Skip to content

Should You Try the Slugging Skincare Trend?

Even if you don’t stay up to snuff on skincare news, there’s a solid chance you’ve heard of “slugging” by now. The term — used to describe slathering one’s face in petroleum jelly overnight — has been trending all over TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter for weeks now, with countless content creators swearing by the simple skincare technique. Naturally, we have to wonder: Why exactly are people so obsessed with slugging? And more importantly: How much is this method actually benefiting your skin at the end of the day? (Spoiler alert: not much.)

To get the skinny on social media’s latest skincare craze, we tapped two board-certified dermatologists for their expert insight on the matter. Keep scrolling for the lowdown. 

What is slugging in skincare? 

K-Beauty has been the starting source for a lot of trends, but in our experience, this isn’t one of them. “Slugging is simply a trend of applying petroleum jelly, whether it be Aquaphor, Cerave, or Vaseline, as a moisturizer to seal in your skincare products overnight,” says Shari Marchbein, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City. It’s new only to social media. In fact, she says, “This technique has been used for years in patients with dry or eczema-prone skin, but I also bet nearly every parent has done it to their child at some point, it’s just none of us have come up with a trendy name for it.” 

Speaking of its name: Board-certified dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, M.D., says it likely stemmed from the “secretions left behind from a slug,” seeing as petroleum jelly also leaves behind a film or residue, even after sleeping with it on all night.

What are the slugging skincare benefits? 

Put simply, petroleum jelly is an occlusive that locks in hydration, so it can certainly help to prevent moisture loss while you sleep, and in turn, potentially improve skin barrier function. “It can help treat dry, irritated skin, and my guess is that it’s growing in popularity right now because of irritation related to wearing face masks,” says Zeichner. That being said, slugging is not the end-all-be-all in skincare — and it definitely isn’t the best for everyone. 

Is slugging bad for acne or oily skin? 

“Slugging shouldn’t be used in those with oily or acne-prone skin,” says Marchbein very matter-of-factly. “While the ointments I listed above are non-comedogenic and I love using them all over the body, I would not recommend applying them to the entire face if you are acne-prone or very oily, as it may clog your pores.”

Additionally, Marchbein doesn’t advise applying petroleum jelly over ingredients like retinol or hydroxy acids, as it can increase penetration and lead to irritation. “If you are going to slug, just use the jelly over mild ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, or niacinamide,” she suggests.

Is slugging a good idea or not? 

Here at Glow Recipe, we believe there are better ways to combat moisture loss, and they don’t involve slathering on a sticky, heavy ointment every night. Of course, if you like to slug, you’re free to do so; we just think you should consider other options that may do more for your skin — plus, derms and editors we’ve spoken to advise against it.

“Instead of slugging, try opting for a moisturizing cream that contains a mix of occlusives, emollients, and humectants,” says Marchbein. “I also especially like ‘the sandwich’ technique in the colder months, when products with active ingredients — especially those that may be more drying or irritating like retinoids — are sandwiched between layers of moisturizers or hyaluronic acid serum. This technique is also good for those with acne-prone skin.”

Glow Recipe’s Banana Soufflé Moisture Cream is a great alternative to use in lieu of petroleum jelly as it’s packed with potassium and magnesium-rich banana, both of which help to combat water loss and calm irritated skin. On top of that, it’s also made with anti-inflammatory turmeric, which is high in antioxidants that support skin function, as well as centella asiatica, a.k.a. cica or tiger grass, a known soothing agent that boosts hydration. 

Ultimately, if you’re interested in slugging, just make sure it’s the right option for however your skin is feeling that day — and opt for a formula that has the ideal proportions of skin-beneficial ingredients.

Want to learn more about keeping dry skin happy?


Glow Recipe

Banana Soufflé Moisture Cream


No comments found

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.