Slugging is the hot beauty trend thanks to the Japanese, K Beauty world and Black communities. Don’t worry, this addition to your skin care routine does not actually use 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!
What is slugging?
Slugging involves coating your skin with a heavy occlusive moisturizer as the final step of your skincare routine. This seals moisture in and creates a thick layer of protection against the environment, water loss and dryness. Ingredients layered underneath are also protected and deliver better results. Beauty enthusiasts love the shiny, slick look and feel that it gives the skin.
Slugging is always the last step in a nighttime skin care routine. A hydrating product must be layered underneath in order for this technique to be effective.
Types of skincare products that are be used:
So what should you use to slug? There are many options with different benefits. 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. Here are some suggestions and our recommendations:
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 protective barrier to treat dry skin, especially in areas like the nose, lips, elbows and ankles. But, slugging pairs Vaseline with other products, making everything work even better!
Aquaphor 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. For those who are allergic to lanolin, CeraVe Healing Ointment is a terrific option with similar ingredients. It's our choice for slugging skin care.
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 visual or overall effect. Instead, find a moisturizer that contains shea butter and use this right before you apply a slug layer.
Yes! 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. It's not as thick as a petroleum-based product. Since aloe vera has so many benefits, it's better to use earlier in your skin-care routine, underneath your slug layer.
This is an absolute yes. 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. In the past, there was conflicting information about the safety of Vaseline. However, it is safe, hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic.
All other skincare products in your routine must be applied before slugging. Hyaluronic acid alone isn’t a heavy enough product to slug and doesn't contain any traditional slugging ingredients. Instead, apply a serum that contains hyaluronic acid on moist skin after you cleanse, so that it can hydrate and plump your skin.
Creams with lactic acid
Lactic Acid should not be used when slugging. It is too active of an ingredient and can cause damage to the skin. Use this exfoliant on the days that you are not slugging. This will help the skin recover from exfoliation and bring out your glow!
Lanolin is a good product to use for slugging because it’s thick and waxy but won't clog your pores. It effectively seals in moisture and skin still feels "breathable". You only need to use a small amount to form a thin layer over top of your other moisturizers.
Lanolin is commonly used by breastfeeding women to soothe chapped nipples. It is extracted from sheep’s wool, so do not use it if you have a wool allergy or choose only vegan products. It is also recommended to buy cosmetic grade lanolin for use in a skin care routine.
Our recommended product
At empyri, we stand with the true sluggers of the K beauty and Black communities and recommend a petroleum jelly based product to slug with. But with a BIG qualification.
Petroleum jelly aka petrolatum is on David Suzuki's Dirty Dozen list of dangerous cosmetic ingredients. Petroleum-based ingredients can be contaminated with PHA's which are potentially carcinogenic. For this reason, the European Union advises that petrolatum products need to be transparent about their refining process to ensure safety.
So our recommendation is to only use trusted name brand petroleum jelly products like Vaseline (EWG 1) or CeraVe Healing Ointment (EWG 2). The Environmental Working Group has evaluated these products for human and environmental safety.
This is the best way to seal moisture in and achieve a shiny, glazed look to the skin. It’s hypoallergenic, which means it won’t irritate sensitive skin. It’s non-comedogenic, which means it won’t clog your pores. These products will sit on top of the skin to seal in moisture and repair the skin barrier.
Slugging is a great final step in your empyri ritual. It enhances the benefits of the hydrating ingredients like hemp seed oil, hydrolyzed cannabis sativa (hemp) seed extract and hyaluronic acid. You'll notice immediately! Slug on top of any one of empyri's hemp moisturizers. We recommend patch testing the method on your inner upper arm before trying on your whole face.
Lastly, do not slug on top of empyri's Hydrating Hemp Toner + Vitamin C. The vitamin C is very active and slugging will intensify this which may cause irritation.
Does it work?
Slugging absolutely works! Depending on your skin type of course! Even board-certified dermatologists see the benefits of slugging, especially for sensitive skin issues 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 skin 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. If you enjoy sports in the winter months, you can slug before going outdoors to further protect any exposed skin.
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 skin 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. A small amount will give you a glazed, slugged look to your skin and save your pillowcases!
So who should avoid slugging?
Those with acne beware
Slugging is too heavy for anyone who has acne prone skin. It can trap dead skin cells and bacteria in the skin, causing black heads and breakouts. Slugging may also cause more irritation if the products layered underneath are too active, especially if you have open acne sores.
Do not slug over top of prescription acne treatments, 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.
Slugging is also beneficial as a seasonal skincare practice. If you suffer from extra dry skin in the winter, slug while you hibernate from the cold - then maybe skip it in the summer if your complexion is back to balance.
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 Hyaluronic Acid serm 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. You can also combine these steps by using a a moisturizer containing Hyaluronic Acid (our favourite humectant!).
Slug away! Using a pea-sized amount of Petroleum, 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?
Slugging is best done two to three times a week, but not every day. Since our skin has its own natural oils (called lipids), it needs some water loss as a signal to restore lipids naturally. Some skincare products, such as retinol and Vitamin C, are too active to apply under a slug. Instead, slug on the days when you are not using irritating active ingredients so that the skin can recover and rejuvenate. It’ll highlight the work that your retinol and Vitamin C do for you.
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 and vitamin C. When done correctly, slugging leaves skin deeply hydrated and heals a damaged skin barrier. And the best news? It’s an easy and effective addition to your empyri ritual. For slug life, we’ll be using Vaseline or CeraVe Healing Ointment. No matter what, it’s petroleum jelly or bust! Good luck, sluggers!
You Are Loved.