Why derms don't recommend you jump on the 'slugging' beauty trend

There's a backlash to the TikTok trend

Young female applying glossy make-up - stock photo
(Image credit: Jonathan Knowles/Getty Images)

It doesn't sound particularly sexy and you'd be right. For the uninitiated, 'slugging' is a Korean skincare trend that involves covering the entire face in a thick layer of petroleum jelly (or Vaseline) before bed. Now Beauty influencers on TikTok and Reddit have jumped on the trend as a solution to moisture-starved skin in winter. 

Why petroleum jelly? Due to the texture and molecular structure, petroleum jelly can only sit on the surface layer of your face where, theoretically, it can prevent moisture from leaking out of the skin barrier. 

But now you've found out what is slugging it's time you knew the truth about the trend. Namely, that the benefits are short-lived and could do more harm than good , especially if your skin is prone to acne and rosacea. 

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Skin experts also claim that continued 'slugging' causes bacteria to become trapped in pores over time. What's more, petroleum jelly isn't actually a moisturizer, it just adds an occlusive layer to the rest of your skincare routine, which poses another set of problems, according to celebrity aesthetician Dr Barbara Sturm.

"Very rich products will sit on the skin’s surface and make it sweat underneath, clogging the pores and causing breakouts and irritation," she warns.

Sturm cites ingredients like urea and hyaluronic acid as better options for dry skin as they draw moisture to cells rather than overload them.

Apparently, you also want your skin to experience a tiny degree of water loss as it tells your skin to produce more lipids and to self-repair its skin barrier. If you fully block your skin, when you remove an occlusive agent like petroleum jelly, your skin becomes lazy.

That and the fact that you look like you've dunked your face in a vat of Crisco.


Fiona Embleton is a beauty writer who is now Acting Beauty Editor at Stylist. She is obsessed with Isabel Marant and cats.