Can you slug your way to glowing skin?

Posted by Sara Wainwright on

What we think about slugging


What is slugging?

Slugging gets its name from, well, slugs. Essentially, slugging involves slathering your face with an occlusive product (such as petroleum jelly) as the last step of your nighttime skincare routine and keeping it on overnight. The thick, slimy texture of products used for slugging could be compared to the mucus of a slug, hence the name. Intrigued? Read on...

While the concept of using a product such as Vaseline to seal in moisture in the skin isn’t anything new (Marilyn Monroe apparently swore by Vaseline to keep her skin soft and glowy), slugging as a skincare trend has gained quite a following amongst skincare enthusiasts of late thanks to social media.

We wanted to break down how slugging works, how to decide if slugging is for you and how to give it a try if you are so inclined. 

But first, a story...

When I first heard the term "slugging" a few months ago, I had such a chuckle thanks to a flashback I had to a holiday we went on as a family in my childhood. When I was about 10 years old, we went to visit The Augrabies Falls, a stunning waterfall on the Orange River in South Africa.

For those of you that have been, you'll know that the falls are situated in an arid region with very low rainfall and extreme variations in temperature. After an extremely dry, hot day my skin was feeling particularly parched so instinctively I took a warm bath and then proceeded to lather my face and body in Vaseline. Quite a slimy and messy affair but I felt like I needed to take some drastic measures. The next morning, much to my amazement, my skin felt incredibly soft and supple, crystalizing my first experience with slugging into my memory.

How does slugging work?

Slugging forms a protective layer on top of skin to lock moisture (as well as the other products you've used in your nighttime routine) in. This prevents trans epidermal water loss (TEWL), leaving your skin looking and feeling soft, youthful and glowy in the morning. 

How to decide if slugging is for you?

Here are a couple of considerations:

  • Slugging may be for you if you have dry skin. Those with oily skin or acne prone skin may want to avoid slugging or slug less. Slugging itself is not comedogenic (acne-causing), but if you have clogged pores or retained makeup, you could create an infection or outbreak by trapping these particles under the occlusive.
  • As for frequency, it is best to listen to your skin. Those with dry skin may benefit from slugging daily, whereas those with oily skin may want to slug a lot less frequently (or not at all). You could also consider slugging only during cold, less humid winter months or slugging parts of the face if you have combination skin. 
  • If you use any type of actives, such as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), or retinoids in your nighttime routine, you would want to avoid slugging. When trapped, these actives can increase their strength beyond what was concentrated by a chemist, leading to unpredictable results and/or irritation to the skin
  • It's a messy business. Consider protecting your pillowcase by placing a towel over it and keeping your hair back in a sleep hat or headband. 

Slugging steps:

  1. Cleanse your skin
  2. Exfoliate (optional)
  3. Smooth on some serum
  4. Apply moisturiser 
  5. Layer on the occlusive
  6. Wake up and wash

Our slugging product recommendations:

The occlusive products used most commonly for slugging (such as Vaseline, Aquaphor and Nivea Creme) contain petrolatum or mineral oil derived ingredients. The debates around the safety and sustainability of using such ingredients are divisive and heated. The good news is, if you'd like to try slugging but have decided to avoid products that include these ingredients, there are natural alternatives. Beeswax and lanolin are examples of natural occlusive ingredients. For those looking for vegan options Jojoba Oil, Carnauba Wax and Candelilla Wax will provide the slug factor. 

Here are our top picks for products that contain alternative occlusives:

Earthsap Unscented Nature's Jelly (suitable for vegans)

This jelly is made from a blend of aloe vera, calendula and canola oils and is enriched with vitamin E all in a base of 100% pure natural wax (which provides the occlusive effect). It has great glide, making application super easy. Shop here.

Bee Natural Rich Rehydrating Face Balm (not suitable for vegans)

Beeswax is used as the occlusive ingredient in this face balm, but as a bonus it contains other skin loving ingredients such as collagen, elastin and Q10 to take your slugging routine to the next level. Available here

Weleda Skin Food (not suitable for vegans)

This multi-purpose and multi-award-winning cream contains lanolin and beeswax as occlusive ingredients making it a good choice for your rich night-time slug. It was been used for over 90 years to nourish dry skin and we can see why! Shop here

We'd love to hear your thoughts on and experiences with slugging as well as answer any follow up questions you may have. Email us

Happy slugging!

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