Breaking News: What is Slugging Skincare & Why is It All Over TikTok?
Once a trend makes its way to TikTok and goes viral – it’s basically everywhere you look. Whether it’s a new beauty trend or even a dance trend, once something takes off, you’re bound to see all of your besties trying out viral trends all over your feed. Recently, the biggest skincare and beauty trend that has popped off on TikTok is slugging skincare. In fact, the #slugging hashtag on TikTok currently has 155.5 million views and videos focused on slugging have earned skincare/beauty influencers a ton of engagement and views. If ‘slugging skincare’ doesn’t sound familiar, here are all the must-know facts about the viral trend.
- Slugging skincare is a Korean beauty, or K-Beauty, skincare trend that involves coating the face in occlusive like petroleum jelly or Vaseline to prevent trans-epidermal water loss in order to keep moisture in the skin, promote elasticity to prevent wrinkles, and achieve a plump, firm skin surface.
- Petroleum jelly can help fix a depletion of lipids, which are crucial for keeping the outermost layer of skin intact and protecting the skin’s barrier from pollutants and toxins.
- Vaseline isn’t comedogenic because the size of the molecules are too large to fit into the skin’s pores – but it can still be risky for those with acne-prone skin due to the possibility of trapped bacteria, dead skin cells, excess sebum, and dirt inside the skin’s pores that can worsen breakouts.
What is slugging skincare?
Slugging skincare is a Korean beauty, or K-Beauty, skincare trend that involves coating the face in petroleum jelly or Vaseline. By doing so, Vaseline prevents trans-epidermal water loss in order to keep moisture in the skin, which is beneficial for dry skin moods (1). Those who use slugging skincare in their ritual also say that slugging helps them achieve a plump, firm skin surface.
While slugging skincare seems like a new trend because it’s gone viral on TikTok and Reddit recently, it’s definitely not a new practice. For those experiencing dry, dull, patchy, or rough skin, especially in the winter, slugging skincare was a K-Beauty technique used for years in order to keep a layer of moisture on the skin before going to sleep. It almost seemed like an overnight solution to not only wake up with soft skin, but it also helped to target elasticity and reduce the appearance of wrinkles (2).
When slugging went viral on TikTok, a ton of users specifically filmed their own videos to talk about how they’ve known about slugging for years and have slugged from a young age since their grandmothers told them they’ll never have wrinkles if they slug. So, slugging is definitely not anything new, even though the trend just blew up.
With slugging skincare going so viral online, skincare enthusiasts have put their own twist on slugging by using different products like Aquaphor or Cerave Healing Ointment instead of Vaseline. Traditionally, slugging skincare is done with Vaseline, but there are definitely other options to explore that have been popping up on TikTok if you’re interested in trying different products for slugging. This is especially true if you’re eager to try slugging but want to stick to cruelty-free and sustainable products.
Is slugging skincare safe and effective for the skin?
Vaseline’s main ingredient, petroleum jelly, is safe to use on the skin and is even shown in studies to be beneficial for babies with eczema (3). According to Dr. Angelo Landriscina, a dermatologist quoted in Byrdie, slugging skincare is beneficial because petroleum jelly can help fix a depletion of lipids, which are crucial for keeping the outermost layer of skin intact and protecting the skin’s barrier (1). Without lipids, the skin is vulnerable to pollutants and toxins and can ultimately experience a trans-epidermal water loss.
Vaseline is said to act as an occlusive by experts (1). By definition, occlusive are moisturizing agents that work by forming a protective layer on the surface of the skin to create a barrier that prevents moisture loss (4). Occlusives mimic the skin’s natural lipid barrier, which helps protect the skin from external irritants in the surrounding environment, and simultaneously work to smooth and soften the skin while increasing elasticity (5). By creating a waterproof and impermeable coating on the skin, occlusives like Vaseline, beeswax, and shea butter can stop water and moisture evaporation from the skin to keep it hydrated and not dry (4).
In addition to these benefits of slugging, studies have shown that Vaseline, unlike other occlusives, actually allows normal skin barrier recovery instead of impeding barrier recovery (6). This is due to the fact that Vaseline doesn’t seal the skin completely so the skin is still able to produce more lipids to repair the skin barrier (1). Plus, the American Academy of Dermatology Association has published articles on the numerous ways that petroleum jelly can be beneficial for skincare, including:
- Rehydrating the nails and cuticles to minimize brittleness and chipping
- Treating diaper rash for babies
- Prevent chafing and blisters
- Healing minor wounds
- Rehydrating sensitive areas of the skin such as the eyelids and lips (7)
Will slugging make me break out?
However, because Vaseline is such a thick formulation, it begs the question: can slugging skincare exacerbate acne? Is petroleum jelly a comedogenic ingredient? Is slugging as glamorous as it looks on TikTok? According to an article on petroleum jelly, the ingredient has been used as an emollient since the 1800s and was used not only for dry skin, but for cuts and burns, and preventing infection (8).
While petroleum jelly helped in certain areas, slugging still seems to cause unwanted breakouts, especially in those who have acne-prone and oily skin moods (9). In fact, it’s typically recommended by dermatologists to avoid anything occlusive entirely if you have acne-prone skin since petroleum can trap bacteria, dead skin cells, excess sebum, and dirt inside the skin’s pores to worsen breakouts (2). In terms of being comedogenic, Vaseline can’t clog the pores because the size of the molecules are too large to fit into the pores – but it can still be risky due to the possibility of trapped debris (10).
Not to mention, users on TikTok have pointed out how slugging isn’t as glamorous as the results seem. They’ve pointed out how the process of slugging can cause hair and other particles to get stuck to their face before bedtime, cause greasy hands which lead to a greasy phone, and forces them to sleep with a towel on their pillow. Overall, by keeping in mind everything you’ve learned about slugging, you can decide if it seems like the right technique or commitment for you.
Written by Selena Ponton