Skip to main content

How it works:

  • Share your skin goals and snap selfies

  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

How it works:

  • Share your skin goals and snap selfies

  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

  1. blog
  2. > Skin Treatments

Slugging: The dermatologist-approved skincare hack going viral on TikTok

Learn how this technique can help you get radiant, moisturized skin.

Default avatar
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
featuring Dr. Whitney Tolpinrud
Updated on Jan 23, 2024 • 13 min read
Medically reviewed by Meredith Hartle, DO
Slugging Moisturizing Skincare Trend
Default avatar
Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
featuring Dr. Whitney Tolpinrud
Updated on Jan 23, 2024 • 13 min read
Medically reviewed by Meredith Hartle, DO
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

In this article

What is slugging?
More

Summary

  • Slugging is a skincare technique where you apply petroleum jelly, like Vaseline, to your face as a final step in your nighttime skincare routine. It may help retain moisture, repair the skin barrier, and reduce signs of aging.

  • To slug, cleanse your skin, apply a thin layer of Vaseline or similar product on damp skin, leave it overnight, and wash it off in the morning. Alternatively, the technique can be used as a daytime hydrating mask.

  • Recommended products for slugging include Curology Cream Moisturizer, Vaseline Healing Jelly Original, CeraVe Healing Ointment, and Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion.

  • Slugging may not be suitable for everyone due to potential allergic reactions, oily feeling on the skin, overapplication, and its heaviness for acne-prone skin.

  • We always recommend personalized skincare tailored to your needs. Curology’s team of licensed dermatology providers can examine your skin and prescribe a personalized ᴿˣ formula for you.

Ah, slugging, another wellness trend making a splash on the internet. This hydration technique involves slathering your face in petroleum jelly (also known as petrolatum) to achieve smooth, radiant skin. For many, it works!

Fun fact: Slugging isn’t a new skincare trend at all. In fact, moisturizing with Vaseline is super old-school. Dr. Whitney Tolpinrud, one of Curology’s board-certified dermatologists, says, “Dermatologists love petrolatum. It helps repair the skin barrier, assists with wound healing, and prevents water evaporation.” 

That said, slugging isn’t for everyone. Here, we’ll explain what slugging is, its benefits, how to slug, and our favorite slug-worthy products. We’ll also touch on reasons why you might choose not to slug. Read on to see if it might be right for you!

Dermatologists love petrolatum. It helps repair the skin barrier, assists with wound healing, and prevents water evaporation.
Dermatologists love petrolatum. It helps repair the skin barrier, assists with wound healing, and prevents water evaporation.
Dr. Whitney Tolpinrud

What is slugging?

Slugging is a classic skincare technique making a comeback thanks to TikTok. It involves applying a thin layer of petroleum jelly, such as pure Vaseline, to the entire face as the final step of a nighttime skincare routine.¹ Petroleum jelly is a thick occlusive, which helps lock in hydration. It also gives the skin the shiny sheen of a smooth gastropod—asnail or slug. 

Vaseline has a long history in beauty care—more than 140 years! It’s been used to improve diaper rash, heal cuts and burns, and moisturize the skin. In the late 1800s, it was known as “wonder jelly.” More recently, Korean beauty (aka K-beauty) has revived petroleum jelly as a deep-down moisturizing practice for the skin. In South Korea, the practice is called “chok chok,” meaning “moist.”

The potential skin benefits of slugging

Slugging is an excellent way to help keep the skin moist. It works wonders on dry and dehydrated skin and can repair the natural skin barrier almost instantly. And, for those with acne-prone skin, petroleum jelly is non-comedogenic. Let’s take a look at the benefits of this classic remedy:

Slugging’s potential skin benefits

If you’re considering trying out the trending skincare technique of slugging, you might wonder about its potential benefits to your skin. Slugging might seem simple, but it has many benefits for various skin concerns.

