If you’ve been scrolling on TikTok lately, you’ve probably come across a video or two of people raving about a new skincare trend called slugging. But what is it, exactly? And is it really that beneficial for your complexion?
We break down everything you should know, from how it originated and skin types it’s suitable for, to how to go about slugging sustainably.
What Is Slugging?
The slugging skincare technique involves applying a petroleum-based product, like Vaseline and Aquaphor, overnight to help hydrate your skin. While it’s only taken off online this year, it’s been around in K-Beauty for quite some time. By no surprise, it originally got its name for leaving skin shiny and slimy like a slug.
While it seems like smearing something as thick as Vaseline all over your face would do more harm than good, experts say adding that occlusive barrier is great if you’re suffering from dry or wind-chapped skin. Because it’s reparative, a thin layer is also said to help those dealing with eczema and psoriasis.
The only issue? While it can benefit your skin, it might not be so great for the planet.
Does Slugging Harm the Planet?
Slugging might be a derm-approved way to hydrate dry skin. Unfortunately, petroleum jelly—the key ingredient in products like Vaseline and Aquaphor—has a bad rap in the sustainability world.
As its name suggests, petroleum jelly is produced from crude oil, a non-renewable resource. It’s a byproduct of crude oil waste and has been being used for more than 150 years. Originally, oil rig workers saw the substance building up at the bottom of empty oil barrels and on machinery. They began putting it on cuts and bruises, and the rest was history.
There are mixed opinions about how sustainable petroleum jelly is. Some are totally against it, as it’s produced from crude oil. Others say it’s fine, as it’s a byproduct of the industry and would otherwise go to waste.
If you want to give slugging a try with a more natural option that’s not made from petroleum, you’re in luck: There are a couple of options that will give you the same effect.
How to Go About Slugging Sustainably
If you want to give slugging a try with products that are more planet-friendly, start with these picks.
Waxelene is known as a more sustainable alternative to Vaseline, as it doesn’t contain petroleum derivatives. Instead, it’s organic, biodegradable, and is free of parabens and artificial ingredients. The packaging is more eco-friendly, too: It uses 100% recyclable packaging, and there’s an option to buy a reusable glass jar.
Another popular alternative to products like Vaseline is Alba Botanica’s Un-Petroleum Multi-Purpose Jelly. It moisturizes with botanical ingredients and is free of parabens, phthalates, and synthetic fragrances.
Before going about slugging, ask your derm (or do some research) to see whether it’s a good option for your skin type. While it’s touted as a great option for people with dry skin, those with acne-prone skin may want to steer clear.
Also, make sure the product you’re using on your skin is “non-comedogenic,” which means it was formulated to not clog pores. Both Waxelene and Alba Botanica’s products, shown above, are non-comedogenic.
Ready to get your slug on? Here’s how to go about it, step by step.
1. Clean Your Skin at Night
Before bed, start by washing your face with your cleanser of choice. Slugging locks in anything on your face, so you don’t want there to be any traces of makeup, dirt, or grime.
2. Apply a Moisturizer
Next, apply a moisturizer. You need to slather on something hydrating before locking it in with the occlusive.
3. Apply the Occlusive
Ready for the slugging portion? Rub your occlusive of choice in your hands to warm it up, then gently apply it to your face, pressing it into your skin. You don’t need a thick layer—just enough to coat your skin.
4. Wash It Off in the Morning
When you wake up in the morning, wash your face like you normally would to remove any leftover “slugging” materials. Then, apply your moisturizer and sunscreen before you go about your day.
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