Slugging in skincare is becoming popular for people seeking to achieve a consistently glowing, plump, and healthy looking skin affordably.
If you have been spending time on TikTok or IG checking out beauty influencers’ accounts, chances are you may have come across the term “slugging”. The K-beauty trend to attain soft baby’s bottom skin that built momentum on reddit has become the skin saviour tip for many angry, irritated skin.
Whilst slugging skincare is nothing new in dermatology, and it is even highly recommended by many skincare experts, you may wonder what the term actually stands for.
What are the benefits of slugging in skincare? What are the moisturising products to use based on your skin type? And, how to integrate slugging skincare in your beauty routine? Not to worry. I’ve got you all covered below. Keep reading to find out more.
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What Is Slugging Skin?
Slugging consists of lathering the skin’s face with an occlusive product such as petrolatum, commonly known as petroleum jelly, or ceramides overnight or over a prolonged period of time (generally for a few hours).
The idea behind it is that when you coat your face with a heavy based moisturiser over a prolonged period of time, this helps deeply nourish and protect your skin, leaving you with a smoother, shiner, and healthier looking face.
Simply put, an occlusive product is a moisturising agent found in product formulas that helps to form a physical barrier on your skin to lock in moisture and prevent water loss.
On the other hand, ceramides are lipids naturally found in the skin. A 2018 clinical study indicates that applying a ceramide cream that mimics the skin’s own natural moisturising systems, can help increase hydration and reduce transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Although ceramides are not occlusive agents, they work similarly when it comes to sealing in moisture.
Now, you understand, why k-beauty lovers together with dermatologists are highly in favour of slugging, especially for those with dry, dehydrated, ageing, or damaged skin types.
There are definitely a few benefits regular slugging skincare might help you achieve in your efforts to keep your face soft, glowing, and well hydrated. Here are the key ones.
What Are the Benefits of Slugging for Your Skin?
You may have heard your derm or esthetician repeat several times to you that regular moisturising is key to maintaining a well hydrated and healthy looking skin. Slugging your skin with the right ceramides or occlusive product will definitely help in that direction in the following ways.
Prevents Transepidermal Water Loss
Occlusive agents sit on the top layer of the skin known as the epidermis. They create a protective barrier that helps to seal in moisture and prevent transepidermal water loss (TEWL), which is the process of water evaporating out of the skin.
Transepidermal water loss is a natural bodily function that gradually increases with age. As you get older, you may notice that your skin becomes drier and your skin barrier tends to be less effective at retaining water in your body.
Slugging overnight or before bed time might be helpful to seal in moisture in order to keep your skin hydrated and noticeably glowing when you wake up in the morning.
Protects Your Skin from Environmental Aggressors
Everyday your skin experiences sun exposure, pollution, or toxic radiation from electronic devices you are in contact with. Sometimes, your skin’s surface is irritated by harsh chemicals in beauty products or is damaged by a wound cut or surgery.
In the above circumstances, the top layer of your skin, your epidermis, needs additional tender loving care to perform its skin barrier function effectively.
Regular skin slugging with vaseline or an appropriate ceramide or occlusive product supports wound healing after surgery, and it helps prevent, and restore damage to the epidermis. Your skin will gradually become less irritated and it will repair itself, courtesy of a moist environment, with consistent slugging over time.
Helps Maintain the Right Amount of Skin Lipids
Skin lipids, your skin’s natural fats, play an important role in helping your skin to store up moisture, maintain skin elasticity, and fight off bacteria and other environmental pollutants.
When your skin barrier lacks the right balance of lipids, it therefore becomes more difficult for your skin to retain hydration and moisture. These two are essential to keep skin supple, healthy looking, and plump.
A 2015 clinical study suggests that applying a cream made of solid lipid nanoparticles can work as efficient skin moisturisers and help repair the skin barrier by restoring the skin lipids on your skin surface.
Whenever you are ready to try out skin slugging, here are a few highly recommended products to help you on your journey based on your skin type.
The Best Slugging Products for your Skin Type
Below are a few handpicked products that work great for slugging based on different skin types. Remember that products containing non-comedogenic petroleum jelly or ceramides are ideal for skin slugging.
For dry/damaged skin
Vaseline Original Petroleum Jelly
Courtesy of its 100% pure petroleum jelly formula, Vaseline is a very popular occlusive product in the slugging community.
