Slugging is a hot skincare trend that originated in Japan and the K Beauty world of South Korea. It's also been long popular in the Black community. And now, it's everywhere! Don’t worry, the technique does not use actual slugs. Instead, it’s an old beauty trick that helps improve the results of your skin care, and leaves your skin feeling soft and supple. Everyone from bloggers to board certified dermatologists are using this technique, so let’s check it out!
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Empyri's Best Products for Slugging Face
What is slugging?
Slugging involves coating your skin with a heavy occlusive as the final step of nighttime skincare routines. This seals moisture in and creates a thick layer of skin protectant against the environment, water loss and skin dryness. Ingredients layered underneath are also protected and deliver better results. Beauty enthusiasts love the shiny, slick look and feel of slugging.
Types of skincare products that are be used
So what should you use to slug? Remember, the role of your slugging product is to create a barrier: you want to keep all the hydrating ingredients from your other products locked IN and keep external irritants like dry air OUT.
Slugging purists insist on using a product with petroleum jelly in it. This is the best product to use to get the shiny, “slugged” skin look and feel. As you'll see below, there's many good options to choose from with and without.
Our recommended products:
There's a lot to love about this cerave healing ointment. It contains petroleum jelly, which is the ultimate occlusive for slugging. This ointment also contains hyaluronic acid, a powerful humectant that draws up to 1000x its weight in water to the surface of the skin. And to top it off, ceramides, a type of emollient, fortify the moisture barrier. If you slug with this ointment, it's impossible not to wake up with skin hydrated and a soft.
Vaseline is 100% made of petroleum jelly, and is the most popular product used to slug. It's accessible and affordable. It has been used for years on its own as a skin protectant to treat dry skin, especially in areas like the nose, lips, elbows and ankles.
This luxurious face cream takes slugging to the next level. It's safe to use for all skin types but definitely best for extra dry and mature skin. This product has a rich texture without being to heavy. Formulated with ceramides and fatty acids which strengthen the skin's barrier to retain moisture and reduce signs of aging. If you're looking to really treat yourself, choose SkinCeauticals for slugging!
Aquaphor healing ointment is becoming very popular in the slugging world, and for good reason. Aquaphor is 41% petroleum jelly. The other 59% is ingredients that will repair and hydrate your skin: glycerin, mineral oil, lanolin alcohol, bisabol and cerasin. But, if you have a lanoline allergy, Aquaphor is not for you.
If you want to slug with organic skin care, this face cream from Honest Beauty is for you. It's formulated with moisturizing seed oils and is just heavy enough to act as your final step to lock in moisture overnight.
In addition to barrier strengthening ceramides, this cream from Farmacy contains Buckwheat Honey. Can you picture the texture of honey? Yep. Perfect for slugging - to moisturize and lock in moisture all in one go.
Does it work?
Slugging absolutely works! Depending on your skin type of course! Even board-certified dermatologists see the benefits of slugging, especially for sensitivities such as eczema and chapped skin. It's no wonder this skin care method has become so popular.
Who is slugging best suited for?
Slugging is best suited for people with dry, irritated skin that is in need of some extra hydration, or those with a damaged moisture barrier. Sensitive skin issues such as eczema enjoy the soothing results of slugging. It’s especially useful in the winter when weather conditions dry out the skin even more.
So what are the benefits of slugging?
Improves skin texture
Slugging improves skin texture by locking in the hydration provided by moisturizing ingredients/products. By improving hydration, skin texture is improved: less flaky patches, less visible fine lines and wrinkles, and smoother, silkier looking skin.
Dry or sensitive skin craves hydration. Slugging locks in the moisture we’ve added with hydrating serums and creams. It prevents transepidermal water loss, which is when water evaporates from the skin.
Repairs skin barrier
Since slugging products are heavy, they create a temporary barrier on the skin. This prevents moisture from escaping and irritants from coming in (ie dry air). When functioning properly, your skin does this job on its own. But many of us have damaged our barriers through overuse of harsh products and/or too much exposure to the sun.
By creating a physical barrier with a slugging product, your skin is given much-needed time to heal itself - and get back to its usual job as a barrier to moisture loss.
