The Ultimate Guide to Slugging: Unlocking the Secrets of Beauty Skincare

By: Dr. Calvin Williams


The Ultimate Guide to Slugging: Unlocking the Secrets of Korean Beauty Skincare

When it comes to skincare, it’s a never-ending adventure, with so many routines, products, and tips to try. One trend that has recently taken the beauty world by storm is “slugging.” While the name might not sound appealing, many people swear by its effectiveness. But what exactly is slugging, and why does it have such an odd name? In this post, we dive into this intriguing Korean skincare practice, its benefits, and how you can incorporate it into your own skincare routine.


Slugging is a technique that involves applying an occlusive agent, often petroleum jelly, over your regular skincare products before going to bed. The name "slugging" comes from the slightly slick and shiny appearance your face takes on, somewhat akin to a slug. As odd as that might sound, it has been a well-kept secret in the Korean beauty world and is now gaining popularity internationally.

Section I: Understanding Slugging

1. What is Slugging?

a. Definition of slugging in skincare

Slugging in skincare refers to applying a thick layer of an occlusive agent, like petroleum jelly, over your night-time skincare products. This is done to seal in the moisture and the products underneath, creating a barrier that prevents water loss from the skin.

b. The primary goal of slugging

The main objective behind slugging is to lock in hydration. By creating a seal on the skin, it helps to prevent the evaporation of moisture throughout the night. This can be particularly beneficial in dry environments or during winter months when the air lacks humidity and can draw moisture from your skin.

c. Who should consider slugging

Slugging can be an excellent method for those with dry or dehydrated skin. If you often wake up feeling like your skin is parched despite using nighttime moisturizers, or if you are looking to give your skin a boost of hydration, slugging might be worth a try. However, it’s important to note that it might not be suitable for all skin types, especially those with oily or acne-prone skin.

2. Ingredients Commonly Used in Slugging

a. Petroleum jelly as a primary ingredient

The star of the slugging routine is petroleum jelly, often known by the brand name Vaseline. Petroleum jelly is highly effective as an occlusive agent. It’s safe, generally non-irritating, and widely available.

b. Alternatives to petroleum jelly

While petroleum jelly is the most common ingredient used for slugging, there are alternatives. Some people prefer to use thick creams or balms that contain other occlusive agents like mineral oil, lanolin, or silicones but patients must make sure these agents and others are safe for their skincare use. 

c. Understanding occlusive agents

Occlusive agents work by forming a physical barrier over the skin that seals in moisture. It’s essential to understand that they don’t add moisture to the skin but rather lock in what’s already there. This is why it’s important to apply your hydrating serums and moisturizers underneath the occlusive layer.

This wraps up the first section of our guide on slugging. In the next segment, we will explore the myriad of benefits that this technique offers and how it can transform your skin.

Section II: The Benefits of Slugging

Having delved into what slugging is and the ingredients commonly used, it’s time to uncover the benefits of this intriguing skincare practice. Here's how slugging can positively impact your skin:

1. Moisture Retention

a. How slugging helps to lock in moisture

As discussed earlier, slugging involves applying an occlusive layer over your skincare products. This layer acts as a seal, which helps to keep the moisture from evaporating from your skin. This is particularly beneficial during the night when the skin's natural repair processes are at work, and it needs all the hydration it can get.

b. Its role in preventing transepidermal water loss

Transepidermal water loss (TEWL) is a process where water from deep layers of the skin evaporates into the environment. This can leave your skin feeling dry and parched. By forming a protective barrier, slugging significantly reduces TEWL, ensuring that your skin remains hydrated.

2. Skin Barrier Repair

a. Slugging for individuals with dry skin or eczema

For those with dry skin or conditions like eczema, the skin barrier is often compromised. This means it’s less effective at keeping moisture in and protecting the skin from irritants. Slugging can play a vital role in repairing the skin barrier. By locking in moisture and providing a protective shield, it allows the skin to heal and regenerate more effectively.

b. How it protects and repairs the skin barrier

The occlusive layer used in slugging not only locks in moisture but also shields the skin from external irritants and allergens. This can be particularly beneficial for people whose skin is sensitive to certain environmental factors. The protection offered by slugging can help reduce redness, inflammation, and itching associated with a compromised skin barrier.

