Slugging, A Trend Approved by Dermatologists

Could slugging save your winter skin? Image sourced via British GQ.

Slugging, A Trend Approved by Dermatologists

TikTok has brought us countless beauty and fashion lessons during its time. Most recently, its brought us Euphoria inspired makeup in a range of glitter shadows, the Olaplex bun, the popularization of the curtain fringe and blowouts. Last year, however, it has also brought us a new (albeit, only new to us) skincare trend known as ‘slugging’.

What is slugging?

It’s been traced back to have Korean skincare roots. In its most basic form, slugging involves covering the entire face in a thick layer of an occlusive agent — petrolatum-based — overnight. Slugging was popularized as a beauty trick that aids in hydration. This is recommended during the cold months of winter when the weather destroys the moisture barrier and the plumpness of the skin.

“When your skin barrier doesn’t have an effective balance of fats, the moisture and hydration that make your skin look supple, full, and plump can’t be maintained,” Dana Stern, MD, dermatologist and assistant clinical professor at Mount Sinai in NYC told Cosmo.

What dermatologists are saying

Dr. Marchbein, MD, says slugging all over your face can cause more irritation on very oily skin. “If you’re trapping things and occluding the skin, there is definitely a potential for breakouts,” he tells Teen Vogue. The issue with using petrolatum-based products on acne-prone skin is that while they may be comedogenic, the molecules are too big to clog your skin, you aren’t allowing your skin to breathe. This means that oils will be trapped inside of the skin, potentially causing acne. 

“If you’re acne prone but want a similar effect, I would use a creamy moisturizer instead of petrolatum. Look for ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and dimethicone. And then you can spot treat with Vaseline when you’re drier.” 

Dr. Mudgil, MD, dermatologist and founder of Mudgil Dermatology in New York City, recommends it in certain circumstances. “For really dry skin, or eczema, I think slugging works very well. It locks in hydration and really forces the moisture back into the cells.” 

How to effectively layer products

  1. First, clean your face with whatever cleansing product you normally use.
  2. Second, apply your normal skin care products in normal order: medications and prescriptions followed by moisturizers.

3. Lastly, seal it with a thin layer of any petrolatum-based ointment. Dr. Shari Marchbein, MD, emphasizes the thin layer.

What I learned from slugging

Because I live in a place where the dryness of winter is brutal on the skin, destroying my skin. In order to give slugging the best chance possible on my dry, acne-prone skin, I learned to layer products and targeted key dry spots on my face — lips, around my nose, my under eyes, and parts of my cheeks. 

I’ve been mainly having issues with incredibly dry skin and the application of makeup hasn’t been the easiest as it has looked dry. The biggest difference I noticed was around my nose and around my eyes. Even last night, as I was reading Jeanette Wall’s sad and tear-inducing memoir, The Glass Castle, I didn’t feel any burning around my eyes,which was happening because my skin was so dry. 

Recommended products

For slugging
Moisturizers and serums

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