Slugging: The Newest Skin Care TikTok Trend
Slugs. They’re fascinating creatures if you’re into the world of insects and those surrounding them. Did you know that they can live up to six years, and grow up to 15 inches? I didn’t find that out until today, and now you have to hear about it, too.
So what do slugs have to do with skin care? When I first heard about this trend, as well as it coming from TikTok of all places, I dreaded the thought of young teens picking up slugs and rubbing them all up and down on their faces. After all, TikTok is the birthplace of some of the wildest trends, dares, and outright bad choices that have graced this planet, so rubbing a slug on one’s face wouldn’t be too shocking to me at this point.
To everyone’s relief, that is not the case, but I’m sure it’s still a trend somewhere in the world. No, the act of “slugging” merely refers to taking an occlusive product, such as Vaseline, and coating your face with it before you fall asleep. You wake up in the morning with a fresh face and ready to start your day. That’s why it’s called “slugging”; your skin is all slippery like a slug’s body. A gross comparison, but an apt one nonetheless.
See, substances like Vaseline are incredibly effective at locking in moisture, meaning that when you wake up, you won’t have to deal with the pain of dry skin. There might be a chance that you’ve heard of it or have even done it yourself, as it’s one of those skin care hacks that isn’t talked about often since Vaseline isn’t marketed for such a thing, usually advertised for cuts and burns.
So where did “slugging” come from? What are the advantages? The disadvantages? Well we’ll get into that right away, because this just might be a trend that stays for the long term, because for one, this is an actual good trend where nobody gets hurt. A rarity, I know.
Origins of Slugging
Hold onto your seats, people, because this is going to be a piece some aren’t prepared for.
Slugging seems to be taken from a post back in 2015 by Reddit user NorthGeorgian on the subreddit r/SkincareAddiction, a small community focused on keeping their skin healthy and clean to the point where it can be considered an addiction. The post in question is titled “I have turned myself into a slug.”
Here is a link to the reddit post.
The post starts off normally, discussing a recent issue with their skin. “So, I’ve been on isotretinoin lately and finally hit the wall of skin dryness.” It’s something we’ve all had to deal with, and their plight can be felt by skin care enthusiasts all around. “I noticed that Vaseline was on sale at our local pharmacy, and ended up buying a couple of jars,” they continued, and if you’re like me, you know where this is going. “I later looked up the primary ingredient (petrolatum) and noticed that it was capable of blocking 99% of water from leaving your skin, which is more than any other moisturizer!”
“Needless to say, I got a bit carried away and now my entire body, save anything below my knees and anything that would touch a chair is now covered in Vaseline.” And thus, the sluggification has arisen, and ushered forth a new era of slippery skin and having to wash your hands for five minutes straight to get all the grease off. However, that is not all he had to say, for our hero left us with one final message, summarizing their experience thusly:
“AND I FEEL FANTASTIC AND BEAUTIFUL”
Fantastic and beautiful is the same way I felt reading that post, and while they may have coined the term, they’re far from the only ones to experiment with Vaseline on their skin. Many users in the comments made the occasional joke, but some did come to agree with the most, saying that they, too, used Vaseline on their own skin. One user commented on how they were using it on their nose, while another detailed the wonders of covering their feet with vaseline, putting socks on, and going to sleep. It’s apparently “Christmas morning for your feet.”
And so, there it is, the apparent origin for one of the biggest TikTok trends as of now. However, that does leave some questions. Is it completely safe? What are the advantages? The disadvantages? All good questions that I aim to answer.
Is Slugging Safe?
Yes, it is completely safe. It’s used to treat cuts and burns, so any contaminants or harmful chemicals would be disastrous to have in a product like this. In fact, it’s so safe, medical experts say you can even use it on babies. Please don’t go around making baby slugs, though. That would be a disastrously slippery time, believe you me.
Even still, I understand why people worry, as petroleum jelly isn’t advertised for facial skin care, and leaving it on all night may be a questionable move for some. You should feel at ease, though, as the waxy substance is completely harmless.
In fact, I got a little curious myself, and it turns out that Vaseline specifically is so non-toxic that the FDA considers it safe for human consumption. Please don’t eat it, though, as I’m sure it doesn’t taste good.
Advantages of Slugging
If you want a trend that actually has a lot going for it, slugging is a rare breed where it seems that the actual application and usage is a net positive, but it’s the practical aftermath that’s a bit questionable. We’ll talk about the disadvantages in a bit, but for now, let’s keep on the positives.
For the advantages, I’m going to bring a big one to the forefront: it’s cheap.
Unlike many skin care moisturizers and creams, petroleum jelly is unbelievably cheap. You can usually get a small jar for under $5. Not to mention, depending on how thick you like to lay it on, a little can go a long way, so to those of you who might be on a bit of a budget, there is that for you to consider.
Another advantage is the fact that petroleum only seals in 99% of moisture. This is why I’m going to suggest that over any other sort of occlusive substance that seals in moisture all the way. One would think you’d want the entire 100% to retain all the moisture in your skin, but that’s not the case. As it turns out, you actually want to have a bit of moisture seep out, as it lets your skin know that it needs to produce more intercellular lipids, and thus repairing the skin barrier. So your skin doesn’t get dry, but is still able to repair itself, which is a win-win if you ask me.
It’s a regular skin care must have, really, as it beats out rather expensive alternatives, as well as being forced to moisturize your skin every morning.
Disadvantages of Slugging
So I’ve just sung the praises of slugging, specifically petrolatum, but what are the disadvantages? Surely it’s too good to be true. There are a few things you should keep in mind, though.
For starters, petrolatum is not comedogenic, which means it does not produce blackheads. However, if you already have acne, you should perhaps reconsider it. While it won’t make your acne worse, it will perhaps make it harder to deal with and make it go away, since everything is being sealed in so tight. So if you have acne, you can go ahead and try it out yourself, but know that it may not be the best option if you’re actively trying to get your pimples to disappear.
Next, we have more practical concerns: sleeping. Going to sleep is easy, but waking up and realizing you’ve stained your pillows and maybe even your sheets is not going to be easy. You’re going to have to find a way to sleep without getting vaseline everywhere, and godspeed to you if you try to attempt it. Of course, you’re free to wash your pillowcases every time they’re dirty with vaseline, but do you really want to do that every morning?
Lastly, there’s one last concern: it’s hard to get off. By god it’s hard to get off. This is due to the fact that occlusives are not water soluble, meaning it doesn’t dissolve or wash away with water. If occlusives can keep water in, it also keeps water out, so you may have to try for a while, and even then, you may still feel a bit greasy here and there. There was a point in washing my own face while it was covered in vaseline where I had finally come to terms with the fact that I would live the rest of my life as a slug.
Thankfully, that was not the case, and while the trend has a few disadvantages under its belt as a useful yet messy trend, it’s overall a net positive for skincare addicts. I recommend using it yourself just to try it and see how it works for your skin.