WTH Is Slugging And Why Is Everyone On TikTok Obsessed With It?

By Simone Sydel··  6 min read
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Is slugging just another fancy but ineffective TikTok trend, or can it really transform your skin?

If you've spent a decent amount of time on beauty TikTok, you've probably come across slugging more than once.

This skincare method has been making the rounds on the app as of late, but it might not be as new as you might think it is. If you’ve been curious about the trend, here's all you need to know.

Okay, So WTH Is Slugging?

Slugging is a moisturizing method that recently became a trend and involves applying a petrolatum-based ointment to the face to soften and repair the skin overnight. It’s a Korean skincare term that got the name because the method will leave you looking slimy like a slug.

Many Redditors and content creators swear by the technique and say turning themselves into a slug before bed is totally transforming their skin.

How To "Slug" Properly

Slugging is definitely one of those things that you can't get wrong application-wise. The method is pretty straightforward, and the best way to do it is to thoroughly cleanse your skin with a gentle cleanser in the evening, optimally (but not necessarily) follow up with a hydrating serum, and then liberally apply a petroleum-based ointment such as Vaseline, Aquaphor, or CeraVe's Healing Ointment all over your face.

After doing this, you just leave the petroleum "mask" to soften your skin overnight, and you’re supposed to wake up with a soft, smooth, and moisturized face.

Apply a petrolatum-based ointment to your face to soften and repair your skin overnight.

Will I Benefit from Slugging?

Slugging isn't a new concept in dermatology; it's just a new term for the method that has been used for a long time to help protect and improve severely dry skin caused by conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, extremely low temperatures, and even burns.

Therefore, people who are dealing with these conditions, as well as those who live in extremely cold places where low temperatures cause their skin to get dry and chapped, can definitely benefit from this method of skin restoration.

Additionally, the slugging method can also be applied on skin that has undergone a cosmetic procedure such as microneedling, a chemical peel, and even something more intense such as CO2 laser as the ointment will help make the scabbing and weeping that occurs after the procedure more bearable.

Slugging helps protect and improve severely dry skin.

Slugging can also be used if your skin is naturally dry, as it can help soften it and relieve the discomfort that comes from dryness and friction. This can especially be useful for the dry and sensitive skin around the eyes.

And lastly, the slugging method can also be applied to dry and chapped lips to serve as a softening and nourishing lip mask.

Can Slugging Be Bad for My Skin?

While slugging isn't necessarily bad for the skin, it's definitely not for everyone. Some skin professionals have raised concerns over this viral trend and have pointed out the potential issues it can cause for some people. This especially concerns people with oily and acne-prone skin, as slugging can definitely be too heavy for the skin that already has oil in excess.

Additionally, since petroleum is occlusive, it means that it will create a layer of – essentially – grease on the skin's surface, which will prevent the natural oil from flowing freely out of the pores. This can definitely become a problem very quickly because the trapped oil that accumulates inside the pores can attract bacteria that will feed on it and proliferate, leading to acne breakouts.

Furthermore, while petroleum might not be responsible for acne breakouts for many, some people have reported another, milder, but no less annoying condition that they've noticed on their skin after starting to apply the slugging method regularly – milia.

Milia is a condition that manifests itself as tiny white bumps (pimples or cysts) on the skin. They usually appear on the nose and cheeks and occur when the tough, durable protein keratin that composes our skin, hair, and nails becomes trapped beneath the surface of the skin. 

Therefore, some professionals have started warning against slugging too frequently because it could potentially lead to milia. However, "too frequently" is a very ambiguous term, especially when it comes to the skin. It can't be applied to everyone because it all depends on your skin type, skin concerns, and how your skin reacts to certain ingredients.

Slugging can lead to acne breakouts for those with oily skin.

So, how frequently is too much? Well, unfortunately, you can't really predict it because your skin is different from someone else's and can react differently to various ingredients and how much of the ingredients you use.

Lastly, there's the sanitary issue that can often be noticed in videos posted on TikTok and Instagram, where creators who swear by this method of moisturizing often present their huge jars of ointment at the beginning of the video and dip their fingers into the product and apply it to the face before coming back for more.

This is incredibly unsanitary, and it leads to contamination of the product because everything that was on your hands and on your face is now in your jar and will get on your face again the next time you do it.

Therefore, if you still want to give slugging a try, you should either grab a clean spoon or a spatula or opt for a smaller tube that squeezes the product out instead of a large jar where you would have to repeatedly dip your fingers in.

Closing Thoughts

Slugging might be the newest hot trend around the block, and it's definitely something many people could find helpful. However, as with all things in skincare, what works for some won't work for others, which is why it's important to always take your skin advice from a professional and pay attention to what your skin is trying to tell you by how it reacts.

Let us know whether you're on board with slugging!

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