skin, as the barrier created by petroleum jelly can help to protect against potential irritants.

Oily skin

Dermatologists don't recommend slugging for oily skin. If you have incredibly oily skin, it's better to refrain from it completely. However, for moderately oily or comination skin, you can try slugging and see how your skin feels in the morning. If it leaves your skin looking shinier than you’d like or you experience any breakouts, try slugging with a lighter moisturizer instead of Vaseline.

Acne-prone skin

Petroleum jelly is non-comedogenic (it doesn't clog pores). However, it cantrap surface oil and bacteria  which may toclog pores — resulting in breakouts. e mindful when applying OTC ointments or prescription medicine for acne underneath the petroleum jelly, too. An occlusive can enhance the penetration of the active ingredients into the skin, which may cause skin irritation. Do consult a dermatologist before your try , slugging for acne.

What do the experts say?

Many people have turned to this K-beauty skincare trend in hopes of smoother skin and fewer wrinkles, but does it actually work? Experts weigh in on this topic to help you decide whether or not slugging is worth your time (and money).

Dr. Shari Marchbein, a New York-based board-certified dermatologist, has always suggested petroleum to quickly heal dryness and eczema (well before slugging became viral on social media). She shared her personal experience on Instagram: “I’ve been slugging my lips and eyelids with petroleum jelly at night for years, and while this has become a skincare trend, it's a great way to lock moisture and hydration into the skin in the wintertime. Slugging should be the final step in your nighttime skincare routine.” However, Dr. Marchbein strongly advises against using an occlusive for oily or acne-prone skin. She favors selective slugging to target the dry spots instead of applying petroleum all over the face.

Dr. Sheerene Idris, a board-certified dermatologist, also recommends exclusively focusing on slugging for a few days if you want to recover a damaged skin barrier. She adds, "Slugging is good for your skin, especially if you live in a dry climate where water loss and dryness are bound to happen." She also recommends slugging more in the winter when skin is drier and less in summer when skin tends to be oilier.

How to slug your face

Choosing the right kind of product is vital to help lock in the moisture by creating a barrier over your skin.Slugging Vaseline is the most popular and classic method;  Aquaphor slugging and CeraVe slugging are becoming increasingly popular options because of their added ingredient benefits. In general, using a petroleum-based products are best for slugging — but if your skin is on the oilier slide and you still want to try this method, opt for a nourishing face cream instead. 

Step 1: Cleanse

The first step is to double cleanse your face. Start with an oil-based cleanser to remove makeup, sunscreen and other impurities on your skin. Follow up with a water-based cleanser to deep clean your pores.

Step 2: Exfoliate

Exfoliating regularly helps remove any dead skin cells and other debris that might be clogging up your pores. You can use any chemical exfoliator, like an AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) or BHA (beta hydroxy acid), that best suits your skin.

Step 3: Moisturize

The key to successful slugging is using products with humectant ingredients that help your skin attract and retain hydration. All skin — not just dry types — can benefit from a moisturizer.

Step 4: Slug

The occlusive is the final step in your skincare routine.You can apply your product all over using a thin layer, or targeting  common dry zones depending on what your skin needs. Always start with less and layer if desired.