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Adding Slugging to Your Skin Care Routine - Say What Now?

Slugging. It’s not a term you’d imagine to be associated with beauty, is it? Maybe more gardening. And yet, it is. Made huge thanks to TikTok, it’s become a popular step in many people’s skincare routine. But what is slugging? And does it actually work? I spoke to skin expert Dr Emmaline Ashley to find out more.

What is slugging?

No, not a punch in the face or something slimy you’d see feasting on plants, slugging is actually the final step in many people’s nighttime skincare routine. So, you cleanse, you tone, you moisturise and maybe add a serum, and then…you whack a slather of petroleum jelly (Vaseline) all over your face. Why would you do that, I hear you ask! Well, the idea is to lock in moisture, and Vaseline is said to be a great way to do this.

Dr Emmaline, founder of Ashley Aesthetics explains, “slugging takes the concept of wearing an overnight mask a step further by coating your face in petroleum jelly and creating an occlusive cover. The idea is to lock in moisturising products you’ve used and prevent any water loss or evaporation from your skin barrier overnight.”

Does slugging block pores?

Ok, well that bit sounds good. I like the idea of locking in moisture, giving lovely soft, dewy skin - even if the way to get there sounds a bit strange. But I can’t be the only one to wonder ‘does slugging clog pores?’

Well, according to Dr Emmaline, “slugging doesn’t actively clog pores, but if you already have skin congestion and some clogging and haven’t really cleaned and exfoliated your skin, putting a heavy duty occlusive over the top of it is only going to make skin worse!”

So, the key takeaway there is to make sure your skin is properly cleansed and exfoliated first if you are thinking of trying slugging.

Does slugging help with acne?

There will be tonnes of people out there with acne-prone skin wondering whether slugging can get rid of acne or whether it will make it worse, and that’s a great question.

Acne can make skincare tricky if you don’t know how to manage it, leaving people with acne questioning what products they should and shouldn’t use in order to improve it, or, at the very least, not exacerbate acne flare ups. Dr Emmaline explains, “anything occlusive is not going to be great for acne-prone skin. Remember, our skin is meant to be able to breathe and some transepidermal water loss is normal.

Ok, so slugging is not great for those with acne. If you have acne and are wondering how to best look after your skin, we have a great article here. And we have thousands of healthcare professionals listed on Glowday who know all about treating acne-prone skin, so don’t forget to check them out.

Can slugging help rosacea?

Rosacea is a long-term inflammatory skin condition that causes redness, visible blood vessels and, often, bumps that can get worse over time.

If you have rosacea, you’ll likely know the importance of a great hydrating moisturiser. But what about when we bring petroleum jelly into the equation? Does slugging help rosacea?

Dr Emmaline says, “although, in theory, it seems like slugging would be great for people with impaired skin barriers (as in rosacea), there is nothing inherent in the practice that would lead to aiding skin barrier repair as far as I’m aware.”

So, if you have rosacea and are considering trying slugging, it could just be a waste of a step in your nighttime skincare routine. Instead, you’d be better off checking out Rosacea Dos and Don’ts, and concentrating your efforts on things that actually will work for your skin.

Can slugging prevent wrinkles?

Another thing that many claim slugging helps with is keeping wrinkles at bay. So, can slugging really prevent wrinkles or is this something that we should leave to the big guns - i.e. certain active ingredients?

Well, for Dr Emmaline, it’s the latter. She says, “there’s no evidence that I am aware of that slugging prevents wrinkles. If you want to use something that we know will improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, opt for investing in a consistent basic skincare routine with a retinoid.”

And obviously, if you’re looking to really tackle those lines and wrinkles, an anti-wrinkle treatment like Botox is another option. This can minimise the appearance of wrinkles for around three to four months, depending on the individual.

So, is slugging worth it?

Look, there are so many different skincare trends out there, it’s hard to keep track, but as long as they don’t cause harm and you’re curious, there’s no issue with trying them. But does it sound like there’s a whole lot of medical evidence for great skin behind slugging? Um no.

Dr Emmaline believes, “maybe if you have a very damaged skin barrier with dry skin, occasionally doing this is not likely to cause you any harm. But I’m wary of following skincare TikTok trends where it’s more about creating a viral concept (like looking like a slug) than being thoughtful about rehydrating the skin.

The bottom line is I am not sold that anything is being achieved with slugging that couldn’t be achieved in a much simpler (and less messy) way with a decent skincare routine!”

Agreed! If you want great skin, the key is to drink plenty of water and follow a good skincare routine with ingredients that are right for your skin. We’re all different, and trends like slugging are not a one size fits all. So, my advice? Do your research and speak to a healthcare practitioner who will be able to advise you on what ingredients and products to use or not use in order to make your skin glow. We list thousands on Glowday, so you could be just a couple of clicks away from amazing skin. And not a slug in sight.


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