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photo of a person dipping their finger into a tub of petroleum jelly

Is slugging good for your skin?

Slugging—the skincare trend of applying petroleum jelly all over your face before bedtime—is all the rage these days. This causes the face to look slimy, like the mucus from a slug, which is where slugging gets its name. But is it actually good for your skin?

“The concept of slugging is a new twist on an old remedy,” says Jodi Ganz, M.D., a Piedmont dermatologist. “The No. 1 product I recommend to my patients is Vaseline. It’s an easy way to trap moisture in the skin, it’s cheap and it’s readily available. And, contrary to popular belief, petroleum jelly is noncomedogenic, meaning it doesn’t cause pimples.”

Dr. Ganz says dermatologists have been recommending Vaseline to patients for years. One major benefit is that it’s non-allergenic, meaning there are no known allergies to the product. She says it’s an excellent option for adults, children and babies with dry skin.

How does slugging work?

Slugging works because petroleum jelly acts as an occlusive barrier agent on the skin, allowing the products beneath it to penetrate the skin better. It also locks in moisture and reduces the natural epidermal water loss the skin experiences.

“I often think some of the nicest skin I see is on my older patients who have been putting Vaseline on their skin for years,” she says.

How to add slugging to your skincare routine

To do slugging correctly, Dr. Ganz recommends the following steps for your evening skincare routine:

  • Cleanse your face and pat dry with a clean towel.

  • Apply your moisturizer and any other skincare products you use, such as a serum or eye cream. However, don’t apply petroleum jelly over acne medications or exfoliating acids, as this can cause irritation.

  • Smooth a bean-sized amount of petroleum jelly across your entire face.

“There’s nothing magical about slugging at night, but you want to do it in the evening so you don’t look slimy during the day,” she says.

She also advises covering your pillow with a towel before going to sleep to keep the petroleum jelly from transferring to your pillowcase.

Slugging isn’t a replacement for other skincare products

One thing to keep in mind is that petroleum jelly isn’t a replacement for your other skincare products; it only helps them work better.

“Vaseline is just like plastic wrap over the top of your other products,” says Dr. Ganz. “It keeps those active agents on the skin, but it doesn’t penetrate your skin the way your other products do.”

Should you try slugging if you’re acne-prone?

Dr. Ganz says you can still try slugging if you’re acne-prone, but be sure your skin is thoroughly cleansed. While petroleum jelly won’t cause pimples, it can trap bacteria to your skin, which can worsen acne.

“If you’re worried about breakouts, test a small area of your face first, such as your jawline, to see how you tolerate it,” she says.

Is slugging safe?

“There are so many scary skincare trends that have gone viral,” says Dr. Ganz. “This is one trend that doesn’t scare me. It’s safe, low-risk and inexpensive.”

But, she adds, “Always talk to your dermatologist before starting a new skincare regimen.”

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