TikTok beauty trends remain on an upward trajectory in 2022, with an exponential number of products, techniques and practices going viral over the past few months. On the hair front, there was heatless rods and ribbons, which was further buoyed by an appearance in breakthrough HBO drama, Euphoria. Then there was the heart highlight trick popularised by South Africa-based creator, Kutlwano Pride Sekgale, which spawned thousands of response videos alongside creative reinterpretations. As for skincare, the talk of the town proves to be skin slugging—the act of slathering your mien in petroleum jelly or more moisturising products before going to bed.
Its conception adheres to the growing need for complexion reparative products; a likely response to the saturation of overly-harsh exfoliating products and acids in the market that, when mis-used, leads to a compromised moisture barrier. The solution: rich, nourishing goods designed to get skin healed and back on track—of which, includes engaging in skin slugging to ensure that the moisture applied onto your face is better retained.
@edwardzo TikTok made me try it: Slugging (w/ @cetaphilusa’s new healing ointment) 🐌 #skincare101 #skintok #slugging #skinbarrier #cetaphil #cetaphilpartner ♬ original sound – EdwardZO
And while skin slugging lacks the complexity and technicalities of other TikTok trends, it does, however, raise more questions in the vein of its suitability for those living in tropical climates. Is coating your face in goopy, thick formulas a good idea seeing how Singapore’s humidity alone is enough to blanket your visage in oil? Is this practice best suited for those with parched complexions only? We got Dr Rachel Ho, Medical Director of La Clinic, to weigh in, where she answers all our burning questions surrounding skin slugging. Get clued in, below.
What is skin slugging, exactly?
“Skin slugging is a step in skincare where an occlusive product such as Vaseline is applied to the face overnight,” Dr Ho elucidates. “This popular trend on Tiktok is said to leave the user’s skin feeling moisturised and plump after a single night of use. However, it should be noted that the concept of using occlusive products is not new in dermatology—wet wrap therapy for eczema serves as a prime example.”
Are there any actual complexion benefits of skin slugging, particularly if you’re residing somewhere with a tropical climate?
As stated by numerous TikTok users, slugging with an occlusive does help reduce trans-epidermal water loss from the skin and seal moisture in effectively. “The occlusive effect of slugging can also improve percutaneous uptake of skincare, so users may experience improved efficacy of their skincare products,” Dr Ho reports. “With that being said, I would not recommend slugging in Singapore due to our humidity. It can worsen oiliness and acne, as slugging essentially traps excess sebum and can seal dirt into pores. Individuals with extremely dry skin, however, can attempt it.”
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How do you slug your skin properly?
That’s not much to it. First things first: start with a clean face. After cleansing, it is recommended you go about your routine normally, followed by applying a coat of moisturiser to seal in your hard work. Once that’s done, layer a thick layer of occlusive over it and leave it on overnight.
What is the frequency of which you should be slugging?
“I suggest starting once a week at night, and then assessing how your skin responds. If you find that your skin is better moisturised without any side effects, you can increase your frequency to twice a week,” Dr Ho instructs.
Are there any specific skincare products you should avoid when slugging?
The general consensus is that it is safer to avoid active ingredients such as retinoids and acids (AHAs and BHAs) whilst engaging in slugging, as the occlusive effect of slugging could intensify the effects associated with these ingredients. Think irritation, sensitivity and the like.
What are the moisturising products recommended for slugging?
According to Dr Ho, it is best to utilise a humectant that moisturises the skin on top of slugging for more complete moisturising effect. “Vaseline or creams that are rich in petroleum or oil are a good bet,” she assures. “I also recommend wearing a hair band to keep hair out of the way when slugging—because it could cause hair to stick to your face.”
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