Slugging 101: How to Keep Your Skin Extra Moisturized

May 19, 2023
Samantha Holender
By: Samantha Holender | by L'Oréal
Selfie of an editor with long blonde hair and a shiny layer of CeraVe Healing Ointment on her skin

When 12-year-old me walked into the dermatologist’s office with flaky, peeling dry skin, my doctor instructed me to layer petrolatum, aka petroleum jelly, on my entire face. I’ve kept up with the nightly ritual for years. In the past year, the TikTok community has also discovered the hydration-boosting technique, and they’re calling it slugging. To help break down exactly why a thin coating of petrolatum can be good for the skin — and what skin types can benefit from it — I turned to Dr. Morgan Rabach, a board-certified dermatologist at L.M. Medical in New York City.

What Is Slugging?

Depending on your skin type or other things such as environmental factors, your skin may need a little help holding on to its moisture. That’s where slugging comes in. Dr. Rabach explains that slugging is when you coat your face and neck with a small amount of petroleum jelly. “[The petroleum jelly] acts like a sealant to trap moisture and to prevent water loss from the skin,” she says. “The petrolatum acts as a skin barrier and allows the skin beneath to heal and repair itself.”


While slugging can be a daily skincare step as part of your nighttime routine, you can also pull out the petrolatum whenever your skin needs an extra boost of hydration. “You’ll see more hydrated skin the next morning,” says Dr. Rabach. “It’s especially great for plumping fine lines and wrinkles around the eyes.”

How to Incorporate Slugging Into Your Routine

Here’s the good news: You don’t have to alter any part of your skincare routine to try slugging. At night, Dr. Rabach recommends cleansing your face, applying your serums and moisturizers. (If you need a lightweight yet extremely hydrating moisturizer suggestion, we love the L’Oréal Paris Revitalift Line-Plumping Water Cream.)  Then, you seal everything in with a petrolatum-based product, like the CeraVe Healing Ointment.
CeraVe Healing Ointment

Though not petrolatum-based, the Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Advanced Repair Barrier Cream is another occlusive, intensely hydrating cream we love when our skin needs a serious moisture boost. You’ll likely want to skip slugging during the day as it can feel greasy on the skin.

Model holding CeraVe Healing Ointment Product Container

Will Slugging Cause Breakouts?

To decide if slugging is right for you, it’s best to consult with your board-certified dermatologist. “Petrolatum is very safe and hypoallergenic,” says Dr. Rabach. “I would recommend it for all skin types except acne-prone, as petrolatum can block and plug the pores.”

Photographer: Samantha Holender

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