Let’s dive into the key advantages of this practice to see how it can enhance your skincare routine:

  • Prevents water loss: Occlusives trap water to your skin by forming a protective layer on the skin’s surface and blocking transepidermal water loss (TEWL) to seal in moisture and maintain hydration.²

  • Repairs the skin barrier: The emollient properties of petrolatum soothe and soften the skin and increase moisture. Research shows that petrolatum has an immediate effect in repairing damage to the skin’s protective barrier.³ You can enjoy these benefits with Curology’s new product, Barrier Balm. Barrier Balm contains a blend of moisturizers, including petrolatum, to nourish and reinforce your skin barrier. This skincare product has been recognized by the National Eczema Association and is great for anyone needing relief from skin irritation. 

  • Reduces signs of aging: The moisturizing effects help skin look smoother and brighter while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. 

  • Soothing irritated skin: Vaseline can provide a soothing effect if you have sensitive or irritated skin. Its thick texture forms a shield protecting your skin from further irritants, allowing it to heal and reducing discomfort.

  • Preventing dryness and cracking: Regular application of Vaseline can prevent the skin from becoming too dry and cracking, especially in areas prone to roughness like elbows, knees, and heels. It’s an effective way to maintain smooth and supple skin in these areas.

Slugging may be an excellent option for seasonally dry skin, over-exfoliated skin, or contact dermatitis from irritating ingredients. Dr. Tolpinrud reminds us that “in its purest form (e.g., plain Vaseline), petrolatum doesn’t have any preservatives or allergens. That means it can be very helpful for those with irritated or sensitive skin.” Although pure Vaseline is generally safe for all skin types, it may not be the best choice for some.

Does slugging have any side effects? 

Vaseline is a thick, somewhat greasy gel, which presents a few potential downsides. It has more benefits than side effects, but that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. Everyone’s skin responds to ingredients differently. Here are a few potential downsides and side effects of “wonder jelly”:

  • Allergic reaction: If topical petroleum causes skin redness, tenderness, itching, or swelling, it’s a sign of allergic contact dermatitis.  

  • Oily-feeling skin: Heavy, occlusive moisturizers might make oily skin seem oilier. Try lightweight moisturizers with ingredients like glycerin instead.

  • Overapplication: A little goes a long way, and more is not necessarily better. An extra thick glob will wreak havoc on your pillowcases. 

  • Too heavy: Pure Vaseline is non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog your pores. But it may still be too heavy for people with acne-prone skin experiencing active breakouts. 

How to slug 

Slugging is easy! It’s best as a stand-alone treatment following cleansing.  

A step-by-step guide to slugging

  • Step 1: Cleanse your skin using a gentle hydrating cleanser.

  • Step 2: Apply a thin layer of Vaseline over your face and neck while your skin is still damp.

  • Step 3: Leave it overnight.

  • Last step: Wash your face with plain water in the morning. 

If the idea of greasing your pillowcases is too much, slug during the day; it’s like wearing a hydrating mask. Makeup likely won’t stick to your face, so you might reserve daytime slugging for a lazy day around the house.

Skincare Slugging - How to Slug Your Face With Vaseline

Incorporating slugging into your skincare routine

This skincare technique can easily be incorporated into your skincare routine, but there are some caveats when using a thick occlusive product in conjunction with treatment creams. 

  • Applying treatment cream after slugging may block active ingredients: Some active ingredients, such as retinol and retinoids (tretinoin), can’t penetrate a thick moisturizing barrier. 

  • Applying treatment cream before slugging may cause skin irritation: Dermatology providers generally say you should avoid burying active ingredients under a thick layer of Vaseline to prevent irritation. 

How often you slug is a personal choice. But on the days you do, it’s probably best to skip exfoliating creams and use a gentle, hydrating cleanser.

Alternatives to slugging for good skin health

Not a fan of coating your face in Vaseline? Slugging might not suit everyone. But don't worry, there are plenty of other ways to hydrate and protect your skin. 

Let’s look at some user-friendly and effective alternatives to slugging that can help maintain your skin’s moisture and health:

Emollients: Think of these like skin smoothers. They fill in the little gaps in your skin, making it feel softer and smoother. You can find them in products with ingredients like shea butter or jojoba oil.⁴ They’re great if your skin feels rough or dry.

