TikTok’s Newest Fascination is With ‘Slugging’ – But What Is It?

The derms weigh in on TikTok's latest beauty craze.

TikTok: @dermguru, @EdwardZO, @lenamaiah, Grazia

by Phoebe Lee |

Some might argue that TikTok is not the place for valuable beauty advice. And yes, they're half right: it is often filled with bonkers beauty trends that garner millions and squillions of views (like SPF contouring - don't do it, unless you want an increased risk of skin cancer). However, it's also home to an impressive roster of dermatologists that seek to debunk these downright dangerous skincare trends, time and time again. Dermatologists, saving Gen Z's skin, one video at a time...

The latest skin trend to have Gen Z in a chokehold? Slugging. And, unsurprisingly, derms have a lot to say on the topic. Curious to know what it is, or whether TikTok's latest craze actually holds some weight? Here, the lowdown.

What is slugging?

Good question. It's a term that cropped up in around 2017/2018 on Reddit's Skincare Addiction subreddit, and is thought to have originated in South Korea (where they're mostly always one - or, 7 - steps ahead with their skincare advice). Essentially, it involves coating your entire face in a thick occlusive like Vaseline before bed as the last step in your routine.

Using it as the last step in your routine is the most important part. The aim is to reduce TEWL (that's trans-epidermal water loss, which in short is the process whereby hydration is lost from the skin). Load up your skin with hydrating serums, mists, and moisturisers; the occlusive nature of Vaseline acts as a 'seal', locking all of that moisture in. Aesthetician and facialist Debbie Thomas is keen to reiterate that slugging won't add moisture - rather, create an airtight seal to stop losing it. It gives skin a chance to repair and recuperate, according to Thomas.

As for the name of this method? Well, picture handfuls of Vaseline on your face, and you catch the drift...

Is slugging good for the skin?

Plenty of dermatologists and skincare experts attest that for some skin (particularly drier) types, it can be a beneficial treatment to occasionally retain moisture. Debbie Thomas only recommends this method to clients with dry, flaky skin - especially if you're experiencing this after an intense facial treatment, or reaction to a new skincare product.

"If you're prone to acne, this would be a very, very occasional add-in,' says Thomas. 'For others, I'd use it no more than you need to (only when your skin feels particularly compromised). If you've overdone it when your active ingredients (e.g., too much retinol) and your skin is burning even with a simple moisturiser, 'slugging' for a few days could help." Below, Dr. Vanita Rattan and Dr. Loretta Ciraldo also weigh in:

What should I use to slug?

Before you slug, Debbie Thomas recommends you get your daily hydration from ceramides; they support your skin's natural barrier, which, when they're working effectively, will stop excess TEWL (trans-epidermal water loss - AKA dryness).

To slug, any occlusive product like Vaseline or Eucerin's Aquaphor will work effectively. Remember, don't relegate this to your face only - try your lips and drier body parts (like knees and elbows) too. The key to effectively slugging lies in adequate prep: in this instance, layering your skincare with lightweight hydrators.

You can shop all you need start slugging, below. And don't use your fanciest pillowcase when doing this: it will leave a particularly, erm, sluggy residue.

Shop: Everything You Need To Slug


SHOP: The 'Slugging' Essentials

Vaseline Original Petroleum Jelly, £2.99
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Eucerin Aquaphor Skin Soothing Gel Balm, £9.99
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This is more lightweight than Vaseline, but still is still an occlusive so will work to retain moisture.

Main image credit: TikTok @dermguru, @EdwardZO, @lenamaiah

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