I only buy Vaseline when my skin looks like it’s been through the shredder, and that’s how I started slugging. After a no good, very bad cold, my nose and mouth were dry and chapped to tatters, but my go-to lip balm had been contaminated with sick-kid germs, so I’d tossed it. Left only with a tub of petroleum jelly (aka Vaseline), I started Googling how it could help my cause and wound up on a Reddit thread all about “slugging.”
Slugging is a K-beauty practice that simply means layering on the (notoriously thick) moisturizer overtop your entire skin-care routine. Vaseline has been around for 100 (I repeat: 100!) years, so while “slugging” itself is a new-ish concept, for all intents and purposes, people been doing this for years—even dermatologists. “I’m obsessed with using Vaseline as a facial moisturizer,” says board certified dermatologist Mona Gohara, MD. While Dr. Gohara doesn’t slug (or apply it quite thickly all over the skin), she does apply it every day. “I use it morning and night, but I don’t slug. I just use small amounts to repair my skin barrier. In small amounts, it rejuvenates and hydrates the skin to help it glow.”
Now the fine print: If you have dry skin, slugging is great because it creates an occlusive (locked-tight) barrier that traps other skin-care ingredients within the skin. Using it in large amounts (as with any skin-care ingredient), however, isn’t advisable. Research from the Journal of Cosmetic Science shows that, while petroleum jelly is non-comedogenic (meaning that it won’t clog pores or cause acne), because it’s occlusive, if your face has dirt or grime on it, it can trap bad bacteria within your complexion, making any breakouts worse. “It may may be too occlusive for those with rosacea or acne,” says Dr. Gohara. If you’re someone who is absolutely chomping at the bit to try slugging, she suggests passing on the PJ, and opting instead for a moisturizer with ceramides in it, which can achieve a similar effect, minus the irritation.
Armed with my $4 tub, and determined to stick with a skin-care routine, I washed my face with Cetaphil, slathered on a serum, then a moisturizer, and topped it all with Vaseline. Following my first round of slugging, I was happy to see that there was a gleam in my cheeks that I wasn’t used to seeing. Could my skin be… hydrated? Eager to see if more was, in fact, more, I layered on a little before bed and awoke to find that my skin was increasingly cherubic and velvety.
Every day, these results progressed, until after a week, I spotted an almost imperceptible zit right beneath my jawline. While I love the overall results of slugging and would continue on forever and ever, I am cautious since I have finicky skin. There’s no doubt that I’m on Team Vaseline, but the greatest realization of all was that, even if you’re a little sluggish about your skin care, you can still benefit from slathering on the old school gel, because when it comes to slugging less is more.
Speaking of a Dr. Gohara’s routine, here it is, in full:
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