Trending Skincare: What Is Skin Slugging?

Skin Care, How To

Trending Skincare: What Is Skin Slugging?

by Neutrogena
May 22, 2023

Skincare trends come and go through the years and one that's getting a lot of attention right now is skin slugging. While skin slugging is currently having a moment on social media, the K-beauty trend is actually far from a new concept, says Dr. Suzanne Friedler, dermatologist at Advanced Dermatology, PC.

The internet is raving about it — does that mean you should try it? What is skin slugging? Here's the breakdown.

What Is Skin Slugging?

Slugging means to apply an occlusive agent (like petroleum jelly or baby oil) over your other skincare products, sealing them in, says Dr. Friedler. And, you guessed it, it's called slugging because when you apply the occlusive agent to your skin, the glistening residue mimics that of a slug's trail.

There are two main benefits to skin slugging. First, it hydrates your skin. Slugging helps repair the stratum corneum (also known as the outer layers of the skin barrier) to help hold in moisture. Second, it can also help make your active ingredients more effective because that occlusive layer holds those ingredients against your skin and encourages them to penetrate deeper.

Is Slugging Good or Bad For Your Skin?

Like with any skincare method, there are pros and cons to skin slugging, and it isn't for everyone.

First, the pros: Since slugging helps bring moisture into the skin, Dr. Frielder recommends it for those with dry and normal skin types, especially during the colder months.

The one big con? Slugging too often or on acne-prone skin can lead to blemishes or other skin issues like infections such as folliculitis, explains Friedler. "The skin won't breathe as well when you cover it with an occlusive agent," she explains. "If you're going to skin slug, you need to do it on clean, blemish-free skin. If there are any impurities [like bacteria or dirt] in your skin, that will get be pushed deeper into your skin."

Friedler also warns against slugging for those with oily skin, because the heaviness of those occlusive products can leave the skin overly saturated.

How Do You Slug Your Skin?

As with any skincare regimen, start with fresh, clean skin. Wipe away all your makeup, dirt, and oil from the day with a wipe such as the Neutrogena® Compostable Makeup Remover Cleansing Wipes, and follow up with the Neutrogena® Gentle Hydrating Cleanser to ensure you're working with a clean slate.

Because slugging can help boost the effectiveness of other products, take advantage of potent serums such as the Neutrogena® Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Serum. Dr. Friedler suggests using a serum with an active ingredient like hyaluronic acid or vitamin C. "If you put on some kind of an active ingredient that can be irritating, you're going to get a higher potency from whatever product you put on underneath [your occlusive product]," she explains. "So, that could be less ideal if you're using an active medication." Follow up your actives with a lightweight moisturizer so your slugging product doesn't weigh you down.

Then, it's time for the main event. Slather on your slugging product, such as petroleum jelly or even a very thick face cream. If it feels uncomfortable at first, Dr. Friedler says not to worry: "When you're slugging, you're really driving in that moisture by using something very heavy."

If slugging isn't your thing but you still want to reap the benefits of this trend, the Neutrogena® Hydro Boost Water Gel Face Moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid for Dry Skin is a great option thanks to the hyaluronic acid that hydrates and plumps up skin. Just apply the moisturizer before bed and let it work its magic.

How Often Should You Slug Your Skin?

There's no hard rule on how often to skin slug. It depends on your skin type: If your skin isn't overly dry or oily, you might only slug once or twice a month; on the other hand, people with dry skin might slug a few days in a row until the skin feels moisturized, and those with oily skin may only slug occasionally.

To start, try slugging once a week and see how your skin responds. If you find yourself slugging regularly and breaking out, consider reducing the number of times you slug. Finding the right groove is all a matter of listening to your skin.

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