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What is slugging? What to know about the viral K-beauty trend

This popular hack could be your ticket to more hydrated skin.
Illustration of a close up of someones face showing a dewy glossy skin and a woman with bright dewy skin
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While skin care products featuring snail mucin are the rage these days, slugging, a beauty trend that's been making the rounds on TikTok, doesn't actually involve any slimy critters.

Instead, the term refers to a skin care technique in which you coat your face with Vaseline or a similar product with promises to hydrate. While it recently took off on the app, the method has been around for a while: It has roots in Korean beauty and is a longtime favorite of the beauty crowd on Reddit.

So what exactly does it involve? We asked two dermatologists to break down the process and how it might benefit your skin.

What is slugging?

While there aren't actual slugs involved in the process, you may end up looking a little bit like one when you're done slathering on the moisturizing agent. The technique involves applying a heavy emollient, such as Vaseline or Aquaphor, as the final step in your skin care routine, Dr. Rachel Nazarian, board-certified dermatologist at the Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City told Shop TODAY. These products are occlusives, meaning they seal the top layer of the skin and enhance the penetration of the products that came before them, making them more effective.

What are the benefits of slugging?

Along with boosting the potency of your nightly skincare products, the process also locks in the moisture that's already on your skin and prevents you from losing some of it to the atmosphere overnight, Nazarian said.

Dr. Corey L. Hartman, Founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology in Birmingham, Alabama likened it to a "supercharged" skin hydration method. "It helps to repair a damaged skin barrier, hydrates dry skin, fights sagging skin and wrinkles, increases water content and makes the skin plumper," he said.

Who should try slugging?

Sounds like the ultimate skin hydration hack, right? For those who suffer from constantly dry, itchy skin, it could be a good solution. Plus, even those with normal skin may benefit from testing it out.

But the derms warn that the process isn't for everyone. Those with acne-prone or oily skin should skip out on the trend, as it can trap dead skin cells, encourage bacterial growth and worsen breakouts. "Even though Vaseline and similar products don't technically clog pores, it can interfere with the exfoliation methods that are crucial for success in this skin type and lead to flares of acne and breakouts," Hartman said.

And since it can make the products applied before more potent, it shouldn't be combined with retinoids, salicylic acid or other potentially irritating ingredients, Nazarian said.

How to do it

To try it out, apply a thin layer of your chosen emollient after going through your nightly skin care routine. You can make the process even more effective by using a humectant (something to retain moisture), like hyaluronic acid, beforehand to draw in water to your skin. Then apply the Vaseline (or a similar product) to seal it in, Nazarian said.

It works on the rest of your body, too. "If you have dry patches on your knees, elbows, ankles or anywhere else on the body, use your favorite moisturizer and then seal it with the petroleum-based product," Hartman said.

Vaseline and Aquaphor tend to be the most popular choices, but there are a few other options that will do the job. "Similar results can be achieved with a facial oil, but only facial oils like grapeseed oil, sunflower oil and rosehip oil which are all low in comedogenicity, or the ability to clog pores," Hartman said.

While most people can benefit from incorporating it into their regiment once a week, those with older, dry skin can tolerate the process nightly, Nazarian said.

If you're itching to try the slimy skin care hack, grab one of the below derm-approved products and get slugging.

Vaseline Petroleum Jelly

Aquaphor Healing Ointment

CeraVe Healing Ointment

Radha Beauty Organic Rosehip Oil

Maple Holistics Sunflower Oil for Hair Skin and Nails

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