Humectants: These are like skin hydrators. They pull water into the top layer of your skin from deeper layers or even from the air around you.⁵ Ingredients like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, or aloe vera⁶ are common humectants. They’re perfect if your skin feels dehydrated.

Occlusives: Petrolatum isn’t the only occlusive that can help your skin! These ingredients create a protective layer on your skin to lock in moisture, just like a seal.⁷ Think of ingredients like beeswax, mineral oil, or silicones. Use these if your skin is very dry or you want to protect it from losing moisture.

Protein rejuvenators: These ingredients, like collagen or keratin, are like skin food. They help to rejuvenate and repair your skin, making it look healthier. They’re great for aging skin or skin damaged by the sun.⁸

Special moisturizers: There are lots of different types of moisturizers out there-–lotions, creams, ointments, and gels. Each is a mix of the first three types (emollients, humectants, and occlusives) and is designed for different skin types and needs. For example, a light lotion might be best if you have oily skin. If your skin is dehydrated, a richer cream or ointment might be what you need.

Remember, it’s all about finding what works best for your skin. If slugging feels too heavy or greasy, these alternatives can be a great way to keep your skin hydrated and healthy!

Our favorite rich moisturizers

These moisturizers either feature petroleum jelly or are grease-free moisturizers for dry or sensitive skin. Our top picks are free of pore-clogging ingredients.

1. Curology Cream Moisturizer: We might be biased on this one, but it works! The Curology Rich Moisturizer (aka the Cream Moisturizer) deeply hydrates dry skin. We use hyaluronic acid, glycerin, aloe, and shea butter to attract moisture, squalane to maximize absorption, and allantoin as an emollient to seal it in.

2. Vaseline Healing Jelly Original: This one-ingredient wonder is all you need to start your quest for quenched skin. It’s generally safe to apply Vaseline to your face or anywhere in need of hydration.

3. CeraVe Healing Ointment: Cerave Healing Ointment is designed for dry, cracked, or eczema-prone skin that needs extra hydration. It has hyaluronic acid and ceramides, which help restore the skin barrier and bring extra water to the skin. 

4. Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion+: This moisturizer is loaded with hydrating ingredients (including petroleum) that promise “dramatically different” results. It’s free of ingredients known to cause breakouts.

Take the guesswork out of your skincare routine

Everyone is unique. Whether you follow every beauty trend or stick to what you know, figuring out which skincare products fit your specific needs can be tricky. But there’s an easier way to build a skincare routine than checking TikTok.

Curology helps take the guesswork out of your skincare routine. Our in-house licensed dermatology providers work with you to examine your skin, assess your skincare goals, and prescribe a personalized prescription formula alongside other recommendations, such as Curology’s moisturizer.* If you’re tired of sorting through the latest trends on social media, give us a try.

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology.

FAQs

What does slugging mean?

Slugging is a classic skincare technique making a comeback thanks to a viral beauty trend on TikTok. It involves applying a thin layer of petroleum jelly, such as pure Vaseline, to the entire face as the final step of a nighttime skincare routine. Petroleum jelly is a thick occlusive, which helps lock in hydration. It also gives the skin the shiny sheen of a smooth gastropod (snail or slug).

Does slugging have any side effects?

Possible side effects of slugging include the following:

Allergic reaction: If topical petroleum causes skin redness, tenderness, itching, or swelling, it’s a sign of allergic contact dermatitis.  

Oily-feeling skin: Heavy, occlusive moisturizers might make oily skin seem oilier. 

Overapplication: A little goes a long way, and more is not necessarily better. Too heavy. Pure Vaseline is non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog your pores.

What is body slugging?

Body slugging is similar to facial slugging. It involves applying a layer of an occlusive agent like petroleum jelly (Vaseline) over your body to lock in moisture. This method is especially beneficial for areas prone to dryness and roughness, such as elbows, knees, and heels. Just like facial slugging, body slugging is best done after a shower when your skin is still damp, to maximize moisture retention.

Can all skin types try slugging?

