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Tiktok trend alert! What is slugging?

January 1 | 3 minute read

What Is Slugging Hero 16x9

Words by Emily Deacon and Gracie Clough

Originally published on | May 17

What in the world is slugging?

Since popping up on Reddit circa 2014, this skincare trend has taken off again in 2022, and for good reason. This nightly K-beauty step is apparently the secret to a glowing, supple face by morning. Intrigued? Us too.

Here, we break down the 411 on slugging, why you need it in your life and show you exactly what you need for a complete slugging routine.

What is slugging and why should you try it?

Traditionally, slugging involves coating a thick layer of petroleum jelly over the face as the final step in your nightly skincare routine to help prevent transdermal water loss and keep moisture in the skin. Why, you ask? Why not? But seriously, especially coming into winter, this is one trend to try, especially those who tend to be on the drier side.

K-beauty fans have been turning to petroleum jelly and the like for years to achieve the ‘glass skin’ we all double tap on Instagram. The term ‘slugging’ refers to the slimy film left on the skin after applying a jelly, balm or mask – you’re going to look like a slug is what we’re saying.

If diving straight into petroleum jelly gives you the ick, the good news is you can try slugging with any occlusive. What’s an occlusive? In simple terms, any moisturising agent that creates a physical barrier on your skin, something that locks in hydration and prevents water loss. Products rich in ceramides, jojoba oil or squalane are a good place to start as these also replenish the skin barrier with healthy lipids.

What does slugging actually do for the skin?

Aside from waking up with soft, supple skin, slugging may also help protect your skin barrier if you’ve been overdoing it on the actives or if you experience a tight, dry feeling post-cleanse. By sealing in extra moisture with an occlusive, your barrier is wrapped in sustained hydration and all the other juicy skincare you applied beforehand.

Who is slugging best for?

People with super dry skin or a compromised skin barrier (think: sensitive skin conditions) will benefit the most from slugging. For those who are more on the oily side and prone to breakouts, slugging may not be for you because an occlusive environment can trap dead skin and oil (hello, breakouts).

Your complete slugging routine

Step 1:

Ensure you start with freshly cleansed, dry skin. Apply a pea-sized amount of a hydrating eye cream along the orbital bone and gently press in until absorbed – try the Mario Badescu Brightening Eye Serum.

Step 2:

Support your skin’s barrier and microbiome by massaging in two pumps of the Cultured Biome One Serum. This aids the skin’s natural nightly renewal process.

Step 3:

Now, for the fun part. Apply a generous amount of an occlusive ‘slugging’ product and layer it across the face to seal in moisture. Products like the Drunk Elephant Wonderwild™ Miracle Butter, are a barrier-replenishing salve that is rich in skin-loving omegas and antioxidants.

Step 4:

To finish, apply a generous layer of Tatcha’s The Kissu Lip Mask. Packed with Japanese camellia oil and peach extract, this lip mask will help to prevent moisture loss for ultra-supple lips when you wake.

Where does slugging fall into your skincare routine?

Slugging should be the last step of your routine. Ensure you start with squeaky clean skin (we don’t want makeup, dirt or sunscreen getting trapped underneath!), then apply your chosen humectants (like hyaluronic acid, glycerine and aloe vera, and extra points if you apply them to damp skin). Next, massage in your chosen moisturiser before warming up an occlusive in the palm of your hands and gently rolling and patting it over your skincare. Be sure to let the formula sit for a few minutes before hopping into bed!

Other slugging favourites

Drunk Elephant F-Balm Electrolyte Waterfacial™

A mask packed with antioxidants and omega fatty acids to help rehydrate parched skin, making it soft and supple while helping to improve the appearance of texture and tone.

MECCA MAX NIGHT DUTY Hydrating Overnight Jelly Mask 

Vitamin, niacinamide and ceramide NP make up this calming jelly mask. It hasn’t been on the scene long but already has a legion of fans, many of whom we’re sure love a good slugging session.

TULA Beauty Sleep Overnight Repair Treatment

This deeply nourishing treatment contains a trio of probiotic extracts, AHAs and vitamin C to strengthen, refine and brighten skin while you get some shut-eye.

Tatcha Indigo Overnight Repair 

Every night our skin goes through its natural renewal process; a product like Tatcha’s Indigo Overnight Repair aids in the process by wrapping skin in ceramides and Japanese indigo extract, which helps soothe and restore skin. A great occlusive to try if you need to replenish and rebalance your skin barrier.

Origins Drink Up™ Intensive Overnight Hydrating Mask with Avocado & Glacier Water 

The avocado oil in this deeply hydrating mask is the secret ingredient to not only nourish and soften but also seal in the humectants you apply before slugging.

REN Clean Skincare Evercalm Overnight Recovery Balm 

Want to try slugging with a balm? Do we have one for you! This REN Clean Skincare favourite packs a punch – you only need to apply the smallest amount to your skin at the end of your routine, as its jojoba and sunflower oil complex provides serious moisture and protection.

Related topics and brand tags

Skin careSkincare treatmentsMoisturiserDry skinSensitive skin

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