Slugging, For Scaredy Cats


Slugging isn’t new, but it is everywhere. After all we are in peak slugging season, when skin tends to be its driest, and methods like slugging work overtime to trap moisture onto skin. For those who haven’t experienced the pure chaos joy of skincare Tiktok, slugging is where you slap on an occlusive product—typically an ointment—as the final step in a skincare routine. We’re talking literal Vaseline smothered all over your face (or wherever you happen to be dry). Skincare obssessives swear by it, and everyone else…well they’re not so sure. But fear not! You too can hop on the slugging bandwagon. Below, a guide to get into slugging, even if you’re scared to.

The Method

Slugging is helpfully uncomplicated. Start at night, if only so you aren’t forced to walk around the day wearing a reflective veil of goop. Cleanse first, and then proceed with the rest of your nighttime routine as normal. If you tone, tone, if you serum, serum. It’s OK to use actives (retinols, acids, pick your-heavy-duty ingredient) as well, but you may want to test a small area first, lest you irritate your skin. Slugging’s whole purpose is to keep things close to your skin, and you don’t want to learn the hard way that trapping a 10-percent AHA under a thick cream might do your skin more harm than good. But! You could also be fine doing this…that’s the thing about skin, everyone’s is different.

Once your toner and/or serum and/or just cleanser is out of the way, you absolutely MUST moisturize. This is crucial! The thick occlusive you use to “slug” isn’t going to give you the extreme moisture job you’re looking for. What it really does is make your moisturizer underneath work harder by trapping humectants and water molecules close to your skin. Only after you’ve loaded up with a moisturizer do you slap an occlusive on top. Let’s call this the slugger. Wondering what exactly you should use?

The Products

If you’re scared of super thick goos on your face, this is where you’re going to have to put on your big boy pants. For a proper slugging job you need an occlusive, which is a category or component of products that “stay on the surface of the skin and slow evaporation." Petrolatum, the key ingredient in Aquaphor and Vasline, is the most widely known occlusive. It’s thick, it’s sticky, it gets the job done. BUT! Those aren’t your only options. Swap in something slightly thinner and less tacky, and we promise you’ll still notice results. Some good sluggers for the ointment-averse are Weleda’s Skin Food and also After Baume, which is made by ITG’s friends on the other side of the office. These options are occlusives on the lighter side that are made to be more user-friendly. And no mater which occlusive you choose, always use a small—we’re talking pea-sized—amount. Warm it in your hands first, and, as NYC-beloved dermatologist Dr. Howard advises, pat it onto your skin. You’ll go to bed like a glazed donut, and wake up with a comfy, well–moisturized face.

The Warning

A final note to consider: Slugging isn’t for everyone. Given that slugging’s sole purpose is to trap moisture onto your skin, skip the slugging if your skin is already oily. Your body’s oil is doing the slugging for you! Also! Proceed with caution if you have acne-prone skin. One way to go about it is a targeted approach. If you know your breakout area is your forehead, for example, just skip over it. But if you tend to break out all over, focus on anti-acne treatments first. Slugging will always be around; it can come later.

Photo via ITG