Smiling person with long dark hair spreads ointment across face 1
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While you might have first come across the term “slugging” on Reddit or TikTok, skin slugging isn’t just the trend du jour. This practice has been featured in K-beauty routines for quite some time.

For the slugging curious who aren’t yet fully in the know about this moisturizing trick, slugging doesn’t actually involve slugs. But it does involve making like a slug, in a way — you slime your face with an occlusive, like petroleum jelly, before bed in order to wake up with glowing skin. Occlusives are things that act as barriers on your skin to hold in moisture.

Does it work? We reached out to Jessie Cheung, MD, board certified dermatologist and founder of Cheung Aesthetics & Wellness, to find out.

Skin slugging is the application of an ombive to act as a barrier to seal the skin. The last step in your skin care routine to treat dry skin is skin slugging, as we know that it helps prevent water loss, says Cheung.

Do you want to try out slugging? Along with other tips and tricks, read on to find out what to use and how to do it.

The main goal of the game? Helping keep your skin hydrated.

You may wake up with glowing, plump, and dewy skin after a night of sleep.

The skin-deep benefits that make a beauty hack worth trying are here.

It prevents moisture loss

There are occiclusives on the surface of your skin. Tew is the process of water being lost from your skin. The expected bodily function increases with age. Your skin barrier function may be less effective as you get older.

A night of drinking can help prevent some of the dehydration that can occur.

It protects your skin from damaging elements

Do you like to warm up when you sleep? The hot, dry air can cause your skin to be dry. Environmental elements can dry out skin.

“Adding an ombrative of your choice can help protect your skin from the elements so it doesn’t get too dry.”

It restores lipids

Skin lipids are the natural fats of your skin. They help keep your skin moist, fight harmful invaders and keep your skin elastic.

The same things that draw water out of the skin can also affect the lipids on your skin.

Research from 2015 suggests, however, that applying moisturizers containing occlusives like petrolatum can restore lipids and repair the skin barrier.

It is not a good option for everyone. You can depend on your skin type.

Cheung recommends avoiding skin slugging if you’re prone to clogged pores or acne.

If you apply potentially irritating actives underneath your mouth, be aware that you will enhance their penetration. Cheung says to be careful with retinoids, alpha hydroxy acids, and BHAs.

FYI: AHAs and BHAs are hydroxy acids that exfoliate the skin at varying degrees, depending on their concentration. Retinoids are compounds derived from vitamin A that can help treat acne and other skin concerns.

The key to slugging is to use an ombive that creates a barrier over the skin to keep the water out. Products containing ceramides work best.

A few picks are worth considering.


Vaseline — petrolatum — is inexpensive and generally accessible. According to 2017 research, it’s also the most effective occlusive: It can reduce TEWL by more than 98 percent.

Aquaphor Healing Ointment

Aquaphor, another all-purpose ointment sluggers swear by, is 41 percent petrolatum. It also contains mineral oil and lanolin, both of which reduce TEWL by 20 to 30 percent.

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

CeraVe Moisturizing Cream contains petrolatum, along with three ceramides and hyaluronic acid.

Ceramides are lipids found in the skin. Research from 2018 suggests ceramide cream can increase skin hydration and decrease TEWL. Though ceramides aren’t occlusives, they work similarly when it comes to locking in moisture.

Hyaluronic acid can help keep your skin hydrated.

You can try different ways of hitting.

“You can either go all in and hit for a long time or try short-contact slugging, which requires just a few hours of hitting. If you can’t stomach the feeling of sleeping sticky, the latter is a good way to try it.”

Here is how to speak in both ways.

How to slug overnight

If you are worried about the mess, you might want to swap out your good linens for some backups.

Slugging overnight

  1. Follow your typical skin care routineminus face oils, spot treatments, or actives like retinoids, AHAs, and BHAs.
  2. While your skin is still damp from other products, apply a small amount of your product of choice.
  3. Spread the product across your skin.
  4. When you wake up, wash your skin and pat it dry.

How to short-contact slug

Short-contact slugging can work well when you have a few hours to spare, like when you are at work or school.

Short-contact slugging

  1. You should wash your face.
  2. While your skin is damp, apply a thin layer of your product to your face.
  3. For a few hours, go about your usual activities.
  4. pat dry the product

Are you ready to try it?

There are a few final tips.

  • If you apply the occlusive to damp skin, you will get the benefits.
  • If you use OTC or prescription medications for acne or other skin concerns, don’t apply those before slugging. You could enhance their effects and irritate your skin. But don’t skip them, either — check with your dermatologist before you try slugging.
  • If you have a skin condition like psoriasis or eczema, it’s best to check with a dermatologist before slugging.
  • “If you notice any changes to your skin, you should stop doing it. If the skin symptoms don’t improve in a day or two, you should connect with a healthcare professional.”

Slugging can leave your skin with a glowing, soft appearance right away. But if you want to soothe dry skin, you may need to slug it for several days before you notice results.

Everyone has different skin, and individual skin care needs to match. There is no set timetable for how quickly the project will be completed.

“Skin care and beauty experts on social media platforms may have helped to make the craze a thing. Applying Vaseline and other schotchkes to seal in skin’s moisturity is nothing new.”

If you want to improve your skin appearance or just get your glow back, you can try a safe beauty trick at home.

Hoping to treat persistent skin concerns or get some general guidance on creating a custom skin care routine? A board certified dermatologist can offer more information on treatment options and help you get started with a skin care regimen.

“A Canadian writer and author named Arida Santos- Longhurst has written extensively on all things health and lifestyle for more than a decade. She can be found frolicking around her beach town with her husband and dogs in tow or trying to master the stand-up paddle board when she isn’t holed up in her writing shed.”