TikTok has become the go-to place for beauty hacks over the past year but there’s one site that has been at the forefront of skincare trends for much longer – Reddit. Buried within sub-Reddits are myriad skincare tips, hacks, and product recommendations and the latest to go viral is a technique known as slugging, or slugging skincare.
Originally posted to the SkincareAddiction subreddit, the slugging technique of slathering yourself with Vaseline made headlines for promising to leave skin looking clear and radiant. And, as many of us look to head into summer with a fresh complexion, the hack is trending again.
What’s more, there is now a rising hair slugging trend that promises to do a similar thing to your locks as slugging skincare does to your face. Albeit without Vaseline.
Below we explain what slugging means, how it works, and what you need to be aware of before you start coating your face and hair in petroleum jelly and oils…
FURTHER READING: Skin gritting: The Reddit skincare trend on the rise again
The term “slugging” is said to originate from the world of K-beauty, which has long been ahead of the curve when it comes to makeup and skincare trends.
You can read more about this in our guide on Where to buy the best Korean makeup and skincare in the UK, but products like BB creams and sheet masks originated in Korea. As did ingredients like calendula and aloe vera. It’s no wonder why people from Korea more commonly have skin that looks like porcelain.
Slugging skincare involves coating your skin in petroleum jelly or another so-called “occlusive” agent to the point where your skin feels slimy like the skin of a slug.
Occlusives are products that form a barrier of protection on the skin to lock moisture inside. Vaseline is probably the most popular and well-known occlusive agent, but you can also buy products that contain occlusives such as squalane, beeswax, shea butter, castor oil, and more.
The reason it purportedly leaves your skin radiant is that it stops your skin’s natural moisture from evaporating, while also locking in all the goodness of the serums and treatments that are applied beforehand.
Slugging skincare is particularly useful on your face because it helps maintain your natural skin barrier. This barrier is responsible for your complexion and if it gets damaged or destroyed, it leaves your skin looking red, uneven, dull and even sallow.
It’s also incredibly easy to damage this barrier. Sun exposure is a common way to break the barrier, which is why wearing SPF every day, even when you’re indoors, is vital! Pollution can cause damage, as can skincare products that are too harsh. This includes exfoliants as well as using too many products that don’t work nicely together.
If you’ve ever noticed burning or tingling after you’ve applied skincare, chances are your natural moisture barrier is taking a beating.
Damage to this barrier doesn’t just change the look of skin, it also changes its texture and feel. This is because the barrier helps your skin balance out fats, moisture and hydration and is what gives youthful skin its plump and glow. If this delicate balance is thrown out of whack, skin can look old prematurely.
Put simply, slugging helps repair the damage from all of these external stressors by locking in moisture and goodness. When applied at night, this gives your skin’s barrier the chance to heal and rebuild itself meaning you wake up looking like a new person!
Yes. And it’s quite a big one. When you apply Vaseline or similar all over your face in this way – aside from coating your pillow with “slime” – you’re also preventing oils from escaping.
If you have oily skin or suffer from breakouts and acne; conditions that mean too much sebum is produced, then you could cause further irritation by not allowing this excess oil to drain away. That’s not to say slugging skincare isn’t suitable for oily or acne-prone skin. It should just be used sparingly.
Depending on your skin type and condition, slugging should also be reserved as a weekly event at least. Or it should be used when your skin barrier is looking particularly damaged.
Slugging too much can cause your skin to become reliant on Vaseline and you’ll find it could make things worse.
For all of its benefits, Vaseline does get a bad rep because of its use of petroleum. Petroleum, also known as crude oil, is a fossil fuel and as a society, we’re trying to reduce our reliance on such fuels.
If you want to try slugging skincare but don’t want to use petroleum jelly, we’ve started using the Beauty Kitchen Natruline Vegan lip balm (£2.99). It doesn’t come in as large a pot as Vaseline, which can make slugging a bit more difficult, but it works just as well.
The best time to take part in slugging skincare is overnight. Your skin is already doing its best work as you sleep, so it makes sense to give it a helping hand. It also means you don’t have to leave your house with a face full of slime.
If the idea of a full slugging skincare routine doesn’t appeal, you can be more selective with your application. For instance, after applying your eye cream, you can cover it in a thin layer of Vaseline or Natruline. This locks the cream into your skin and stops all of its goodness from escaping.
Like face slugging, hair slugging involves saturating the hair and scalp with oils and conditioners and wrapping it tightly in order to hydrate it and lock in moisture.
There are a couple of ways to carry out hair slugging. The first is to apply lightweight hair oil to the ends of the hair, wrapping it in a sock and securing it with a silk scrunchie. Silk is less damaging to the hair, which is why not any old scrunchie will do. You could also wrap your coated hair in a silk turban.
For a more intense slug, apply a heavier oil from root to ends, put a hair mask on top, and secure it all with a sock, scrunchie, and/or turban.
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Victoria is founder and editor-in-chief of mamabella, freelance journalist and Mum. She has a passion for empowering people to feel beautiful whatever their age, size, skin type and budget