Hair Slugging Isn't New, But Here's What You Need To Know!



We’d be *utterly* shocked if you still hadn’t heard about slugging, the snail-inspired skincare hack where you slather a layer of thick, occlusive moisturizer over your face before bed so you wake up to gloriously plump, hydrated, and glowing skin.

However, hair slugging is a whole different thing, and this DIY hair treatment – that has actually been around for centuries – is enjoying ample attention RN largely due to TikTok. We reached out to some pro hair stylists who were happy to explain what “hair slugging” actually is, all about its cultural origins, and how to slug your very own strands.

The History of “Hair Slugging”

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Though the term “hair slugging” might be brand new to you, the treatment has been around for ages. “Hair slugging is actually a common practice in African, African American, and Indian cultures for many centuries,” explains hairstylist Philesha Stern, a natural hair specialist and founder of Boujee Curls in Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.

“Similar practices stretch all the way back to the ancient African women from Chad, who used ‘Chebe powder’ as a deep moisture treatment.” The hair slugging technique has also been widely used in Asian cultures and the Caribbean.

What is Hair Slugging?

At the end of the day, hair slugging is a deeply hydrating hair treatment (like a pre-poo) where you coat your strands with a lightweight oil – ideally the evening before wash day – and then wrap your mane snuggly so it hydrates while you sleep. Stern was kind enough to give us the full hair slugging how-to.

“On damp to dry hair, apply a small amount of oil into the palms of your hands and gently scrunch and smooth oil onto tresses until they are evenly coated,” she says. “Using a soft blend sock, place the freshly oiled hair inside making sure the ends are properly tucked. Finally, place a satin or silk hair tie around the base of the sock to secure the sock while you sleep.”

One important caveat is that you shouldn’t wrap your hair too tightly, adds hairstylist Nubia Rëzo, founder of Rëzo Haircare. She says, “This will cause tension in the hair and can cause damage or breakage to the front.”

If the idea of hair slugging while you sleep doesn’t appeal (we hear you, finicky sleepers), Stern has an effective alternative. Start by saturating your strands with a deep conditioner, then apply a light coat of oil on top. Next, apply a shower cap over your hair and get your slug on for 15 to 45 minutes before hopping in the shower to shampoo, condition, and style per usual.

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Rëzo adds that whatever method you choose, focus on the ends since this is the oldest – and likely most damaged – part of your mane. She says, “Getting too close to the root can lead to product buildup later.” It can also potentially weigh your hair down or lead to an oil imbalance at the scalp.

How Often Should You Hair Slug?

Hair slugging really loads your strands up with hydration and is considered more of an “every once in a while” treatment versus a daily practice. You can slug anytime feel like your tresses need a Super Big Gulp dose of hydration. Maybe that’s after an intense bleaching session or after a weekend spent in the sun and salty water. Or it could be a bi-weekly or once-monthly TLC treatment for healthy hair maintenance.

Even though hair slugging is super buzzy right now, note that it’s not necessarily a win for everyone. Generally speaking, thicker and more porous hair textures will likely respond better to hair slugging. People with fine hair may find that it’s too much moisture and ends up weighing their mane down.

The Best Products For Hair Slugging

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If you’re keen on trying this pre-shampoo techique, you can use the most loved, classic oil that has literally been used for centuries, aka good old coconut oil; we recommend a cold-pressed, unrefined coconut oil like this one. The stylists we spoke to also love these goodies:

Deep Conditioners:

1. Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair!™ Deep Conditioning Hair Mask, $38

2. Coco & Eve Like A Virgin Super Nourishing Coconut & Fig Hair Masque, $40

3. Qhemet Biologics Olive & Honey Hydrating Balm, $16


1. PATTERN by Tracee Ellis Ross Argan Oil Blend, $25

2. OUAI Hair Oil, $28

3. BREAD BEAUTY SUPPLY Hair Oil Everyday Gloss, $24

4. OLAPLEX No.7 Bonding Oil, $28

Hair Caps:

1. KITSCH Satin Sleep Cap in Blush, $14

2. ALEXANDER PRODUCTS Satin Lined Sleep Cap Adjustable Bonnet Slouchy Beanie Natural Curly Hair Women, $15

3. PATTERN by Tracee Ellis Ross Satin Cap, $22

4. The Vintage Cosmetic Company Cherry Print Shower Cap, $9

You’re clearly a hair person, boo! Check out this genius TikTok hair hack that costs practically nothing. We’re obsessed!

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