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It Looks Like Nail Slugging Has Entered the Chat (Allow Us to Explain)

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There are so many beauty trends on TikTok that it can be quite overwhelming to sort through them all. And though some of them are duds, there are a few that exceeded our expectations— like slugging. The K-beauty skincare method surged in popularity this spring and is known for sealing in moisture and keeping skin hydrated throughout the night. Because of how effective it is, it’s not all that surprising that the slugging trend made its way into our haircare routines, and now, our manicures. To further understand what nail slugging is, we asked a few experts for their thoughts. (Spoiler alert: You’re going to want to add this to your routine stat). 

Meet the Experts:

What is slugging?

Slugging is a skincare layering technique where you apply an ointment (like petroleum jelly or a thick cream) as the final step of your routine. The ointment acts as a barrier to seal in moisture by preventing TEWL or transepidermal water loss as you sleep. Although slugging gained traction on TikTok earlier this year, the technique has actually been around for centuries.

What is nail slugging?

Similar to traditional slugging, this latest trend aims to nourish and hydrate skin—but in this case, it’s focused to the skin around your nails. “Hydrated cuticles are the key to overall nail health. Nail slugging helps you grow stronger and healthier nails, while preventing cracked, dry and brittle nails,” says Glass. 

Marcus adds, “Occlusion is an age-old practice that enhances the penetration of products into the skin. By applying occlusive products over the cuticle oil, one ensures that the nourishing ingredients are able to be most effective.” Overall, the extra step can help prevent dryness, soften skin and protect your manicure.

What are the benefits of nail slugging?

The key benefits of nail slugging include strengthening, protecting and repairing your cuticles. “As a result of washing our hands repeatedly throughout the day and using hand sanitizer, the skin around our nails is especially susceptible to dryness,” says Camp. “Doing these things can strip or remove oils from the skin, and when there’s less oil on the skin, more water will evaporate, which leads to cracked fingers and cuticles.”

Simply put: Nail slugging can prevent infection, hangnails and damaged cuticles, while also promoting healthy nail growth in the long run. 

What are the downsides of nail slugging?

The main thing is it can be messy. “Nail slugging involves the use of an oil-based product, which makes it difficult to do much of anything when your hands are covered in grease. The ointments can also stain clothing and linens,” cautions Camp. But, before you push aside this trend, we have a few solutions to tackle this minor issue below.

What are the steps to nail slugging? 

Welcome to nail slugging—where you only need to follow five simple steps to keep your nails healthy and moisturized. 

  1. Prep your hands. Start with exfoliating and removing any dead skin cells from your fingertips. (Glass notes that exfoliating before nail slugging will provide the best results.) We recommend using a gentle body scrub to get the job done.
  2. Apply cuticle oil. Add a drop or two of cuticle oil to the skin around your nails and massage it in for 30 seconds. If you don’t have cuticle oil lying around, any hydrating oil like jojoba oil, avocado oil or vitamin E works, too. 
  3. Coat your hands in a rich moisturizer. The experts suggest using a nutrient-rich moisturizer, especially ones that target cuticle care and have nourishing ingredients like shea butter or coconut oil. Tip: Camp recommends soaking your nails in warm water for two to three minutes before applying the moisturizer to “saturate the top layer of skin, so that when you apply the ointment afterward, you seal the moisture in better.” 
  4. Apply a heavy balm or ointment. Apply petroleum jelly or a thick texture cream (with ingredients like mineral oil, glycerin or beeswax) around your nail beds to occlude the skin and trap in moisture. Massage it in for 30 seconds per finger. 
  5. Throw on some gloves. If you don’t want to lay in bed with greasy hands, all three experts recommend covering your hands with cotton gloves (or socks). This step will keep your sheets and pillows from staining, while also encouraging the moisturizing concoction to penetrate even further into the skin. 

Bottom Line:

If you’re into the slugging trend for your skin and hair, chances are you’re going to want to give your cuticles some love, too. This oil and balm combo can easily become a part of your weekly routine—whether you just got a fresh manicure or your hands are just feeling super dry. 

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