The latest trend in skin care is quickly gaining popularity for those looking to take their routine to the next level—and it's called "slugging." You may have come across the term before, but what is slugging exactly? The name may evoke images of slugs and their slimy trail, though slugging doesn't involve snail- or mucus-based skin care products at all.

The slugging skin care trend, now making the rounds on social media, involves going to bed with a thick layer of petrolatum moisturizer or ointment on your face. The idea is to create a barrier that seals in your skin's moisture and locks in other skin care products, leading to soft, supple, and glowing skin.

If you're curious about the slugging skin care trend, here is how to do it, who it's for, and why you should consider adding it to your regimen.

What Is Slugging?

Like many skin care trends, slugging comes from Korean beauty practices. It's thought to have originated in South Korea, but thanks to social media, slugging has made its way to North America and beyond. The trend quickly picked up steam on Reddit, TikTok, and Instagram.

Slugging involves coating the skin with an occlusive moisturizer. Slugging is usually performed with petrolatum-based products, including petroleum jelly, ointments, or thick moisturizers containing petrolatum.

The term "slugging" is inspired by its resemblance to a snail's trail since the skin appears shiny and slimy. The layer of petrolatum sits on top of the skin instead of getting absorbed like a traditional moisturizer, leaving a greasy residue, so slugging should be done at night.

Should You Incorporate Slugging into Your Skin Care Routine?

Slugging reduces water loss and supports skin barrier function, so if you have dry or damaged skin, the practice may be beneficial for you.

Slugging creates a barrier around the skin that prevents water from escaping, a process known as transepidermal water loss. Research published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology demonstrates that petrolatum-based products accelerate barrier recovery and block water loss by trapping moisture under the skin's surface.

Petrolatum has been shown to possess antimicrobial properties and has positive effects on skin barrier repair, according to an April 2016 study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.

Who Is Slugging For?

People with dry or dehydrated skin will likely benefit the most from slugging, seeing as it traps in moisture and reduces water loss. Ointments that contain petroleum jelly have more staying power and are more effective at reducing water loss, according to Mayo Clinic. Those with skin barrier damage may also find slugging beneficial due to its accelerated recovery effects.

Who It's Not For

All this said, slugging is not for everyone. People with acne-prone skin should avoid applying petroleum jelly directly to the face as it may cause breakouts, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Although petrolatum is considered a non-comedogenic ingredient, meaning it doesn't clog pores, it can still trap ingredients that are pore-clogging. Slugging may also be too greasy for those with oily skin.

How to Try Slugging

Slugging is performed as the last step of your nighttime skin care routine. To maximize skin hydration, apply hydrating products first, such as toners, serums, and moisturizers. Remember: a petrolatum ointment or petroleum jelly is not meant to replace your regular moisturizer. In fact, moisturizing before is an important step of slugging.

Once you've applied your other skin care products, seal them in with your slugging product of choice. The EltaMD Moisturizer contains petrolatum as its first ingredient, making it highly moisturizing and perfect for slugging. The EltaMD Laser Balm Post-Procedure Healing Ointment is also suitable for slugging as it has a 60 percent concentration of petrolatum.

Recognizing that it's safe, hypoallergenic, and non-comedogenic, slugging with a petrolatum ointment or moisturizer can be done as frequently as you'd like. The only downside of slugging every night? You might make a mess of your pillowcase!


  • Lacey Muinos

    Lacey is a Southern California-based freelance writer who combines her passions—fitness, health, and a vegan lifestyle—with her work to help readers feel and be their best. Her work has been featured in Healthline, Livestrong, Verywell Fit, Eat This Not That, KinderBeauty, and more.

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