Skin and body “slugging” is not just the latest trend seen on TikTok or Reddit. This practice has been in K-beauty routines for quite some time, though it has gained widespread popularity in the U.S.

What is slugging?

Slugging is an old skin care concept described as the act of layering an occlusive product (like petroleum jelly) over moisturizer. This is done to lock in hydration and maintain your skin’s lipid barrier as an overnight treatment. By creating an occlusive seal, water loss across the epidermis is minimal, and the skin’s lipid barrier has time to repair itself – making it a wonderful way to hydrate the skin. This treatment left overnight or for 2-3 hours will reveal glowing, plump and dewy skin.

What are the benefits?

The main goal of slugging is to keep your skin hydrated.

  • It prevents moisture loss – the thick occlusive surface layer prevents transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Night slugging can help prevent some of the TEWL so your skin remains hydrated.
  • It protects your skin from damaging elements – hot, dry air can draw excess moisture from your skin and lead to dryness. Additionally, chemicals in skin care products and other environmental elements can dry out skin as well. Adding the protective layer of an occlusive product can help protect your skin from these elements so they do not take that much-needed moisture.
  • It restores lipids – skin lipids, your skin’s natural fats, play an important part in skin structure and function. It helps skin retain moisture, keep out bacteria and other harmful invaders, and maintain skin elasticity. The same things that draw moisture out of the skin can also affect the lipids on and in your skin.

Everyone’s skin is different, so it is important to note that slugging is not for every skin type. Those with oily skin or acne-prone skin may want to skip slugging. It is best suited for dry, irritated, inflamed, or sensitive skin.

How to slug:

  • Facial slugging – take a small, pea-sized amount of occlusive product (like petroleum jelly) and apply a thin layer all over your face before bed on cleansed skin. Alternatively, you can apply another ingredient (like anti-aging cream) to layer this below the petroleum jelly. Caution here that you are not creating an overdose environment in delivering too much of product to your skin where it’s not safe.
  • Body slugging – apply a thin layer of occlusive product all over, which can be messy, and wrap the treatment areas in close-fitting, cotton clothing to seal in the moisture. This is great treatment for extremely dry skin, hand eczema, keratoderma, dry heels, elbows, and knees.
  • Hair slugging – enhance shine and hydration by applying rich oils like pure castor, coconut, olive and argan oils, which are a few well-known oils for hair. Follow this with petroleum jelly to lock in moisture. The key is choosing the right product and amount of product for your hair type and applying evenly. Focus application on mid-lengths and ends and secure your hair in a bun and cap to rinse out the next day. Note: not for all hair types – thin hair may have a tough time washing it out.

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