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Does slugging help with dry skin?

Does slugging help with dry skin?

An overnight method for skin renewal

Slugs? Hold up—slugging in skincare doesn’t mean using snail excretions on your skin, nor is it a related to the slang word describing bullets, punches, or a state of laziness.

Most popularly done with petroleum jelly, petrolatum or its most famous branded version, Vaseline, slugging is applying a thick layer of occlusive product over the face or body. The occlusive wax or balm forms a seal over the outer layer of the skin, to protect the skin from the environment. At the same time, the sluggy seal prevents water loss, and creates an ideal environment for the skin to repair itself overnight. When the whole ritual is complete, the skin is shiny and a bit slimy, hence the name, slugging.

Why consider slugging

If you have dry skin, dehydrated skin, combination skin or even oily skin, slugging can be an overnight way to get your skin out of imbalance. The mechanism works the same way for all skin types, but with different results. Dry skin stays dry when the skin barrier’s attempts to replenish itself are either interrupted by external conditions, excess exfoliation or cleansing, or internal imbalances. Dehydrated skin lacks moisture. For both these conditions, slugging helps the skin’s overnight work reach maximum efficacy by locking in moisture and helping newly regenerated sebum stay on the face. When it comes to oily patches, slugging’s support for the skin barrier repair helps your skin stop overproduction of the oils that lead to breakouts. The result is clear, smooth skin by morning.

How often should you add slugging to your routine?

It’s a heavy-duty solution, so save slugging for times when your skin needs a serious rescue. This includes post ski-trips, after outdoor camping trips, or following a sun-kissed (but drying) vacation in Greece. Doing it every day can lead to the development of pimples, because frequent slugging starves your skin’s daily opportunity to breathe.

What kind of products can I use for slugging?

Vaseline is most well-known, because it is commonplace and affordable. We recommend slugging with more than petroleum jelly, because of the additional benefits you get when slugging with high-powered plant-based products. Natural wax and oil occlusives do more than seal the skin. They also feed Superfats and Superfoods directly into the epidermis, giving more of a boost. Most notably, a natural, nutritious occlusive will also slowly absorb into your skin at night; leaving you with less risk of accidentally overdoing the slugging and growing a superpimple. If you have sensitive skin, slugging should always be done with a product whose ingredients won’t trigger your skin type, and definitely with a product that is fragrance-free.

How do I add slugging to my routine?

First, make sure that you’re confident with the rest of your routine before adding slugging. While slugging is safe, skin types suffering from acne and blackheads might be at risk of more unexpected results, so stick to treatments that involve chemical exfoliants if you’re wary of aggravating an ongoing breakout. Red, sensitive, puffy skin or skin with eczema or psoriasis can also apply slugging, given that the product you choose doesn’t inflame skin on the mend.

Start with a pea-sized amount of your target occlusive, and work it over the skin until it forms a slightly oily barrier.  Don’t overdo it. Slugging should always the final step of a skincare routine, ideally before bed, and definitely after cleansing. If slugging is done before cleansing, then dirty impurities, residue from the day, or sweat can get trapped between the seal and your skin. This clogs the pores and can ruin the results. Before slugging, you can apply a small amount of water-based moisturizer or hyaluronic acid serum. On your first dry, don’t layer on all the moisturizers you would typically use for a day out, as this can lead to overdoing it—and that nasty superpimple we talked about might make an appearance.

Another word of caution: do not use any active ingredients like retinoids, vitamin C, salicylic acid or similar products before slugging. Since the occlusive seal locks everything in direct contact with the skin, a product formulated for regular effectiveness can turn dangerously potent. Slug on a clean face, or over neutral, gentle moisturizers that are non-comedogenic.

Slugging is an occasional remedy. Before ramping it up into a daily thing, start with once a week, and see if your skin can handle a bit more than before. Jumping into it too enthusiastically may lead to breakouts. When slugging is handled like a daily moisturizer rather than a special treatment, milia can form. Milia are little hard white bumps on the face in random areas, and result from using a moisturizer that’s too heavy.

Plant-based occlusives

Bond | Body Healing Salve is fragrance-free, nourishing, rapidly absorbing, and extremely gentle. All skin types can use it, including those with conditions like psoriasis and eczema. As a slugging alternative to Vaseline, it has the benefit of botanical nourishment. Oat oil gives anti-inflammatory benefits, while calendula supports healing of damaged skin. Kokum and mango butters help create a thick, essential fatty acid-rich layer of protection to depleted skin.


Mandell, J. (2022, April 1). What is slugging and how do you do it? The Washington Post. Retrieved January 19, 2023, from

Penrose, N. (2022, December 22). What is Slugging? The Do's and Don'ts of Slugging—Expert Tips. ELLE. Retrieved January 19, 2023, from

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