Slugging Is The Sticky Skincare Hack People Are Obsessed With
The beauty and skincare community has an affinity for inventing, nicknaming, and going all-in on funky trends. You’ve probably heard about strobing, glass skin, and baking, but how familiar are you with slugging? No, we’re not talking about applying snail secretions to your face (also totally a thing), but rather the act of smearing Vaseline all over your face and body with the goal of hydrating, healing, and preventing wrinkles. In other words: morphing into a human version of a slimy slug.
It sounds gross, but Vaseline – aka petroleum jelly – has been a household skincare hero for decades. In fact, we’d bet that if you asked your grandmother about using either straight Vaseline (or a moisturizer that contains it, such as Crème de la Mer, $325 or Rosebud Salve, $7) she’d swear by its miracle properties. Eager to learn more about using Vaseline and slugging, we reached out to a top dermatologist who gave us the DL on what Vaseline is and whether or not it’s good for your face – especially if you have acne, eczema, or really dry skin.
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Okay, so what is Vaseline, and how is it made?
“Also called petrolatum or petroleum jelly, Vaseline is a soft mixture of natural waxes and mineral oils called hydrocarbons. It’s obtained by purifying petroleum to modify the color and remove odors and contaminants,” says Dr. David Lortscher, a board-certified dermatologist and the CEO and founder of Curology.
The petroleum jelly inception story is a wild one. It was discovered by oil rig workers in the mid-1800s who noticed some greasy stuff gunking up their rigs. The workers noticed that when they applied the unpurified petroleum jelly to their skin, it miraculously helped moisturize, soften, and heal.
Long story short, a chemist named Robert Chesebrough seized the opportunity to make some serious bread on this newfangled “wonder jelly” and developed a triple-purified version that’d later become Vaseline.
Is Slugging with Vaseline Good For Your Skin?
@edwardzo TikTok made me try it: Slugging (w/ @cetaphilusa’s new healing ointment) #skincare101 #skintok #slugging #skinbarrier #cetaphil #cetaphilpartner ♬ original sound – EdwardZO
Using Vaseline as a moisturizer is all over social now, and it’s not just an old-timey beauty hack that people like Grace Kelly or Marilyn Monroe swore by. Vaseline persists as a modern-day skincare hack, a la slugging.
One Reddit user from r/AsianBeauty writes, “It works. It works so well…There was an immediate difference from the first morning! I woke up with much softer and bouncier skin, and it helped my skin recover faster from irritation/redness.” Another person from r/SkincareAddiction states, “I did this for the first time last night and I’m already loving what it does for my skin! Yesterday my skin was dehydrated, really oily, tight, flaking, peeling all over… Today? Plump, much happier-looking and feeling skin, with just a bit of flaking left. I’m totally gonna slug it up again tonight!”
TikTokers are also big fans of the miracle results of slugging.
The slug life is real, you guys. But beyond the first-person stories exclaiming magically bouncy skin, the FDA has given Vaseline the all-clear as a moisturizer, as well.
Dr. Lortscher tells us, “The United States FDA approves of the use of petrolatum as an over-the-counter skin protectant that can seal in moisture to help dry skin. It’s also useful in healing superficial scrapes and wounds as well as irritated skin.”
He agrees that using Vaseline on your face as a moisturizer can give you crazy soft skin and notable hydration. But before you go covering your face in the gooey stuff, there are some important rules worth following.
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- Use at the end of a hydrating skincare routine. Start with cleansed skin, use a moisturizer, then slug with your product of choice.
- Layer on top of a facial oil (like WISHFUL Get Even Rose Oil)
- Use two to four times a week
- Avoid using it with retinol, benzoyl peroxide, or AHAs and BHAs – because it makes your skincare products work harder. If you apply it on top of these potent formulas, it could make these formulas more irritating for your skin.
How to Slug with Vaseline & Other Occlusive Products
If you’re ready to try out slugging yourself, it’s pretty straightforward. On cleansed skin, layer on all your favorite skincare products first (or just a moisturizer is fine), and then use Vaseline as the final step in your regimen. but you don’t have to use Vaseline, there are tons of other options available.
Good old Vaseline Healing Jelly, $4, is great place to start since it’s inexpensive and triple purified. However, if straight-up petroleum jelly is a bit too heavy for your skin, opt for dermatologist-beloved Aquaphor products or another TikTok slugging fave, CeraVe Healing Ointment, $14.
We’re also pretty obsessed with using our new WISHFUL Pillowgasm Cherry Glow Sleeping Mask, $39, which is like a lighter alternative to slugging with thick petroleum jelly but with wayyy more benefits thanks to lots of juicy ingredients.
The non-greasy and non-comedogenic formula (it won’t block your pores) is infused with carrot extract to revitalize skin, brightening cherry extract, plus hemp seed oil and adenosine help to repair the skin’s barrier. It’s the perfect place to start if you’re nervous about starting your slugging journey. Read more about Pillowgasm Cherry Glow Sleeping Mask here.
Which Skin Types Should – and Shouldn’t – Use Vaseline on their Face?
As with any sort of skincare product, Vaseline and the technique of slugging, is not a one-size fits all deal.
“Because it’s an occlusive product – [which means that it creates a seal over the skin to retain moisture] – pure petrolatum is heavy and can feel greasy on oily and acne-prone skin. That said, it has not been shown to clog pores, so it’s generally fine to use,” says Dr. Lortscher. In other words, it may not feel the best on your skin, but it won’t directly lead to breakouts since it’s non-comedogenic. He adds, “In rare cases, petrolatum may trigger an allergic reaction in some people, [so a spot test is recommended.]”
People that do benefit from using Vaseline or other slugging products on their face as a moisturizer are those with normal skin, dry skin, irritated or inflamed skin, small wounds, and those dealing with eczema.
“The protective properties [of petroleum jelly] help soothe the skin, especially dry patches and other areas recovering from irritation,” says Dr. Lortscher. “Vaseline can also serve as a great body moisturizer to manage eczema-prone skin. The heavier consistency provides a hydrating barrier for dry, irritated skin. Additionally, Vaseline can be a great option for wound care, as long as you’re not allergic to petrolatum. Research shows it helps the healing process and reduces the chances of scabbing and scarring.”
Got more questions, let us know in the comments below. Happy slugging!
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