Slugging, a social media beauty craze that has gained major traction in recent years, may sound a little unpleasant, but it’s actually something that many beauty enthusiasts have been doing for years. According to the countless reviews on social media, the viral skincare technique has many skin improvements benefits including locking in moisture and protecting the skin barrier.

Before you decide that the method isn’t for you, it’s worth noting that slugging has nothing to do with slugs. “Slugging” refers to sealing the skin with an occlusive ointment, like petrolatum (found in Vaseline, CeraVe Healing Ointment, and Aquaphor) to aid in the healing of the skin.

“Because (petrolatum) is occlusive, it is not comedogenic and helps to lock in moisture without clogging pores,” explains Dr. Michelle Henry, Founder of Skin & Aesthetic Surgery of Manhattan. She adds, “Since Vaseline is not water-based, it is not adding hydration.”

According to dermatologist, Dr. Hope Mitchell, FAAD, this is a process that is used often by skincare professionals. “We have been using this beauty hack to lock in moisture and quickly heal dry skin for many years, but now slugging has a formal name.”

“I perform slugging all the time and have done so for years,” says Beauty Creator and Esthetician Tiara Willis. “I love using CeraVe Healing Ointment at the end of my routine to lock in moisture and to soothe irritation.”

Vaseline, which has been used to cure skin for 150 years, is particularly popular with Tiktokers and skinfluencers since it’s easy to use. Dr. Mitchell personally thinks that the trend is gaining popularity because of the change in weather. “I believe it may be partly seasonal,” she explains to Essence exclusively. “During the cooler and dry winter months, skin can become chaffed and people are in need of safe beauty tips to heal their drying skin.”

Before you decide to start slugging, Dr. Mitchell notes that the method may not be suitable for every skin type. “Acne and oily skin types may be at risk for breakouts,” she points out. “Let’s face it, building another layer on top of oil may be asking for trouble. Consider applying a serum with hyaluronic acid as a moisturizer and then a non-comedogenic lotion or cream (slugging) as a spot treatment.”

Dr. Henry imparts that slugging is simple to do and should be layered from thinnest to thickest. “Start with your cleanser, then your toner. Then add your essence, a good serum, your moisturizer, and lastly apply the Vaseline.” 

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Dr. Mitchell offers the following tips for slugging properly. 

  1. Cleanse your face properly day and night. 
  2. Moisturize. Consider a product with hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and glycerin which will work in tandem to lock moisture into a protected skin barrier.  
  3. Seal in the moisturizer with a pea-sized amount of an occlusive ointment like Vaseline. Apply the occlusive ointment all over the face or in dry areas. 
  4. Get plenty of rest and feel your best! 

Ready to try slugging? Remember to start small. “Consider doing the lips and then go from there,” says Dr. Mitchell. 

In closing, Dr. Henry offers this advice: “Start out using it once or twice a week to assess if you’re one that’s prone towards having comedonal acne. Advance slowly and enjoy the process.” 

Editor’s Note: This story/interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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