What is slugging?
Skin Experts

What is slugging?

Slugging is another beauty trend that's become a popular skincare hack on many social media sites. Just because beauty influencers with a ton of followers show you how to do a new beauty technique doesn't mean it's sanctioned by board-certified dermatologists. Luckily, this “TikTok made me try it" skincare technique can be great for dry skin.

So, what is slugging in skincare? Do experts recommend this moisturising skincare trend? And what does it have to do with slugs?

What does slugging mean?

Skin slugging involves applying an occlusive agent — usually petroleum — onto skin at night to provide additional moisturising benefits. The definition of slugging means different things to different people but simply put, when you apply a heavy-duty moisturiser onto the skin at night and get a slimy, slug-like coating (yes, that's where the slugging skin name comes from) you lock in moisture. The thinking is that you'll wake up with soft, dewy, hydrated skin in the morning.

At Clinique, we're all about taking care of your skin by protecting it and strengthening the moisture barrier. And we want you to wake up with healthy, hydrated skin thanks to an evening moisturiser routine.

However, the products you use to replenish skin should be carefully considered. Some people think slugging requires petroleum (or other products with petrolatum) to the skin to seal the skin barrier off and prevent moisture from evaporating from the skin while you sleep.

While this might have hydrating skin benefits for some, this ingredient isn't necessarily suitable for all skincare types—especially those with oily skin that's prone to clogged pore and acne.

The benefits of slugging

Slugging can be an effective solution for anyone curious about how to fix dry skin, promising to enhance the benefits of your regular moisturiser and overall dry skincare routine.

Dry skin happens when the surface of the skin lacks adequate oil and water production. That, combined with a breakdown in the moisture barrier, can interfere with your dermis' ability to maintain proper hydration levels. In fact, our skin's moisture barrier is more permeable at night, which can allow more trans-epidermal water loss — exactly what slugging is designed to minimize. When the skin barrier is sealed off with a moisturiser, it's better able to heal and repair overnight.

That's where slugging comes in. Slugging benefits include:
  • Strengthening the skin's moisture barrier

  • Help restore hydration to the skin

  • Prevent the acceleration of premature aging and more noticeable lines and wrinkles

  • Replenish the balance or oil and water at the surface

How to use slugging in a skincare routine

You may have dry skin for a number of reasons — genetics, environmental causes (like dry heat, extreme weather), air travel, overuse of harsh skincare products — or, it could be because you don't have a skin moisturising practice. All the better reason to strengthen the skin's moisture barrier and lock in hydration that the body loses over the course of the day.

After you wash your face at night, it's important to seal in moisture right away. If you wait to apply moisturiser until the next morning, your skin may get even drier overnight.

At Clinique, our skincare experts' take on face slugging is that they recommend daily hydration that strengthens the moisture barrier to build healthier, better skin. It's also important to prevent dehydration, rehydrate skin, and repair it as soon as you notice the barrier has become compromised.

What does a compromised skin barrier look and/or feel like?
  • Tight skin or taut skin

  • Dry skin

  • Dehydrated skin

  • Redness

  • Flaking

  • Irritated skin

  • Increased sensitivity

And if the above symptoms of dry, irritated skin don't seem to bother you, know that dryness and dehydration can accelerate premature aging and make existing lines look more noticeable.

Now that we have your attention...

Our best products and routine for slugging

Step 1: After cleansing at night, apply our Moisture Surge™ Hydro-Infused Lotion. It not only provides fast-acting moisture, it also improves our skin's ability to hold it, thanks to hyaluronic acid (which helps draw in moisture) and aloe bioferment (which helps your body retain it).

And now is when the magic happens: Coating your skin with a slugging product can help replenish the skin barrier overnight.

Step 2: Apply Moisture Surge™ Overnight Mask (our petrolatum-free take on a slugging product) in an even layer all over the face and neck while skin is still damp from the Hydro-Infusion Lotion. Massage the mask into skin, giving yourself a little TLC and a self-care moment while you prioritize skin health.

This hard-working overnight rich cream contains hydrating panthenol (a.k.a. vitamin B5) to help support skin's barrier and lock in moisture. It results in soft, dewy, glowing skin. The best part? It's recommended for all skin types, it non-acnegenic, and oil free. So even those with oily, sensitive, or acne-prone skin can reap the benefits of slugging when they use this product.

Step 3: Wait a few minutes for the mask to sink in before laying your head on your pillow. Then, go to sleep. This slugging skin regimen nourishes skin and hydrates it while you sleep. There's no need to rinse off the products in the morning. Just enjoy that soft, supple, healthy skin glow.

Skin slugging frequently asked questions

Here are some topics to think about if you're considering a slugging skincare routine to help with dry skin.

Is slugging beneficial for all skin types?
Slugging isn't always recommended by dermatologists and skin care experts for all types of skin. In general, it seems to have the most benefits for those who have dry skin and/or someone with mature skin.

Can slugging cause breakouts?
Face slugging with petroleum products isn't believed to cause acne directly — it's non-comedogenic—but this skincare practice isn't recommended for those with oily skin or acne-prone skin. That's why we recommend slugging with a product that delivers on hydration but is ideal for all skin types, like Moisture Surge™ Overnight Mask.

Will slugging prevent dry skin?
If you're someone who tends to have dry skin naturally or your skin dries out more in the winter months, some variation of slugging could be very beneficial to your skin. Skin dries out where there's a lack of adequate oil and water at the surface, often combined with a breakdown in the skin's moisture barrier. Breaks in the moisture barrier cause skin to lose water and become dehydrated.

Strengthening the moisture barrier benefits the skin by minimizing the trans-epidermal water loss that happens naturally as part of the body process. Applying a moisturizer helps keep the skin barrier intact. All Clinique moisturisers are formulated to strengthen the skin's moisture barrier and replenish hydration and moisture.