Is Facial Slugging Effective for Your Skin? Our Opinion on This Extreme Trend

As the air dries and temperatures continue to drop, the famous trend from the winter months is making a comeback this year. Facial slugging is popping back up on the radar of skin enthusiasts around the world.

We all know that without proper moisture during colder, drier seasons, your skin suffers.

That’s why facial slugging is praised as a  simple, hydrating practice that can restore moisture overnight.

Sometimes you need to bring in the big guns when dry skin hits. So we’ve compiled a guide on this skin trend for dry skin and extreme moisture. Facial slugging can be a great way to restore + retain moisture during winter. But, there are a few major points (and cautions) you should be aware of first. 

As always, we’re here to help!

Facial Slugging: Let’s Define it

If you’re not familiar with the term, facial slugging has nothing to do with slugs or the concept of drinking a large amount at once. It’s a slang term for one of the most popular skincare trends for resolving dry skin (and keeping moisture locked in).

Facial slugging is the practice of layering a very thick moisture-rich product over your normal skincare routine. 

The thick, occlusive product layered on top works its magic by locking moisture into your skin. This physical barrier prevents water loss or intrusive bacteria from entering your skin overnight. So slugging allows your normal products to fully soak in throughout the night to restore moisture + heal your skin. (It’s usually done at night since your face will look oily/greasy after slugging.

You might be wondering: what makes slugging more effective than simply using a moisturizer?

Well, for starters, slugging is an action, and moisturizer is a product. Moisturizers are products that work to actually rebuild moisture in the skin. Slugging, on the other hand, is an active practice – typically applying an occlusive product that does not soak into the skin. (Our version of slugging is a tiiinnyy bit different, but arguably more effective + nourishing to your skin – more on that soon!)

The purpose of facial slugging is to enhance the benefits of your everyday products – and prevent overnight water loss.

Facial slugging is a pretty simple process. Here’s how it’s done: 

Step 1: At night, after your typical routine, apply a generous portion of the occlusive (aka thick!) balm or skin-specific cream over your serum. 

Step 2: All you have to do is let it work its magic while you sleep! Easy. *It can be done nightly or a few times weekly, depending on your skin's needs. 

Step 3: In the morning, simply splash your skin with water, and finish with a mist and serum.

Seems pretty straightforward, right? But keep reading – there’s more to learn.

What Facial Slugging IS

There are lots of different opinions on facial slugging if you go looking. From a holistic perspective, let’s break down what facial slugging IS.

  • Slugging is an excellent way to restore or rebuild moisture when you need it most. Sometimes it’s hard for your skin to retain moisture properly. Things like internal dehydration, climate, or a compromised skin barrier can play a role in dry skin. Facial slugging helps lock in moisture more than applying moisturizer in a typical fashion.
  • Facial slugging is an esthetician-approved practice. Our holistic esthetician, Courtney, loves this practice for a supportive, extra dose of moisture – as long as it’s done correctly and with the right ingredients (keep reading!).
  • Slugging is beneficial for dry + acne-prone skin. If your skin state is dry yet also acne-prone, the baby balm or clarifying cream layered generously over clarifying serum would be perfect. It'll provide even more healing benefits for inflammation and redness. If you’re acne-prone, definitely stay away from Vaseline.
  • Slugging is compatible with your microbiome (and sensitive skin). When done correctly, facial slugging is a great way to supplement extra moisture – without interfering with your skin’s microbiome. It can also help repair a damaged skin barrier. The physical barrier from slugging gives your skin extra uninterrupted time to heal at night + blocks out harmful bacteria. 
  • Facial slugging is a great way to supplement transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Transepidermal water loss (TEWL) is the water and oil that evaporates from your skin. While some evaporation is normal, excessive evaporation can point to issues in the skin barrier (and function).1 

As your skin ages, you experience more water loss. Other factors that create water loss can be extreme differences in temperature, humidity, or environmental toxins. That’s why facial slugging works to balance the oil and water in your skin.

If flawless, supple, and moisturized skin is your goal (ahem, jello skin), then you’re in the right place. But on the flip side, it’s important to understand what facial slugging is NOT!

What Facial Slugging is NOT

Just as there are appropriate ways to view what slugging IS, there are also certain things it is NOT. We want to be extra clear so you understand the role facial slugging should play in your personalized skincare routine.

