When we first got wind of the K-beauty skincare trend known as “slugging”, we knew it was going to involve something gooey and slimy… but on our faces?
We looked into this mind-boggling trend a little more, and we’ve got all the details you need about slugging right here — including the do’s and don’ts, and how to incorporate it into your skincare routine.
Slugging: what’s the hype all about?
Originally skincare step popularised in Korea, slugging has been gaining traction in the West recently.
The step involves slathering your face with petroleum jelly (usually Vaseline) after you’re done with your nighttime routine.
The beauty community has been raving about the benefits of this unorthodox skincare trend — they found that slugging increased the efficacy of their moisturiser, made their skin less tight, softer, suppler, and helped to lock in moisture overnight.
There’s also a ton of beauty gurus on Reddit who swear by the #sluglife, and noticed visible and significant improvements to their skin’s texture and radiance!
But how does such a simple, unassuming product reap so many benefits for your skin?
Keyword: Occlusive. Petroleum jelly contains triple-purified petrolatum, an occlusive ingredient that forms a protective layer over the skin, preventing water loss and helping to repair the damaged skin barrier. This is also why petrolatum is such a major player in skincare formulations; its incredible ability to retain moisture makes it a superstar in the moisturisation department, and is especially helpful when treating sensitive or dehydrated skin.
Moisturising ingredients 101: Occlusives vs Humectants vs Emollients
At this point, you may be wondering more about the word “occlusive” and what it means in the skincare world. Here’s the lowdown before we go on to talk more about slugging.
Occlusive skincare products provide a protective seal over the surface of the skin to prevent water loss — think of it as the top of a lake being frozen over in winter. Occlusives give your skin an environment to naturally heal and repair damaged skin barriers from harsh weather, products, or over-exfoliation.
Then there are humectant products like hyaluronic acids, which draw in moisture from the surrounding environment onto the skin. Using a humectant supplies hydration to the skin, and then putting the occlusive on top traps that water for maximum hydration.
But then again, all that moisture is for nothing if your skin is irritated or flaking off to reveal red angry patches, and that’s where emollients come in. Emollients come in the form of creams, gels, lotions, etc. and work to restore the skin barrier and soothe the skin so you’ll feel more comfortable.
Should you add slugging to your skincare routine?
Slugging is highly recommended for those with dry, dehydrated, or sensitive skin as petrolatum truly is the magnum opus when it comes to locking in moisture. Many Redditors have also adopted the #sluglife as a last-ditch effort to restore their dry, irritated, and over-exfoliated skin back to what it once was.
If you’re acne-prone or acne-prone with sensitive skin, it’s best to skip slugging altogether. Bear in mind that petrolatum is an occlusive ingredient, which forms an impermeable barrier on top of the skin, so you should avoid this if you struggle with acne. After all, your skin needs to “breathe” and it’s important not to seal it off completely.
While petroleum jelly is non-comedogenic and doesn’t penetrate the pores, it can trap dead skin cells and oil, worsening your acne.
How do I start slugging?
You’ll just need a small amount for your face, or any problem areas you want to address such as chapped lips. A pea size for your face should do just the trick.
Make sure to slug only at the end of your skincare routine after your moisturisers, essences, and serums as it’s an occlusive and forms a barrier when applied, so any skincare applied after slugging would be rendered useless.
It’s also important to cleanse the next morning after slugging; you’ll want to cleanse if you use an occlusive product at night to avoid clogged pores, and to get rid of the dust and dirt that are attached onto the surface.
Will slugging cause clogged pores?
If you find that your pores are starting to look clogged but you still want to continue incorporating slugging into your skincare routine, try ditching one of your richer or heavier essences or serums, or opt for lighter products instead.
Petroleum jelly does not clog the pores, rather, it’s all the skincare product you’ve applied underneath it.
“Slugging” products to try
The product that started it all — Vaseline. With its affordable cost and slew of benefits for your skin, it’s a simple an inexpensive way to achieve soft and supple skin!
The Vaseline Petroleum Jelly retails for S4.20 at Watsons.
2. Cerave Healing Ointment
This healing balm isn’t just composed of petroleum jelly, but also other barrier-repairing ingredients such as ceramides and hyaluronic acid to provide intense, long-lasting moisturisation and protects, soothes, and relieves dry skin.
Developed with dermatologists, CeraVe Healing Ointment provides intense, long-lasting moisturization and helps protect, soothe, and relieve extremely dry chapped and chafed skin. CeraVe Healing Ointment combines a non-greasy feel with skin identical ceramides.
Skincare Instagrammer @msceebee attests to that, saying that the Cerave Healing Ointment “works wonderfully as an occlusive at the end of my evening routine during these colder days when it takes a little more effort to keep my skin moisturised.”
The Cerave Healing Ointment retails for S$29.50 on Shopee.
If your skin is really – and we mean really – dry, you may want to try Aquaphor’s Healing Ointment instead. Besides being an occlusive like Vaseline, it also contains humectants such as glycerin and panthenol to draw in moisture from the environment, which makes it a great option if your skin already lacks moisture.
The Aquaphor Healing Ointment retails for S$11.47 on iHerb.