Why ‘slugging’ could be the key to smooth, glass-like skin

Slugging has become one of this year’s biggest skincare crazes, but does the slimy fad really work? Here’s what the experts think of it.

Despite the unsavory name, slugging has soared in popularity and is being embraced by TikTok users and dermatologists alike.

TikTok is one of the main platforms credited for the skincare trend going viral, particularly among Gen Z, so it should come as little surprise the hashtag #slugging has more than 269 million views on the app.

“I first saw slugging all over my TikTok, so I learned about its hydrating benefits and how it can help achieve glass-like skin, which everyone wants these days,” skinfluencer and digital creator Ivana Pugliesi says.

What is slugging?

Slugging is a newish term for an old-school practice traditionally described as skin occlusion, which locks in moisture by creating a slimy, slug-like film on the face.

“In dermatologist terms, slugging involves using an occlusive product to create a layer of greasy film to trap and lock in moisture, and to help improve absorption of medications applied to the skin therefore improving efficacy,” dermatologist Dr Leona Yip says.

What are the benefits of slugging?

The main benefit of slugging is to improve skin hydration, which is why it’s particularly beneficial for those with dry skin or a damaged skin barrier.

“Slugging is great for helping to protect or replenish your skin moisture barrier and skin hydration is even more essential in the lead up to winter as it’s the best defense against seasonal dryness,” she says.

“If you want to try slugging, it’s important to avoid active ingredients like retinols and AHAs as this increases the risk of skin irritation.

“Slugging is best paired with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, vitamin E and panthenol (vitamin B5).”

What is reverse slugging?

Traditional slugging intensifies the properties of whatever skincare ingredients are underneath it, but reverse slugging does the opposite by being applied before any other product.

This is a great method for preventing harsher ingredients like retinols irritating sensitive or delicate areas of the skin and the practice isn’t exclusive to skincare, with hairdressers often applying it across client’s hairlines to prevent dye stains.

Is slugging for everyone?

Slugging won’t irritate the skin in its own right, but it can contribute to congestion.

“Teenagers and adults prone to oily skin, congestion and acne breakouts should be cautious or avoid slugging,” Dr Yip says.

“Always check with your dermatologist or GP if slugging is suitable for you.”

For Ivana, the benefits of slugging didn’t outweigh its, uh, slugginess.

“Slugging doesn’t fit my lifestyle and I don’t like the idea of petroleum jelly ruining my silk pillow cases,” she says.

“In all seriousness, I would consider trying it if my skin flares up but for the moment I’m content with my current routine.”

Written by Charlotte Brundrett.