While slugging is generally safe, it’s not ideal for all skin types. If you have oily or acne-prone skin, slugging might feel too heavy, potentially leading to breakouts, especially if done excessively. People with sensitive skin should also be cautious, as they might experience allergic reactions to petroleum jelly. It’s always a good idea to do a patch test first or consult with a dermatologist, especially if you have specific skin concerns.

What is a good skincare routine that hydrates my skin?

A good hydrating skincare routine should include gentle cleansing, followed by the application of a moisturizer that suits your skin type. For dry skin, richer creams or ointments with occlusive properties, like those mentioned (Curology Cream Moisturizer, CeraVe Healing Ointment), can be very effective. 

For oily or combination skin, lighter lotions or gels that provide hydration without feeling too heavy are ideal. Also, incorporating ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerin can help attract and retain moisture. Remember, hydration is key, so drinking plenty of water and maintaining a healthy diet contribute to skin health.

These answers should help clarify some common questions about slugging and provide guidance for maintaining well-hydrated skin. Remember, everyone’s skin is unique, so it’s important to find a routine that works best for your individual needs!

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1.  Pagani, K., et al. Slugging: TikTokᵀᴹas a source of a viral “harmless” beauty trend. Clinics in Dermatology. (November-December 2022).

  2.  Harwood, A., et al. Moisturizers. (2022, August 21).

  3.  Lodén, M. Role of topical emollients and moisturizers in the treatment of dry skin barrier disorders. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology. (2003, n.d.).

  4.  Purnamawati, S., et al. The Role of Moisturizers in Addressing Various Kinds of Dermatitis: A Review. Clin Med Res. Ibid.

  5.  Purnamawati, S., et al. The Role of Moisturizers in Addressing Various Kinds of Dermatitis: A Review. Clin Med Res. Ibid.

  6. Razia, S., et al. Effects of Aloe vera Flower Extract and Its Active Constituent Isoorientin on Skin Moisturization via Regulating Involucrin Expression: In Vitro and Molecular Docking Studies. Molecules. (May 2021).

  7. Purnamawati, S., et al. The Role of Moisturizers in Addressing Various Kinds of Dermatitis: A Review. Clin Med Res. Ibid.

  8.  Purnamawati, S., et al. The Role of Moisturizers in Addressing Various Kinds of Dermatitis: A Review. Clin Med Res. Ibid.

Meredith Hartle is a board-certified Family Medicine physician at Curology. She earned her medical degree at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, MO.

* Cancel anytime. Subject to consultation. Subscription is required. Results may vary. 

** Restrictions apply. See website for full details and important safety information.

This article was originally published on March 21, 2022, and updated on March 28, 2023, and January 22, 2024.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Our policy on product links:Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Meredith Hartle, DO

Meredith Hartle, DO

Related Articles

Which moisturizer is best for you?Snail mucin for skin: What to know about this buzzy ingredientHow to choose the best moisturizer for acne-prone skinAsk an expert: What happens if you stop using tretinoin? Fresh ink—what to do when a tattoo is peeling

Popular Articles

Ask Curology: Is my cold breaking me out?Slugging: The dermatologist-approved skincare hack going viral on TikTokTretinoin vs retinol: What’s the difference?How to create a self-care routine that actually sticksYour 2023 skincare horoscope
Try prescription skincare
30-day trial. Subject to consultation. Cancel anytime.
Get routine essentials
Hand grabbing product on display with other Curology Custom Formula bottles on a white shelf.
Hand grabbing product on display with other Curology Custom Formula bottles on a white shelf.

Good skin days ahead

Join the 1M+ patients who’ve tackled everything from acne, to fine lines, to hair thinning with prescription-powered treatments, personalized by a Licensed Dermatology Provider.
Ingredients proven to tackle
  • Breakouts
  • Redness
  • Fine lines
  • Dark spots
  • Hair thinning

$29.95/month

*Subject to consultation. Cancel anytime.
Get StartedShop ProductsWhy CurologyHow It WorksOur StoryCommunity
SupportBlogReviewsCareersContact Us
Follow @curology
Terms of ServicePrivacy Notice
Do Not Sell My Personal Information
All Rights Reserved © 2024 Curology