If you follow many skincare or beauty accounts and like to keep up with what’s going on in the world of skin, you’ve probably come across the term ‘slugging’ more than once. The moisturising hack promises dewy, healthy skin overnight, and it’s been making the rounds all over the internet as of late, but what exactly is slugging? And is it doing more harm to your skin than good?

What is “slugging” in skincare?

Slugging is an intense form of moisturising that uses an occlusive moisturiser, typically Vaseline, which is 100 per cent petroleum jelly, to help lock in hydration overnight. The trend originated from Korean beauty, and the idea is that it acts like a plaster for your skin, preventing trans-epidermal water loss. It promises to ‘lock in’ moisture and your other skincare products so that the skin is kept looking healthy, plump and hydrated for longer. The process is relatively simple – you apply a layer of Vaseline to your face in the evening after cleansing and applying a hydrating serum and moisturiser. Fans claim that their skin is “intensely hydrated” and “dewy looking” by morning.

Does it work, and what does it do for the skin?

For many years, this type of moisturising technique has been used in dermatology practice to tackle severe dry skin conditions like eczema. It is a technique often recommended to those with severely dry or sensitive skin, particularly on areas such as the eyelids and lips that lose moisture and dry out easily. Slugging can help soothe irritated patches and works wonders for sensitive skin. It’s beneficial in the winter when our skin barrier is more prone to becoming dry, damaged and wind-chapped. We know that at night our skin loses more water than it does during the daytime – a process called transepidermal water loss.

The layer of petroleum jelly will stop this process from happening, which is why the skin will feel so hydrated and moisturised in the morning. As your petroleum jelly will lock everything in, we must layer it only on top of non-comedogenic skincare products.

Should you be slugging?

The goal of any effective skincare regime is a good balance between the right ingredients for you. If you’re going to try slugging, approach it with caution. It’s not suitable for very oily or acne-prone skin types because it can cause more irritation. If you’re trapping bacteria and occluding the skin, you’re preventing the skin from being able to breathe and slowing down cell turnover, so there is a big potential for breakouts. As your petroleum jelly will lock everything in, we must layer it only on top of non-comedogenic skincare products.

If you’re acne-prone, I’d recommend avoiding slugging altogether and apply a blend of products to simultaneously infuse the skin with humectants, antioxidants, exfoliants, peptides and vitamins instead. This way, you’re using actives whilst hydrating and repairing barrier function.

Also, consider slugging in zones rather than all over the face. If you have areas that are particularly dry, usually the lips, around the nostrils or around the eyes, then using a little Vaseline here can create a barrier and protect from further irritation.

My thoughts

I think there is some merit in slugging since petroleum jelly is an occlusive. But you should approach it cautiously and only use it if you have severely dry or chapped skin. Personally, to combat dry skin, I like to use a mixture of occlusives to help prevent water loss and hyaluronic acid to draw moisture to the surface of the skin. A good, targeted skincare regime is always the best strategy for healthy, radiant skin in the long term.