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This One Tweak Will Make Your Slugging Method 10x More Effective 

Last updated on August 18, 2022
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Find yourself on skin care TikTok (or "SkinTok," as the savvy scrollers call it), and chances are you'll see more than a few slugging routines on the feed. While the term actually popped up on Reddit's Skincare Addiction thread around 2018, TikTok has taken the K-beauty trend and sprinted at full speed, with more and more videos popping up every day.

If you want to dive deep into the ins and outs of traditional slugging, we covered that before in this full guide. Today, however, we'll be sharing one quick user tip you may not have heard of yet (nor seen on TikTok). Below, experts share how to enhance your slugging method.

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What is slugging?

Before we dive into how to optimize your slugging routine, we'll give you a brief summary of the method. Slugging is a skin care technique rife among K-beauty blogs and skin care forums (and now, TikTok videos) where you slather on a heavy-duty occlusive as the last step of your nighttime routine, usually with Vaseline or another product.

The jelly balm creates a slimy film over your pores so you appear dewy and almost slippery—you know, like a slug. This mucus-like layer seals your skin barrier, helping those with super-thirsty skin lock in hydration overnight (our slugging guide here goes into way more detail, including who should and should not "slug.")  

And look, we're all about sealing the skin barrier before bed, considering the skin is more permeable at night1 and extra vulnerable to water loss. If you have dry skin, it's an A+ technique for intense barrier repair—just take a look at the many, many glowing results. Technically, we are pro-slugging here at mbg: Just know that you don't have to use a petroleum-derived product to achieve the same, glowy results.

The problem with petrolatum.

Petrolatum, by definition, is a gelled mineral oil, which garners some hot debate: Some deem it unsuitable for some skin types; others say it's totally fine. While mineral oil is petrochemical derived, you can find purified, cosmetic-grade options that are theoretically safe to apply on the skin (as opposed to technical-grade options, which are typically used to lubricate car engines).

However, even cosmetic-grade options are not so environmentally friendly, which is enough of a reason to avoid its use: "Mineral oil is petrochemical derived, meaning it's environmentally irresponsible to use mineral oil when there are vegetable and fruit oils, like coconut oil, that are more sustainable," says clean cosmetic chemist Krupa Koestline about the ingredient. On top of that, balms that swap the petrolatum for other occlusives can make your slugging routine even more effective. 

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What to use instead.

Here's the thing—those vegetable and fruit oils Koestline mentioned work quite well for slugging purposes. Take Peach & Lily's Rescue Balm, for example—which calls on sunflower seed oil, castor oil, and plant-based waxes to achieve a thicker consistency. Plus, it includes ceramides and panthenol to help strengthen the lipid barrier, as opposed to just sitting on top of it.

"It's occlusive, but it's not as heavy-duty as Vaseline," Alicia Yoon, celebrity esthetician and founder of Peach & Lily, tells mbg. "It's my modified version of slugging: Over my moisturizer, I melt it into my hands, then slowly roll my palms over my face, just pressing it into my skin." After two or three days with this slugging routine, her skin is left smooth and supple, with zero traces of winter chap. Pipette's Baby Balm is another personal favorite, which includes squalane, jojoba esters, and berry wax for a richly hydrating jelly texture, sans mineral oil. 

The takeaway. 

All that to say: If you typically stay away from petrolatum, you can still find plenty of products that nail that slug-like consistency—and these will often include ingredients to strengthen your skin barrier even further. It's a modified version of the traditional slugging method, but we'd consider it a bonus. Regardless of what product you decide to use, there are a few common slugging mistakes you should avoid if you want to maximize this barrier-supporting method.

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