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CeraVe Skin Smarts Skincare Tips Advice What Is Slugging


Trying the latest skin trends can be pretty intimidating, not to mention demanding on your wallet, and often, your skin. However, there’s one recent trend that stands out among the rest as a skincare technique that’s both simple to understand and easy to incorporate into your routine: It’s called “slugging.” The technique involves applying an occlusive ointment—such as CeraVe Healing Ointment—as the last step in your nighttime moisturizing routine. It’s believed that slugging can help reveal smoother, softer-feeling “glass skin” that appears plump and hydrated. To help you better understand whether or not slugging skincare is right for you and how to do it correctly, we’re explaining the facts of this viral skincare trend below—along with an easy-to-follow slugging guide.

Facts About Slugging in Skincare

  • “Slugging” is a well-known moisturizing technique that involves slathering the face with an occlusive product as the last step in your evening skincare routine.
  • This skincare trend gets its name from the “slug-like” sheen it leaves on your skin after applying your slugging product of choice.
  • Slugging is usually done with a petrolatum-based occlusive, such as CeraVe Healing Ointment.
  • Occlusives used for slugging create a physical seal over the skin that traps in moisture and prevents transepidermal water loss. The goal is to promote fresh-looking skin that appears plump and hydrated.
  • Slugging is generally considered ideal for those with dry skin. It may not be suitable for acne-prone skin or for individuals prone to blemishes. Seek the help of a board-certified dermatologist for any questions regarding whether or not slugging is right for you.


What Is Slugging Skincare?

The slugging skincare trend involves slathering on an occlusive—like petrolatum (also known as petroleum jelly)—onto your face as the last step in your evening moisturizing routine. The term “slugging” is often attributed to K-beauty (Korean beauty) skincare trends, but the ritual itself can be traced back decades, with roots in the Black community. Slugging gets its name from the shiny sheen it leaves on your face—just like that of a slug. The goal of face slugging is to promote dewy, fresh, and young-looking skin that appears plump and hydrated.


How Does Slugging Work in Skincare?

Occlusives, like petrolatum, are a type of moisturizer composed of oils and waxes. They work by creating a barrier on top of your skin, sealing in moisture and preventing transepidermal water loss. Research suggests that petrolatum-based moisturizers—like CeraVe Healing Ointment—are the most effective occlusives, helping to reduce water loss through your epidermis by almost 99%.1 


In other words, occlusives used in slugging help create an impermeable wall that seals your skin barrier off. They help support skin barrier repair and keep moisture from evaporating off your skin while you sleep. The theory behind slugging is that applying an occlusive on your face before bed will lock in not only moisture, but also any beneficial skincare products you applied leading up to your “slug” (making them even more potent as a result).


Can All Skin Types Try Slugging?

Petrolatum—the primary ingredient in products used for slugging—is non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog pores, and is classified as a skin protectant by the FDA.3 It has many uses, such as soothing dry skin on the eyelids or lips, and is often used as a skin protectant in baby healing ointments for the management of diaper rash and baby eczema.


However, this doesn’t mean that slugging is necessarily suited for all skin types. According to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), it’s best to avoid putting petrolatum-based products (like petroleum jelly) on your face if you have blemish-prone skin, since they may trigger breakouts in some people.2


On the other hand, slugging may be especially useful for dry skin, flaky skin, or skin prone to cracking and chafing. If you’re having trouble deciding whether or not slugging may be beneficial for your skin type, consult with a board-certified dermatologist for the best personalized advice.


When Should I Use Face Slugging?

One of the major slugging skincare benefits is how straightforward and easy it is to add to your existing skincare regimen. All that’s required is to apply your face slugging product at the end of your usual nighttime skincare routine, after all other steps have been completed—including your cleanser, toner, eye cream, serum, and face moisturizer.


The products applied before your “slug” should be formulated with gentle, hydrating ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid or ceramides. Formulas with active ingredients should generally be avoided before slugging, in order to avoid any irritation or unwanted side effects from “sealing in” these actives overnight. This includes active ingredients such as retinol, beta-hydroxy acids (like salicylic acid), and alpha-hydroxy acids (like lactic acid and glycolic acid). 


How Often Should I Use the Slugging Skincare Method?

Slugging is typically done at night, to allow the slugging product to work its magic uninterrupted while you sleep. As far as how often you should use this technique, this will depend on your individual skin type and complexion concerns. For most skin types, completely sealing your skin barrier every night isn’t necessary or even recommended—meaning you may want to alternate slugging days with some “non-slug” days.


However, there may be some exceptions where you might consider slugging daily for a certain time period, such as during the very dry, cold winter months when your skin is more prone to losing moisture. Understanding your skin type is key, so listen to your skin when implementing the slugging skincare technique. When in doubt, always consult with a board-certified dermatologist.


What Is Body Slugging?

Fortunately, the benefits of slugging aren’t reserved only for your face. This same concept can also be applied to the skin on your body year-round to help lock in moisture on dry areas—especially your hands, feet, elbows, and knees. To help support deeply hydrated skin on your body using this method, follow the same steps as you would with face slugging—but instead, apply your petrolatum-based product post-shower after your usual body moisturizer.


Other popular areas for “body slugging” include the neck, chest area, and even your cuticles. For ultra-dry feet in the winter, you can also try applying ointment to your feet after moisturizing and heading to bed with a soft pair of socks for the ultimate “foot slug.”


Slugging With CeraVe Healing Ointment

CeraVe Healing Ointment features three essential ceramides and hyaluronic acid in a moisturizing base to temporarily protect, soothe, and hydrate dry skin. This ointment makes an excellent non-comedogenic option for your slugging routine to help lock in moisture throughout the night, without clogging pores. It’s lightweight, intensely hydrating, suitable for all skin types, and free of fragrance, dyes, and lanolin (to minimize the risk of irritation from these ingredients). CeraVe Healing Ointment works to help prevent water loss and alleviate winter dryness by adding an extra layer of protection against drying winter conditions.


To begin your “slug” with CeraVe Healing Ointment, we recommend applying some of the product onto your fingertips first, then applying an even layer onto your skin—focusing on areas of dryness. CeraVe Healing Ointment can be applied before bed to enhance your skin’s natural moisture barrier function for up to eight hours. It locks in moisture while you sleep for hydration that lasts up to 24 hours.


Slugging Tip: To avoid any excess messiness while trying face slugging, you might want to consider tying your hair back or using a sleep headband. Lastly, allow your slugging product to sit for a few minutes before hitting the hay to avoid staining or making a mess of your pillowcase (especially if it’s a silk or satin pillowcase).


For more of the latest skincare trends and advice to help you build the perfect regimen for your skin type, check out our expert tips for including toner in your skincare routine.


    1. Harwood A, Nassereddin A, Krishnamurthy K. Moisturizers. [Updated 2021 Jun 2]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan.
    2. 5 Ways to Use Petroleum Jelly for Skin Care.” American Academy of Dermatology Association, Everyday Care, 2022.

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