For those not in the know (we didn’t have a clue either), slugging refers to turning yourself into a slug.
The idea is that you make your face as slick, oily and shiny as if you were a slug sliming outdoors. “Slugging” is achieved by smothering your face (and hands, if desired) in Vaseline before you go to sleep.
Fans of slugging say it leaves your skin softened, plumped, and clear. There’s no special skill needed to complete the process – you simply do your normal skincare routine, and then you slather on as much petroleum jelly as your face can handle.
Since we deal with a patient population that struggles with acne on a daily basis — this notion is horrifying to us. Covering your skin with something that thick and occlusive is begging for breakouts and skin sorrows.
However, some skin experts actually vouch for this questionable beauty habit. Dermatologist Dr Adam Friedmann recommends slugging as a great way to moisturize skin at night. “Vaseline at night-time is great for soft skin in the morning,” he tells Metro.co.uk. “The skin absorbs the Vaseline and becomes softer and less wrinkled.”
Slugging supporters claim that applying Vaseline in this manner helps the skin look softer and plumper, while reducing the appearance of wrinkles, and helps the skin look younger. “I tend to favor greasy, heavy moisturizers like Vaseline before bed and lighter moisturizers in the morning,” Friedmann reveals.
However, before you go crazy with the slugging, please consider both sides of the story. Not every skin expert agrees that slugging is a wise technique…
Remember how we mentioned Vaseline sits on the skin and blocks up pores?
Vaseline is occlusive. If your face is covered in a layer of Vaseline, nothing can get in to your pores, and nothing can get out. Your poor pores are essentially sealed up, meaning that no bacteria, sweat, or oil can make its way out of your skin.
“Slugging is the worst skin trend I have ever heard of” vents Naomi Fenlin, Philadelphia skincare specialist. “Anything you put on your skin that is completely occlusive is a bad thing! It traps dirt, bacteria, and oil on the surface on your skin, and anything lurking inside your pores is trapped in there. We NEVER recommend petroleum based products to our patients.”
Raelle Levicke, lead-aesthetician at Philadelphia’s About Face Skin Care, agrees with Fenlin. “This is something really old-fashioned that my grandmother used to do… before we knew better. Before we had more sophisticated, elegant product options.”
Additionally, Naomi adds that the purported benefits of slugging are a lark. “There is nothing in Vaseline that can plump the skin, nor moisturize it. Vaseline is great for some very specific wound-care, but in the beauty / skincare world — Vaseline is at the very bottom of the list for efficient, everyday skincare products.”
“If someone with acne tried slugging with Vaseline, chances are really high that they would very broken-out by the next day. Please don’t try this one at home!” she concludes.
If you have specific skin concerns such as brown-spots, blemishes, or dryness, you would be much better off using a product with active ingredients to tackle your issues rather than sealing off your skin with bland Vaseline.
What if you wanted to apply the concept of “slugging” to a product you KNOW works for your skin?
Fenlin frowns on this idea too. “The skin can only absorb so much product. It would be a waste to load up on a product for the sake of “slugging” when the majority of the product is going to be total excess.”
The other huge downside to Vaseline slugging? The cleanup. There’s the very real issue of pillow stains the next morning, plus having the fight to remove all of the goo off your face.
Our advice: Only try slugging if you have perfectly normal skin. It won’t do you much harm, and if you find it makes you feel like a super-soft baby, than great.
But if you have specific skin concerns, it’s always going to be better to use products designed to tackle those issues. They’ll be much more effective, and less likely to wreck your bedsheets.