Slugging skincare: experts share what you need to know about the trend

Published 09th Aug 2022 by PB Admin
Slugging skincare: experts share what you need to know about the trend

People slathering their skin in petroleum jelly, otherwise known as slugging, is seeing a resurgence on social media, with it being the fourth most searched for beauty trend on TikTok.

Used as the final step in a skincare routine, slugging has been hailed by some on social media as a glow-giving miracle – but what effect does it actually have on the skin? In the first installment of our #PBTikTokTruths series, Ellen Cummings spoke to the skincare experts to get their verdict on the slugging trend.

What is slugging?

Slugging is the process of applying an occlusive product — typically overnight — to your skin,” says Claire Williams, founder of Wow Facial.

“Occlusives are oils and waxes that form a physical layer on your skin to help protect it and aid in healing.

“When you apply a thick layer of an occlusive agent like Vaseline or Aquaphor, you’re preventing water loss and dehydration of the skin — which is referred to as trans-epidermal water loss in dermatology.” Williams adds, “The primary benefit of slugging is to improve the skin barrier function and prevent trans-epidermal water loss. By sealing the skin with an ointment, [people] can help prevent and minimise this water loss.

“Locking in this moisture is what keeps your skin hydrated, which makes for a plump and more youthful appearance.”

Advanced facial aesthetics doctor Ahmed El Muntasar explains, “Slugging forms a layer that stops oxygen coming onto the skin, which is actually the main cause of dehydration.”

Slugging’s benefits don’t end there though. “The occlusive barrier that these products create doesn’t just generally help your skin health,” comments Williams.

“Slugging can also work to make your other skincare products more effective. Applying product beneath the occlusive barrier theoretically helps your other skincare products (like serums or creams) penetrate more deeply because they won’t evaporate.”

What are the drawbacks?

This all makes slugging sound like a skincare saviour, but this isn’t the reality for everyone; people who have oily or acne-prone skin may suffer from more breakouts if they try slugging.

Dr Tara Francis, advanced facial aesthetician and founder of Enhance by Dr Tara, explains, “With all this being said, the best candidate for slugging would be those with sensitive and dry skin, not acne-prone or oily skin.

“Why? As well as preventing water loss and sealing the skin’s barrier, slugging can also cause more acne, trap dead skin and increase oil too.

Dr Malvina Cunningham, consultant dermatologist and member of Skin + Me’s expert dermatology team, agrees: “Used for dry skin conditions, [slugging] can be very helpful. However, using an emollient such as Vaseline and applying a thick layer to your skin when you are prone to breakouts can do the opposite and be too occlusive, leading to worsening breakouts.”

Want to know how to reduce post-acne hyperpigmentation and scarring? Check out our top tips.

Acne breakouts aren’t the only possible issue with slugging, with increased milia also being a common complaint.

Williams explains, “When applied to delicate areas, like under the eyes, slugging could cause milia, which are small, painless white bumps that appear when keratin gets trapped beneath the skin’s surface.

“Milia occurs more commonly when people are using a heavy product around the eyelid or the eye area. For that reason, I wouldn’t recommend using the technique on the entire face – only focus instead on treating particularly dry spots.”

Are there any skincare alternatives?

If slugging isn’t for you, don’t worry – there are simple alternatives. In fact “a deep quality moisturiser could do the exact same thing”, says Dr El Muntasar.

Dr Cunningham also recommends substituting slugging with a moisturiser. “Particularly if you have combination skin or skin prone to breakouts I recommend staying away from slugging and using a smart moisturiser instead that is packed with humectants which help hydrate the skin.

“Look out for glycerine, shea butter, hyaluronic acid, ceramides and niacinamide, which are some of the most commonly used but there are many others.”

The verdict

Although slugging might be beneficial for clients suffering from dry and dehydrated skin, people with acne-prone skin should steer clear.

Dr Cunningham says, “As with all trends in skincare, slugging is not personalised and you need to know if it is right for you. For many skin types, slugging is likely not a good idea.”

Read more: what does icing your face do? Check out our guide to the professional take on skin icing here

PB Admin

PB Admin

Published 09th Aug 2022

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