3. Improving Skin Texture

a. Slugging for softer, plumper skin

With continued use, many individuals who practice slugging report that their skin feels noticeably softer and plumper. This is because well-hydrated skin is more resilient and tends to have a smoother texture. If you struggle with rough patches or flaky skin, slugging could be a game-changer for you.

b. Reduction in the appearance of dry patches

Dry patches can make your skin look dull and uneven. Slugging helps to alleviate this issue by providing the skin with a moisture-boosting environment where dry patches can heal. With regular slugging, you might find that your skin looks more even and radiant.

Have you experienced any of these benefits with slugging? Are you intrigued to try it out? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

Stay tuned for the next section, where we will guide you on how to incorporate slugging into your skincare routine effectively.

Section III: How to Incorporate Slugging into Your Skincare Routine

Now that you are well-acquainted with the benefits of slugging, you might be eager to give it a try. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to incorporate slugging into your skincare routine.

1. Prepping Your Skin

a. The importance of starting with clean skin

Before you start slugging, it’s essential to make sure your skin is clean. Use a gentle cleanser to wash your face. This helps in removing any dirt, oils, or makeup, ensuring that the occlusive layer you apply doesn’t trap any impurities against your skin.

b. Applying your regular skincare products

After cleansing, follow your regular skincare routine. Apply any serums, treatments, or moisturizers you usually use. Make sure your skin is well-hydrated before you apply the occlusive layer.

2. Applying the Occlusive Agent

a. How much product to use

You don’t need a lot of occlusive agent for slugging. A small amount of petroleum jelly or your chosen occlusive should be enough to cover your face thinly. Remember, the goal is to lock in moisture, not to suffocate your skin.

b. Tips for application

Apply the occlusive agent by gently patting it onto your skin. Avoid rubbing it in as this might cause the products underneath to pill or move around. Focus on areas that tend to be drier or have more fine lines.

3. When to Slug

a. Ideal conditions and frequency for slugging

Slugging is typically done at night, as this is when the skin does most of its repairing. It’s also more practical to have a shiny face while you sleep rather than during the day. Depending on your skin type and how it reacts, you might want to slug every night, or only once or twice a week.

b. Overnight slugging vs. daytime

While slugging is generally a nighttime practice, if you have extremely dry skin, you might find that using a very thin layer of an occlusive agent during the day under makeup can also be beneficial.

Section IV: Precautions and Considerations

Slugging is not without its caveats. Here’s what you need to be cautious about:

1. Potential Drawbacks of Slugging

a. Understanding comedogenic effects

For some people, particularly those with oily or acne-prone skin, slugging can be comedogenic, meaning it can clog pores and lead to breakouts. You can consider patch testing before applying the product all over your face.

b. The importance of patch testing

Before diving into slugging, do a patch test by applying the occlusive agent on a small area of your skin. Perform this daily for 72 hours to see if there is any reaction before applying it to your entire face.

2. Who Should Avoid Slugging?

a. Considerations for those with acne-prone or oily skin

If you have oily or acne-prone skin, approach slugging with caution or consider avoiding it altogether. Because slugging creates a barrier, it can trap oils and lead to breakouts in individuals with these skin types.

b. Understanding skin sensitivities

Even though petroleum jelly is considered non-irritating, some people might have sensitivities to it or alternative occlusive agents. Always listen to your skin and stop if you notice any irritation.


Slugging, a global phenomenon, but also a skincare trend in Bedford, TX, originated from Korean beauty practices, involves applying an occlusive layer over your skincare products to lock in moisture. While it can be highly beneficial, especially for those with dry skin, it's not a one-size-fits-all solution. It's vital to approach slugging with an understanding of your skin type and its needs. Listen to your skin, and don’t hesitate to adjust or skip this method if it’s not beneficial for you. We here at Essential Dermatology Group, find creative ways to incorporate slugging or light slugging into our patient's routines who can benefit from it.  Our expert dermatologist in Bedford, TX are waiting to show you how to better your skincare routine. 

* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.