3 Signs Slugging isn't For You: What to Do Instead
Slugging. It’s the skincare technique you’ve been hearing all about on TikTok, Instagram, and beauty blogs. And don’t worry — it doesn’t involve actual slugs.
Credited as a K-beauty trend, slugging involves slathering your skin in an occlusive like Vaseline or another petrolatum product as the last step of your pm skincare routine. It’s said to deeply moisturize skin by preventing transepidermal water loss. Essentially, slugging creates a film over your skin so that your complexion appears smooth, hydrated, and dewy while keeping the skin barrier protected.
For all its benefits, you’d think everyone would be falling asleep with their faces plastered in petroleum jelly. But slugging isn’t for everyone. Just because it’s a skincare trend doesn’t mean you have to like it — or even try it. Even dermatologists say slugging only benefits some skin types.
Whether you’ve tried the slugging trend already or you’re considering trying it, here are some signs slugging isn’t for you — and what to do instead.
SLUGGING ISN’T FOR YOU IF...
- You’ve Got Oily or Acne-Prone Skin
While slugging can be beneficial for dry skin and even those with skin conditions like eczema, the derms advise against it if you have oily or acne-prone skin.
“Those who have oily skin or are prone to breakouts may find that petrolatum is too occlusive and can worsen acne conditions,” says Dr. Debra Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “I would recommend sealing your skin with a non-comedogenic hydrating cream containing ceramides and hyaluronic acid instead.”
When you’re already naturally oily and prone to blemishes, applying heavy-duty occlusive products like Vaseline can make your situation a whole lot worse.
- Your Moisturizer’s Already Doing a Good Job
The two main benefits of slugging include providing intense hydration and strengthening a compromised skin barrier. This Korean skincare hack is most effective for those with chronically dry skin, sensitive skin, or a weakened skin barrier.
However, if your current moisturizer is already doing a pretty good job at keeping you smooth and soft, you don’t need slugging to save your skin. It sounds like you’ve already got a good thing going on.
If you’re experiencing severe dryness and no skincare product seems to help, it’s definitely worth trying the slugging technique. But if things are pretty good as they are, you really don’t need to change anything.
- It Leaves You Feeling Ick
Slugging is a messy process. And remember all that thick jelly is bound to end up on your pillowcase as you toss and turn during the night. For a lot of people, slugging just doesn’t feel comfortable. In fact, it leaves them feeling sticky, icky, and greasy.
It’s important to feel comfortable with what’s on your skin. If slugging feels somehow strange and sticky to you, there’s no reason why you need to endure it. There are plenty of other products out there that offer similar results without the messiness. You certainly don’t need to suffer.
THE BEST ALTERNATIVES TO SLUGGING
Just realized slugging isn’t for you? No worries! You have many other options if you feel like you and slugging aren’t going to get along. Here are some of the best slugging alternatives to keep your skin hydrated, smooth, and glowing.
Squalene and ceramides are the two most common lipids you’ll find in cleansers, creams, and lotions. Unlike occlusives that simply sit atop the skin to keep water sealed in, lipids replenish the skin barrier as well as increase skin hydration.
“Ceramides are found in high concentrations within cell membranes,” New York City-based dermatologist Ellen Marmur, M.D. says. “They hold skin cells together on the top layer of the skin, forming a protective layer that plumps the skin and retains moisture.”
Emollients smooth and soften the skin. Like occlusives, they stay on the skin’s surface and hold onto humectants for intense hydration. While they’re the most similar to occlusives, the key difference is that they’re much less heavy and clogging on the skin.
The most common emollients include Vitamin E, shea butter, jojoba oil, and rosehip oil. You’ll find three of these emollients in Rainbow’s Hydrate Moisturizing Body Butter. This rich and luxurious lotion restores, hydrates, and strengthens the skin barrier, tackling dryness and discoloration.
The best products for dry skin contain humectants. Humectants draw water from the dermis up to the epidermis while retaining moisture for a smooth and hydrated complexion.
Hyaluronic acid and glycerin are the most well-known humectants, but chemical exfoliants like lactic and glycolic acid interestingly also work as humectants.
You’ll find all of these active ingredients except lactic acid in Rainbow’s Hydrate Serum + Mask Bundle. This duo is designed to visibly plump, regenerate damaged skin cells, and hydrate for an ultra dewy complexion.
WHAT’S THE RIGHT ORDER TO APPLY
As a rule of thumb, it’s best to apply products from thinnest to thickest in order for them to fully penetrate the skin.
Start with lipids and humectants, which are the lightest of the bunch, then finish with an emollient to lock everything in. Ideally, you want your lipids and humectants to be in serum form and your emollients to be in cream form. This way, everything has chance to absorb properly into the skin.
Sunscreen should be applied as the last step of your routine if you’re doing it in the daytime. Applying sunscreen offers anti-aging benefits by protecting your skin from UV rays. Just remember to leave out the retinol if you’re going out, as sun exposure weakens the effects of retinoids, deeming them ineffective.
Slugging might be the biggest skincare craze right now, but you absolutely don’t need to feel pressured into trying it — or liking it. As the dermatology professionals put it, slugging isn’t for everyone. It can be great for those with dry skin or compromised skin barriers, but those who are oily or acne-prone are advised to steer clear.
Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives to slugging so that you can get most of the same benefits without the ick — and possible breakouts.