Have you heard about slugging? As slimy as it might sound, it’s a Korean beauty skincare trend made popular a few years ago that has recently had a renaissance thanks to TikTok, on which it’s going viral. Check Reddit and you’ll also see a number of threads enthusing about it. “Slugging is a trend that centres around putting a thick layer of Vaseline or petroleum jelly on your face as the final step in your skincare routine,” explains Maree Kinder, founder of Beauty & Seoul.“The idea behind it is to act as a seal or barrier to prevent moisture loss from skin.”
Taking the concept of fortifying the skin barrier to new – and somewhat greasy – heights, to many (those for whom a moisturiser is more than enough, thank you very much) the thought of slapping on some Vaseline onto skin is a no-no. But those who do it swear it helps to leave skin hydrated, plump and glowing. The trend emerged after, Kinder says, a Korean actress claimed it was her secret to “chok chok” skin, which is that dewy finish that has also become popular in the UK.
But does it work? While some skin types can take this hefty way to retain moisture, most dermatologists are wary of the trend: “I worry that excessive amounts of petroleum jelly will clog pores, especially if you already suffer from acne-prone skin,” says Dr Ewoma Ukeleghe, founder of SKNDOCTOR. “Vaseline is occlusive, meaning it forms a barrier – pure occlusion can trigger breakouts in acne-prone skin types.”
Kinder, who hails from Korea and grew up in the UK, also admits that few of her South Korean friends actually partake in the trend, but does point out that the method can work for dry skin types. Dr Ukeleghe agrees, explaining that slugging on “small, dry patches, shouldn’t be too problematic for the skin as petroleum jelly can be soothing and moisturising” but she advises avoiding applying it in a blanket manner. It’s comedogenic so there’s a high chance you’ll break out in spots.
What both experts agree is that there are products that promise that same dewy, plump skin without the risk factor. Ingredients like ceramides and niacinamide work to help bolster the skin’s barrier, leading to better retention of moisture in the skin, and subsequently a healthier appearance. “Hyaluronic acid is the ultimate hydrating molecule,” adds Dr Ukeleghe. “It’s a natural component in our skin but, applied topically, helps bind and retain moisture.” She recommends following with a nourishing moisturiser to keep everything locked in.
Meanwhile, good quality facial oils may also be excellently deployed as the last step in your skincare regime to lock hydration in and leave skin luminous. Finally, Dr Ukeleghe recommends making use of overnight masks in lieu of Vaseline. Sticky situation averted.
The best slugging skincare alternatives
Lumene Arctic Hydra Care Rich Night Balm
£26.90, available at Lookfantastic.com.
Bad Habit Hemp Nourishing Facial Oil
£29, available at Morphe.com.
Vichy Liftactiv Supreme HA Epidermal Filler Serum
£38, available at Boots.com.
Glow Recipe Plum Plump Hyaluronic Serum
£37, available at Cultbeauty.co.uk.
Estée Lauder Revitalizing Supreme+ Bright Power Soft Creme
£75, available at Lookfantastic.com.