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All about slugging: A dermatologist on the latest K-Beauty trend that involves slathering your face in Vaseline

All about slugging: A dermatologist on the latest K-Beauty trend that involves slathering your face in Vaseline

Slug it out

Text: Azrin Tan


Image: Instagram | @cosrx
Image: Instagram | @mintymomentss

Is the slug life for you? And no, we don't mean being a couch potato and bingeing out on Netflix all day (though we definitely wouldn't mind that). In the beauty world — or at least, K-beauty land, as of late —slugging is a skincare trend where people would slather Vaseline or petroleum jelly all over their visages and leave it on overnight. Whilst it might sound a tad strange, the trend is essentially an extra step of one's skincare regime that is supposedly meant to help lock moisture in. But here's the deal: how do we know if it's actually safe or effective for our complexion?

Considering the endless bottles of skincare that we purchase on the regular to keep our countenances in tiptop condition, it seems a little jarring for Vaseline to have all the answers we ever needed to that soft, dewy dolphin skin glow, don't you think? And so, we decided to turn to an expert for advice. From how Vaseline actually works to its functionality in our climate, we delve deeper into the slugging trend with Dr Stephanie Ho, an accredited dermatologist and founder of Stephanie Ho Dermatology. Here's what she had to say:

Do you think slugging is effective from a dermatologist's perspective?

Yes, slugging is an effective manner of improving the hydration of one's skin and improving one's skin barrier. To put it simply, it is a means of locking moisture in the skin by applying an occlusive last layer before bedtime.

What makes 'slugging' so effective? How does it work?

Vaseline contains 100% petroleum jelly, which is essentially a blend of mineral oils and waxes. It forms a rich occlusive layer when it is applied on the skin, thus working as an effective skin barrier that helps to keep the moisture in. When the Vaseline literally sits on the top of the skin, the occlusive layer it forms hence prevents evaporation of moisture from the superficial skin layers. It therefore helps to reduce transepidermal water loss — that is, the loss of moisture from the outer layers of one's skin.

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So, is it safe and suitable for all skin types?

Applying Vaseline on our faces is safe for individuals with dehydrated skin, or when we are in a cold and dry climate. However, if you are already troubled by oily, acne-prone skin, slugging could potentially worsen your acne condition. Especially in cases of infected skin conditions, applying Vaseline actually has the potential of exacerbating the infection. Surprisingly, however, Vaseline is suitable for those with sensitive skin types. I have patients suffering from eczema who often do use Vaseline or paraffin based products to improve the hydration of their skin. The TL;DR of it? Slug only if you have normal, dry or certain types of sensitive skin, but avoid trying it if you have oily or acne-prone skin.

What else should people take into consideration if they want to consider slugging?

Climate

Whilst it is definitely a good hydrating agent for dry skin individuals or for people living in colder climates, it is probably something that will feel quite sticky and uncomfortable in a hot and humid climate like Singapore's. Most people living here will not require slugging as part of their skincare regime as they may find it too oily, unless used under air-conditioned settings.

Frequency

How often one should slug depends on the condition one is trying to treat. If the skin is not too dry, a nightly application will do. If the skin is extremely dry however, one can consider slugging every hour or two — and even applying adding wet wraps or cold compresses over it to keep their face moist.

The takeaway

So to slug or not to slug? At the end of the day, it ultimately depends on each individual's skin type, and their skin condition; for older individuals with dry skin or individuals with irritated, sensitive skin, it's definitely slated to be an excellent adjunct to their usual skincare routine, especially considering its affordable price. For oily, acne-prone skin? Skip the slug, we say.