It’s 2022, and it’s safe to say the rise of “skinfluencers” has skyrocketed. It’s not absurd to hear the bulk of people say they impulse bought their skincare routine off TikTok, and it’s actually becoming the new norm. Now, this begs the question…which of these trends are safe to try? Which should you ditch? Today, we’ve decided to take on the internet’s latest skincare craze, slugging. Here’s the inside scoop from our very own skin experts at Alamo Heights Dermatology.
Note: We’ve decided to use a rating scale to represent the glow-up potential of the trend. For example: “This trend was rated a 3 out of 5 for glow-up potential.”
So, our first popular trend that’s taking over TikTok and Instagram is slugging. Can you explain a little about what slugging is for our readers and the potential benefits?
Alamo Team: Slugging is the act of applying petrolatum or another heavy emollient on top of another moisturizer. The primary benefit is improving skin barrier function (reducing trans-epidermal water loss), so skin is less dry and more radiant (i.e., more youthful, plump appearance). It can also help individuals tolerate topical retinoids better.
Is there a specific brand of product used, or can you grab the Vaseline out of your cabinet?
Alamo Team: Vaseline is actually totally acceptable. Studies have shown petroleum jelly to be non-comedogenic (meaning not pore-clogging/won’t cause acne). If it is greater than 30% petrolatum, that means it has been regulated by the FDA and shown to be safe for topical use, even on babies. So even a generic 100% petrolatum you find in the grocery store aisle would be a good, safe, and very inexpensive option. Try to look for options with no inactive ingredients, such as fragrance, since those are often the culprit for sensitivities. The baby aisle is a good place to find inexpensive 100% petrolatum.
Are there any skin conditions or types that would not benefit from this?
Alamo Team: Although petrolatum is inherently non-comedogenic, applying it to the skin does risk trapping dirt, oil, and other impurities beneath it, which can trigger acne breakouts. However, in acne patients this struggle with dryness from their topical medications, a skincare routine to improve barrier function and reduce trans-epidermal water loss can be very beneficial. We recommend making sure your face and hands are clean when applying it, but some acne-prone and oily-prone patients may still not be able to tolerate it.
If a patient is considering slugging, what advice would you give them on working it into their daily skincare routine (frequency, should they add it to the morning or night routine, duration to leave the product on, etc.)?
Alamo Team: Slugging can be especially beneficial for the skin around the eyes and directly on the lips. Treating that skin nightly can be an easy place to start. For very dry or “winter” skin, we recommend a thick barrier cream at night and a trial of slugging overnight. After just a single overnight treatment, you’ll probably notice softer, dewier-looking skin. But it can also be applied during the day for another boost of hydration if your skin is especially dry, sensitive, or reactive. Depending on individual results, some patients may benefit from regular use.
Is this something you would ultimately recommend to your patients? Why or why not?
Alamo Team: We would recommend slugging to very dry patients or people with difficulty using topical retinoids. Petroleum jelly is cheap and very effective as a barrier cream. Patients with more oily skin (who really never feel or look dry) or those who feel thick products exacerbate acne should avoid this trend.
What would you rate this skincare trend on the glow-up potential scale?
Alamo Team: 3.5
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