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What is Slugging – and Should You Try It?

Making a slimy mess may actually be good for some skin types
September 27, 2022
Man Putting on Petroleum Jelly

Slugging is a fairly new, buzzy term to describe slathering your face with petroleum jelly as the last stage of your nightly skin-care routine. The practice leaves the face as slimy as a slug’s trail, hence the name “slugging.”

Dermatology research appears to show that slugging provides some benefits because it keeps skin moisture from evaporating overnight. The result can be a nice glow in the morning. The downside is it’s messy. Towels on the pillow cover, wearing a nightcap and similar precautions are required to prevent the petroleum jelly from smearing all over the place. If you’ve ever gotten a blob of petroleum jelly on an article of clothing, you know from experience that it’s not coming off without a fight.

With those caveats in mind, let’s take a closer look at slugging.

What is it?

Slugging is a skin care technique where you rub Vaseline jelly or another petrolatum product on your face before bed. The objective is to prevent transepidermal water loss, which simply refers to water evaporation through the skin. The oily balm covers the skin pores so water cannot evaporate and dry out the skin. Slugging at night is considered optimal because the skin works hardest to repair itself while we sleep. Also, you probably don’t want to go out in public during the daytime after smearing petroleum jelly all over your face. 

The first step to slugging is making sure your skin is really clean. Slugging will seal your facial skin, so any sunscreen, residual makeup or dirt is going to be trapped and you run the risk of a breakout or rash.

Next, apply a moisturizer.

Then, for slugging to work, you really have to apply the petroleum jelly until your entire face is coated. The jelly doesn’t need to be layered on thick, just spread out evenly so it covers the skin. Avoid your eyes, lips and nostrils. Petroleum jelly has a distinctive odor. 

Wait a few minutes for the jelly to set and become slightly tacky to the touch. This helps reduce mess while you sleep.

Some people then go to bed wearing a nightcap with an elastic band to keep their hair out of the way. 

This will also be a good night to remove your best bed linens and replace with older sheets and pillowcases, or at least place a towel over the pillow.

If Vaseline or generic petroleum jelly is too much bother, consider using a product rich in ceramides, jojoba oil, or squalane, as these ingredients replenish the skin with healthy lipids that keep your face smooth, supple and looking youthful. 

In the morning, use an oil cleanser to remove the petroleum jelly.

As with any new routine, ease into slugging until you can gauge whether it offers you any benefits. Try slugging every other day to assess the results before making this part of your nightly beauty regimen.

Who can benefit from slugging? 

Slugging seems to work best for people with extremely dry skin. By sealing in moisture, you can help your skin’s natural ability to repair and rejuvenate itself.

Talk to your dermatologist before you try slugging if you have oily or acne-prone skin, as covering your pores with petroleum jelly can trap dead skin cells and sebaceous oils, creating an environment ripe for acne to develop. People with oily skin may actually worsen their condition by slugging.

Even if you have dry skin, if you notice a change in your skin after slugging, such as redness or a rash, it’s best to stop and consult with a dermatologist before the condition gets worse. And, if you have any questions whatsoever, you may want to consult with your dermatologist prior to experimenting with slugging, too. 

As beauty trends go, slugging is not a one-size-fits-all solution to skin hydration.

Let Walk-in Dermatology Take Care of You 

If you have concerns about any skin condition and need dependable answers fast, you don’t have to wait. Walk-in Dermatology is here to keep you healthy. Whether you have questions about slugging or need treatment for any skin condition, our team of dermatologists and experienced healthcare staff will address your concerns and provide the necessary care. We can set up a Video Visit and even prescribe medications remotely, or you can schedule an appointment with us online. The choice is yours. But don’t wait until the problem gets worse. Contact us today.