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What is slugging skincare?

General Skincare

What is slugging skincare?

No, you DON’T put a slug on your face. The skincare trend of “slugging” involves applying an occlusive, such as petrolatum (also known as petroleum jelly), to the skin after moisturizing in the evening. The term “slugging” is widely associated with Korean (K-beauty) skincare trends, yet its practice can be dated back for many years and has its origins in the Black community. Slugging receives its moniker from the glossy appearance it leaves on the skin, similar to that of a slug. The practice is done in order to achieve dewy, fresh, and youthful-looking skin that appears replenished and hydrated.


Facts About Slugging in Skincare

Slugging is a popular moisturizing technique that involves applying an occlusive product at the end of one’s evening skincare routine.

This skincare trend, known as Slugging, gets its name from the glossy, moist sheen it leaves on the skin after using a product specifically designed for this purpose.

Utilizing occlusives for slugging serves the purpose of trapping in moisture and preventing transepidermal water loss, thus creating a physical seal over the skin. The end result is fresher-looking skin that appears plump and hydrated.

Slugging is recommended for people with dry skin. However, but it is not for everyone, it may not be suitable for those with acne-prone skin or a propensity for blemishes. If you have any questions about if slugging is an appropriate regimen for your skin type, we suggest consulting a board-certified dermatologist.


How Does Slugging Work in Skincare?

Occlusives, such as petrolatum, are composed of oils and waxes. These products work by forming a barrier on the skin surface to trap moisture and prevent transepidermal water loss. Research indicates that products formulated with petrolatum are the most effective occlusives in terms of reduced water loss through the epidermis, achieving an efficiency rate of close to 99%.

Slugging with occlusives can help to create an effective barrier on the skin, which seals off the skin and helps to stimulate repair and replenishment of the skin’s natural moisture barrier. This helps to keep the skin hydrated during sleep, preventing the evaporation of moisture from the skin. The concept behind slugging is to use an occlusive, or face mask, before bedtime in order to maximize the effects of any applied skincare products. By locking in both moisture and beneficial elements, the skin may experience greater potency from these products.


What are the benefits?

The primary objective of slugging is to ensure effective hydration of the skin.

After a restful night’s sleep, you may find yourself waking with refreshed and hydrated skin that feels plump and dewy.

In addition to providing aesthetic appeal, there are many skin-related benefits associated with slugging that make it a valuable beauty hack.

1. It prevents moisture loss

Occlusives are topically applied to the skin surface in order to help protect against transepidermal water loss (TEWL). TEWL is a natural and inevitable process that increases with age, however occlusives can help to reduce the rate of water evaporation from the skin. As people age, their skin tends to become dryer and their skin barrier functions may not be as effective.

Engaging in a night of moisturizing can help to reduce transepidermal water loss (TEWL), thereby maintaining skin hydration and promoting a healthy complexion.

2. It protects your skin from damaging elements

The dry air this produces can remove necessary moisture from the skin and lead to dryness. Additionally, exposure to chemical-based skin care products and environmental factors can cause further dehydration of the skin.

By applying an occlusive of your choice, you can form a protective layer on the skin that will help retain moisture and shield it from external elements.

3. It restores lipids

The natural fats found in the skin, known as skin lipids, are essential for the optimal functioning and structure of the skin. They help to retain moisture, defend against bacteria and other harmful agents, and ensure skin elasticity.

Certain elements that draw moisture away from the skin may also have an impact on the lipids located both on and within your skin.

A 2015 study indicates that the use of moisturizers with occlusives such as petrolatum may help restore lipids and repair the skin barrier.


What skin types should avoid slugging?

Slugging can be a beneficial skincare trend for many skin types, especially during the winter when dryness is common. Even individuals with oily or acne-prone skin may be able to benefit if also experiencing dryness. However, if you are prone to breakouts, it may be best to avoid this trend. Individuals with active acne breakouts or blackheads should consider avoiding this technique and opt for methods specifically designed to target these issues, such as those that contain salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and topical retinoids.


Can slugging clog pores?

Slugging can be an intimidating routine for those with oily skin due to the thick ointments often used. However, petrolatum-based ointments are non-comedogenic and therefore will not clog pores. It is essential to ensure that the appropriate type of product is being incorporated into the slugging regimen. The potential for skin irritation and blemishes increases when an oil-based serum or other comedogenic product is applied before the occlusive petrolatum layer. It is important to be aware of these limitations when considering one’s skincare routine.

When applying products containing active ingredients, it is important to use an occlusive layer to lock in the product. This process, known as slugging, should be approached with caution when combining an occlusive layer with active ingredients such as retinoids as this can result in irritation. It is essential to perform slugging as the final step of one’s routine; if any part of the regimen is forgotten, the only option would be to either skip it or completely start over by removing the occlusive layer which is clearly not desired.

Slugging can provide temporary relief from skin dryness and other forms of damage but is generally not recommended as a long-term solution. If you require more consistent results for an extended period of time, consider other therapeutic options that may be better suited to the underlying cause of your condition.


When Should I Use Face Slugging?

One of the key advantages of using slugging skincare is its simplicity and ease of integrating it into an existing skincare routine. In order to utilize the face slugging product, simply apply it at the end of your nightly skincare routine after carrying out all steps, such as cleansing, toning, eye cream application, serum application, and moisturizing.

It is recommended to use products with gentle and hydrating ingredients, like hyaluronic acid or ceramides, prior to the application of your “slug”. It is recommended to avoid using formulas with active ingredients prior to going to bed, as this can cause irritation or create unwanted side effects due to these actives being sealed in overnight. This formulation contains active ingredients, such as retinol, beta-hydroxy acids (e.g., salicylic acid), and alpha-hydroxy acids (e.g., lactic acid and glycolic acid).


How Often Should I Use This Method?

Slugging can be beneficial when performed at night, as it allows the product to soothe and nourish the skin uninterrupted. The frequency of use should be tailored to your individual skin type and complexion needs. For many skin types, it is not necessary or recommended to completely seal the skin barrier every night. It may be beneficial to alternate between slugging days and days that do not involve the use of this technique.

In certain cases, it may be beneficial to apply a moisturizer each day for a specific length of time, such as during dry, cold winter months when the skin is more vulnerable to moisture loss. It is important to recognize your skin type in order to benefit from the slugging skincare technique. If you have uncertainty, please seek out advice from a board-certified dermatologist.

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