What is slugging? The K-beauty hack for damaged skin!

What is slugging? The K-beauty hack for damaged skin!

Posted by Alex T on 6th Jul 2022

Learn what slugging is, how it can help improve your skincare routine and the amazing benefits that it can provide. Is slugging your face a great skincare hack?

Recently, more and more Reddit and TikTok users have started sharing their experience with a viral skincare technique called slugging. Finding out what slugging means is very important, since many people are willing to follow skincare gurus to improve their complexion and overall skin health. Do you want moist, dewy, glassy, glowing, plump and ‘chok chok’ (as it’s known in South Korea) skin? Then read on!

What is slugging?

Also known as face slugging, this is a process through which you apply an emollient cream to your skin as the last step of your nighttime routine. This emollient cream is occlusive, and that means it retains moisture instead of letting it evaporate from your skin. Another thing to note here is that slugging is also keeping the elements out. When selecting skincare products to use for slugging, the main ingredient that is relied upon is petrolatum. Well-known products containing this ingredient that are commonly used for slugging include Vaseline and Aquaphor. Petrolatum is recommended to maintain skin hydration levels, especially during winter when it can become very dry.

Despite the fact that slugging has become a viral sensation recently, this is not something new. Koreans have been using slugging as a way to improve the skin for many years. And it’s easy to see why. Slugging has tremendous skin benefits, which will be detailed below.

What skin types benefit the most from slugging?

Slugging is suitable for a variety of skin types. However, it’s mostly recommended for damaged or dry skin in particular. Is slugging good for oily skin? Sometimes it can be suitable, especially during the winter months. However, slugging is not always great for oily skin, so you may want to seek a dermatologist’s advice before attempting this. It’s certainly not something you want to repeat very often. There’s a concern that you can develop milia around the eyes if you have an oily skin type and you’re slugging often.

What ingredients should be avoided when slugging?

It’s important to note that while slugging is generally safe, there are a few things to keep in mind. We recommend not using any chemical exfoliants (such as AHA, BHA or PHA) or retinol in the same routine while slugging. If you use them together, these active ingredients can lead to skin irritation and peeling, which is undesirable. So it’s best to keep your skincare routine simple and minimal on the nights you want to slug.

How can the skin benefit from slugging?

The main benefit of slugging is to lock hydration into the skin. However, there are a variety of other benefits you get from slugging. One of the primary ones is that you get to prevent moisture loss. A simple night of slugging can help you prevent things like transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Your skin can maintain a great level of hydration, which is not the case if you encounter TEWL often.

Slugging can also help in restoring the lipids in the skin barrier. Skin lipids are crucial for the proper functioning of your skin and for maintaining its structure. These lipids retain moisture and keep harmful bacteria out. Studies have shown that once you start slugging, your skin will be able to generate more lipids and that will help to repair your skin’s protective barrier.

Slugging can also be great if you want to protect your skin from any damaging elements. It can help add the protective layer that your skin needs when you are dealing with dry, hot air. On top of that, it helps retain that protective layer for a long time.

Is slugging safe?

Generally, it’s a good idea to discuss with your dermatologist before slugging. This way you want to know if there are any potential side effects that might appear and which you need to be aware of.

What you will notice is that slugging is generally safe and is non-irritating - it doesn’t have harsh chemicals that could damage your skin. As we mentioned earlier, slugging is very hydrating, and that is great for your skin’s health, especially in the long run. It’s also inexpensive since face slugging just involves buying rather inexpensive products, such as Vaseline.

Slugging is recommended for people that live in very cold or dry climates. It’s also suitable for those that have chapped, dry skin or whose skin is prone to irritation. The same thing can be said if you have atopic dermatitis or eczema-related issues.

Understanding the slugging process

Once you understand the process of slugging, you will notice it’s actually quite easy to perform. There are a few steps that you need to follow, but as we said earlier, it’s safe and you can try it from time to time. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Slugging is only suitable for clean skin, which means you have to cleanse, exfoliate and then moisturise.
  • Once you do so, you want to add a bit of petroleum jelly. Since it is thick in consistency, you don’t want to add too much – a pea-sized amount is sufficient to cover your entire face with a thin layer. You can add it to your lips and eyelids at first, just to test it out. Then you can move on to other parts of your face.
  • You want to wait around 30 minutes before you go to bed; this will give the products time to do their job properly. You can add a towel over the pillowcase to ensure it’s not covered in Vaseline.
  • Once you do that, you can go to sleep. When you wake up, you need to wash your face. Cleansing is a crucial part here, because you want to ensure your face is fully clean and free of petroleum jelly, which is quite greasy.
  • Enjoy a soft, moist, and glowing complexion!
  • Repeat once or twice a week, or as needed. Those with extremely dry skin can slug for two to three days in a row and give it a break for a few days before repeating this again.

Are there any downsides to slugging?

Slugging is generally safe, but as we said earlier, there are situations when it might not be the ideal option. Slugging your face might not be appropriate if you have skin prone to acne or if you’re prone to clogged pores. AHAs, BHAs and retinol should not be used at the same time while slugging. A visit to the dermatologist is important because he/she will let you know if slugging is suitable for you.


Slugging is a skincare technique loved by many because it produces amazing results that are visible the next morning. There’s a reason why it has become a social media sensation, and that is because it works well to hydrate your skin and make it glow. Sure, it might not be suitable for acne-prone or oily skin, but in the end, slugging is still a great way to ensure that you have smooth and rejuvenated skin.