We Ask a Derm: What Is Slugging? And Does This TikTok Trend Actually Work?

Hey, we’re no stranger to Tiktok beauty trends and tips. But when we heard that people were “slugging” in the quest for better skin, we were initially confused. Fortunately, it has nothing to do with the slippery creatures in your backyard—here’s what you need to know.

Um, so what is slugging?

“Slugging is just a trendy term to describe the age-old practice of occluding the skin to allow for maximum absorption of products applied to the skin, while preventing water evaporation to increase hydration,” explains Rebecca Marcus, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Maei MD.

And why are people doing this?

Devotees on TikTok (and in various “Slug-Life” threads on Reddit) swear that slugging leaves them with softer and more hydrated skin when they wake up.

Marcus attributes its recent popularity to the skin barrier becoming a hot topic among skin care enthusiasts. “People are realizing that having a healthy, intact skin barrier will get you more luminous, glowing skin, and slugging is an easy way to support the barrier,” she says.

How exactly do you slug your skin?

“It’s very easy to do. Simply apply an occlusive product such as Vaseline, Aquaphor or another petrolatum-based product as the last step of your skincare regimen. Leave it on overnight and wash off in the morning,” says Marcus. “For best results, a treatment serum should be applied first, so that its active ingredients can penetrate the skin better without evaporating, thus making it even more effective,” she adds.

But won’t it clog my pores?

Actually, probably not. “Pure petrolatum is heavy and can feel greasy on oily and acne-prone skin; however, it has not been shown to actually clog pores, so it’s fine to use,” Dr. David Lortscher, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Curology tells us.

That said, it is best suited for those with normal or dry skin. “Since slugging involves occluding the skin, it could lead to acne in those who are acne-prone or have oily skin as sebum and acne-causing bacteria can become trapped inside pores and cause inflammation and pimples,” cautions Marcus.

So, should I try it?

If you’re seriously concerned about dryness or any other skin issue, your best bet is to work with your dermatologist. But if this winter has left you with a few more dry patches than usual, then give it a go. One more thing: Dr. Lortscher cautions that although it’s very rare, some people can be allergic to petrolatum, so just make sure to do a patch test first, OK? (And maybe don’t sleep on your favorite pillowcase.)

Here’s How to Keep Your Skin Barrier Strong and Healthy

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