As we age, our skin’s barrier becomes weaker and doesn't retain moisture as well. This lack of moisture is what makes natural changes to our skin more visible, especially wrinkles. Mature skin is begging for more moisture! Slugging is a great anti aging solution to dry skin, because it enhances the benefits of the hydrating products you’re already using. It will help maintain the health of your skin for longer into your life.
Are there disadvantages to slugging?
Yes! Petroleum jelly can stain fabric, especially when too much is used. If you’re ready to take the leap (or slide?) and start slugging, remember the golden skincare rule: a little goes a long way.
So who should avoid slugging?
Those with acne beware
Slugging is not the best acne treatment for anyone who has acne prone skin. It can trap dead skin cells and bacteria in the skin, causing black heads and breakouts. Do not slug over top of prescription acne treatment products, over-the-counter spot treatments or acne patches. This will certainly cause irritation and can even result in drastic hyperpigmentation of the over–treated areas.
Likewise, oily skin types should avoid slugging. Heavy slugging ingredients can clog pores and make the outermost layer of skin too oily.
Slugging does not have to be used over the entire face. Those with combination skin can use this method to combat dry skin but don't apply it to the oily areas.
How To Add Slugging To Your Routine
Wash your face. Cleanse the skin and remove dead skin cells with your favourite cleanser. Anything left behind on the skin will get trapped under the slugging layers. This will cause more problems like clogged pores or breakouts for those who are oily or acne prone. So make sure your face is squeaky clean!
Apply moisturizer(s). Since its main purpose is to improve hydration, slugging needs moisturizing ingredients underneath to be effective. Remember, what you slug with (Vaseline for example) sits on top of the skin. It's protecting your skin from moisture escape so you need to give it something to protect!
Choose moisturizing ingredients that are humectants - these draw moisture to the skin. A moisturizing facial serum is a great choice. If you use more than one, apply your serums from thinnest to thickest so that every ingredient can penetrate the skin. Finish with a cream moisturizer.
Slug away! Using a pea-sized amount, apply a thin layer over the face and neck. This layer will stay pretty slimy on your skin so be prepared for what your pillow case might look like in the morning!
How often should you do slugging?
You should slug between 1-3x per week, not every day. With its own natural oils (called lipids), our skin needs some water loss as a signal to restore lipids naturally. Slug only on nights when you are not using irritating active ingredients like retinol and vitamin C so that the skin can recover and rejuvenate.
Ingredients to Avoid
Shea Butter can be used to slug, but it is not the best option, as it does not contain petroleum and won’t give the same effect. Instead, find a moisturizer that contains shea butter and use this right before you apply a slug layer.
Coconut oil is OK for the slug method, but a moisturizer must be used first. It will not give the same shiny skin effect that a petroleum-based product will give.
Aloe vera is a less-used option for slugging because it's not thick enough. Since aloe vera has so many benefits, it's better to use earlier in your skin-care routine, underneath your slug layer.
Creams with lactic acid
Lactic Acid should not be used when slugging. This active ingredient is an exfoliant. If intensified by slugging, lactic acid will cause irritation and dryness. Try skin cycling in the evenings: on day one use lactic acid to exfoliate, on day two use a retinol and on days three and four opt for slugging to repair your skin barrier function.
Lanolin can be a good ingredient for slugging because it’s thick and waxy but won't clog your pores. It seals in moisture while skin still feels "breathable". The downside is that lanolin is not vegan - it's extracted from sheep’s wool. It can also be tricky to find cosmetic grade lanolin, which is the only type you want to use on your skin.
Our final slugging advice
Slugging is a great skincare method to use if you have dry or sensitive skin. Always slug on top of gentle moisturizing ingredients. Be careful with actives like retinol, vitamin C, alpha hydroxy acids or beta hydroxy acids . When done correctly, slugging leaves skin deeply hydrated and heals a damaged skin barrier. This is a skincare trend worth adding to your skincare routine. Good luck, sluggers - may you wake up with glass skin!
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Author Bio: Jennifer is the president and founder of empyri. Jennifer’s passion for formulation and product development was set ablaze in 2019, when she incorporated the healing power of cannabis roots into her long-standing three-step skin care system. Armed with scientific evidence on the actives in cannabis roots and seeds, a clean and conscious brand was born. Using her masters degree in bio-chemical engineering, Jennifer is forging a path to ...READ FULL BIO