The latest skincare trend known as Slugging!

Firstly, let’s get one thing out of the way: slugging in skin care terms has nothing to do with actual slugs!   However, apparently the K-beauty trend did get its name from the idea of the mucus trail left by a slug and this is kind of what you look like going to bed covered in petrolatum aka Vaseline.

This trend is being hailed as the secret to a soft, dewy and glass-like glow that skincare addicts are looking for all over the world.  

But this is not something new….I first heard of this from a client (of a certain age) claiming this was the secret to her line free skin around 30 years ago!  

What does slugging involve?

Slugging is simply applying a layer of Vaseline onto our face and leaving it on overnight. Vaseline contains triple-purified petrolatum, an occlusive ingredient that forms a seal over the skin, preventing water loss and enabling a damaged skin barrier to repair itself.

Youtubers and Instagrammers claim this pretty cheap technique is responsible for their soft, glowing complexions.  Sounds too good to be true?!

Skin Science

The outside layer of our skin is called the stratum corneum and is made up of dead skin cells.  We produce our own natural moisturisers called lipids –  think of this as glue that keeps this outermost layer intact and healthy.  Without the lipids, our skin is compromised – as less lipids in the skin leads to trans-epidermal water loss.  When the lipids are depleted, due to the environment, lifestyle choices or the genetic lottery, the glue is damaged and our protective barrier lets water escape from our skin.  Vaseline can fix this.

Skin Benefits of Slugging

Vaseline acts like an occlusive and a skin protector, helping prevent 99% of trans-epidermal water loss.  We need some water loss so the 1% of TEWL that is lost whilst using Vaseline gives it the advantage over other occlusives that form an impermeable barrier on top of the skin.  This water loss acts as a signal to tell our skin to produce more intercellular lipids helping to repair the skin barrier.

So, Vaseline prevents most water loss while allowing our skin to repair it’s barrier, leaving it better off once the Vaseline is removed.

Think of slugging as an overnight treatment for those with dry skin.   If you suffer from dry, dehydrated or flaky skin, this is a treatment you might want to consider trying.  

When we age our skin doesn’t produce the same natural moisturisers and this can contribute to decreased hydration, saggy skin with lines and wrinkles.  Slugging acts like a protective barrier, keeping water locked in and the skin plumped. 

If you suffer with skin irritation such as eczema, slugging would help to repair your already compromised skin barrier.   Combine that with the fact that Vaseline contains no additives or fragrance makes it safe for those of us with very sensitive or eczema type skins.

Who shouldn’t try it and why not?

So I have agreed that there could be an argument for those of us with dry, dehydrated, flaky or ageing skins to give it a go – but there are some of us that should definitely not consider this beauty trend.  

If you have combination, oily or acne-prone skin – I would give this a miss.   While cosmetic grade petroleum jelly -aka Vaseline – is non-comedogenic (which means = won’t clog pores), because it is such a thick occlusive, it will trap dead skin cells and bacteria which will result in millia, blackheads and breakouts.   So, no, slugging isn’t a good way to deal with maskne.

If you want to try it, here’s what to know:

  • Petroleum jelly can seal moisture into the skin
  • Petroleum jelly doesn’t add moisture or hydration as it isn’t a moisturiser or humectant
  • Double cleanse thoroughly, apply a moisturiser and let it absorb.  Next apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly and leave on overnight.  
  • Try this for 5 nights in a row, then re-access and if needed try this treatment once a month