  • Slugging is not appropriate for everyone’s skin. If you have oil-rich skin, you’ll want to incorporate something like oil cleansing into your routine before trying slugging. Doing so will teach your skin how to reset oil production. Acne-prone/combo skin may not be well-suited for facial slugging, either. But one thing you can try is "spot-slugging." Like spot treating for breakouts or multi-masking, you can spot treat on dry patches with our clarifying cream which helps rebuild moisture and heal breakouts. Just be sure to start with clean skin, so you don’t trap bacteria under your skin. 
  • Facial slugging is not a daily practice – for most of the year. There might be seasons where it’s appropriate for every day, but similar to double cleansing, for most people, it doesn’t need to be a daily practice. You'll want to observe how your skin is feeling/responding. If it works, you won’t need to do facial slugging every day because your skin will become more moisturized + balanced. And, of course, in warmer months (or humid climates), you’ll likely want to skip slugging altogether. 
  • Slugging is definitely not a fix-all for dry skin. While slugging can help, dry skin can be a complex issue to resolve. There are definitely plenty of ways to naturally relieve dry skin. But at Primally Pure, we believe that skin health is determined by a range of factors like:

This isn’t to say slugging couldn’t be beneficial for your skin – it just needs to be part of a larger plan to care for your skin. 

Understanding these points before slugging is important so that you can use this practice properly + effectively. But there’s one more thing that is essential to know – what you use for facial slugging matters.

Why You Should Never Use Petroleum Oils (Aka Vaseline) for Slugging

This is so important it deserves an entire section! Unfortunately, most articles or skincare professionals you’ll consult on facial slugging will tell you the same thing: Vaseline is a great option for slugging. This couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Petroleum oils are crude oils. Any petroleum derivative (mineral oil, petrolatum, petroleum) will dry out the skin instead of adding moisture. That makes it sound pretty crazy that Vaseline is recommended for slugging, right? 

Heavy products like Vaseline trap excess oil and impurities under your skin, without any breathing room. Suffocating your skin traps unwanted bacteria, which can mess up your microbiome.

On top of that, there are toxicity risks. At Primally Pure, we don’t use mineral oils. Why? They’re not clean, and they’ve even been linked to cancer development.2

It’s worth pointing out: When you find mineral oil in skincare products, they’re said to be highly refined and “safer.” But we can’t back up this claim since we know many “highly-refined” oils are actually dangerous to consume. Like many ingredients in conventional skincare, mineral oil should always be avoided.

The Best Option for Facial Slugging: Rich Creams or Balms

You do need thick, occlusive products for facial slugging, but it’s crucial to find this in safe products. Products like our Skin-Specific Creams or Baby Balm are the best option because they are non-pore-clogging, gentle, and made with clean ingredients that your skin can easily recognize and more readily receive.

Our Baby Balm also contains marshmallow root, which acts like hyaluronic acid to attract moisture to the skin. It’s also boosted with extra virgin olive oil for an extra dose of moisture.

And while these products double as moisturizers, we feel confident that with a generous application, you’ll receive the same (or even better) results. We do things our own way at Primally Pure. ;)

Our Final Thoughts: Slugging Is Safe When Done Correctly

Overall, we love this skincare trend! Moisture is your friend when it comes to all things skin. Without moisture, it’s impossible to achieve plump, firm (and even blemish-free) skin. 

It’s just important to remember the proper context + products in slugging to attain moisture. Facial slugging can be very beneficial for your skin when used responsibly and with the right ingredients as a supplemental layer of moisture. There aren’t many scientific studies yet, but many consumers and estheticians have proven the value this trend holds. 

At the end of the day, you can’t go wrong with an extra dose of our nutrient-rich balms and creams to lock in all the goodness. Your skin will thank you in the morning. 

It’s our honor to help you navigate the confusing skincare world of constant trends and product drops. So what do you think after reading? Will you try slugging this winter? 

P.S. If you’re ready to see if slugging is a good fit for your skin, here’s a shortcut to our most-recommended skincare item for slugging.

  1. National Library of Medicine | Transepidermal Water Loss in Healthy Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis Update
  2.  National Cancer Institute | Mineral Oils: Untreated and Mildly Treated

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Is Facial Slugging Effective for Your Skin? Our Opinion on This Extreme Trend | Primally Pure Skincare

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