The hypo-allergenic and non-comedogenic multitasker helps protect your skin from burns, minor cuts, scrapes, whilst softening dry and fine lines.
CeraVe Healing Ointment
Petrolatum, hyaluronic acid and ceramides form the backbone of this healing balm that is formulated for cracked, chafed and extremely dry skin.
The three superstar ingredients work together to help repair your impaired skin barrier by boosting hydration and temporarily protect and soothe skin.
For very dry, sensitive skin
EUCERIN Aquaphor Soothing Skin Balm
Banish sensitive skin rashes and irritation with this formula that is designed to support the natural’s regeneration process of the skin. Formulated with panthenol, glycerin, and bisabolol, the fragrance and preservative free balm will help heal dry, cracked skin.
The rich, fast-absorbing cream is infused with hydrating superhero hyaluronic acid and 3 essential ceramides that work together to seal in moisture and help repair your skin’s protective barrier.
This non-greasy cream is ideal for dry and very dry skin. It can be used both on the face and body.
For dry, ageing skin
OLE HENRIKSEN C-Rush Brightening Double Crème
Skin brightening powerhouses vitamin C and Rose of Winter extract in the formula help hydrate and brighten your skin, whilst fighting visible signs of ageing.
Shea butter enhances the skin’s natural barrier function by forming a protective layer on your epidermis to help retain moisture and hydration and repel pollutants.
DR. JART+ Ceramidin Cream
© DR. JART+
This smooth, nourishing cream delivers deep moisturising and soothing effects to dry, dull skin while boosting the skin’s moisture barrier.
The formula is enriched with a proprietary Ceramide complex and shea butter that help to infuse your skin with lipids to keep it hydrated over a prolonged period of time.
Possible Side Effects of Skin Slugging
Skin slugging overnight is best avoided if you have excessively oily and acne-prone skin. Many occlusive agents contained in heavy-based cream formulas that are used for slugging may be comedogenic, meaning they may clog up your pores.
This in turn may trap excess oils underneath your epidermis, which may eventually lead to more breakouts.
Moreover, when slugging try to avoid using potentially skin irritating active ingredients such as retinoids, AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs underneath the occlusive product you use to coat your face overnight. This is because slugging may intensify their skin absorption, leading to skin irritation.
AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs are chemical exfoliants that help shed dead skin cells, improve skin texture, and even out skin tone. Retinoids are Vitamin A derived compounds that are helpful in the treatment of fine lines, acne, and skin discoloration, just to name a few.
Now that you are aware of the do’s and don’ts of slugging, below is the approach to use whether you choose to do the overnight slugging method or its shortened version.
How To Slug your Face
You can try slugging your face in two different ways.
The most effective and common method is to slug your face overnight just before bed time in 4 easy steps.
The second method, known as short-contact, involves slugging your face just for a few hours as part of your evening skincare routine. It is best suited to those who are short of time or who simply don’t want to end up with messy pillowcases when they wake up the next day.
How to slug overnight
Step 1: Complete your normal skincare routine, without applying any face oils or facial treatments containing actives including retinoids, AHAs, BHAs, or PHAs
Step 2: Apply a pea-size occlusive product of your choice for slugging on damp skin
Step 3: Evenly spread the very tiny occlusive to cover your whole face
Step 4: cleanse your skin gently in the morning to remove any remaining occlusive and pat dry your face
How to short-contact slug
Short-contact slugging works much better for people who are short of time and can only commit to a few hours of this beauty hack in-between their activities in the evening.
Step 1: Clean away any makeup or skincare products you have applied in the morning
Step 2: When your face is still damp, coat your skin with a thin layer of your chosen occlusive product.
Step 3: After a few hours in-between your evening activities, wash off your face, gently pat dry it, and complete your normal skincare routine
The Bottom Line
Regular skin slugging 2 to 3 times per week will help improve your skin hydration, texture, and glow over time.
If you still want to keep using your normal skincare products containing active ingredients to address specific skin concerns such as acne or hyperpigmentation, consult your dermatologist before trying out slugging.
For people with drying skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis, it is also best to seek advice from your dermatologist before proceeding with skin slugging.
In the event that you experience any breakouts, skin irritation or discolouration when slugging, do stop it immediately. See whether there are any skin improvements one or two days afterward. If not, seek professional support from your dermatologist or your doctor.