Beauty

What Is Slugging? (Here’s a Clean Twist)

Written by: the Editors of goop

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Published on: April 26, 2022

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Updated on: February 6, 2023

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There’s a K-beauty skin-care trend that’s been blowing up on TikTok that we love in theory—the idea is an extra, occlusive layer that goes on as the last step in a skin-care routine, sealing in all the benefits and delivering additional moisture at the same time. It’s called slugging, and it can be a great technique, particularly when done with a few clean beauty tweaks.

The viral trend involves slathering skin with a thin layer of petroleum jelly as a final step in a nighttime skin-care routine. But while petroleum jelly is moisturizing, this by-product of crude oil production (the jelly is what collects on oil rig machinery) can really clog pores. Unrefined petroleum jelly can contain potentially dangerous contaminants, including a group of carcinogens called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, according to the Environmental Working Group.

The clean version of slugging substitutes rich balms for petroleum-based products. An advantage they have over petroleum jelly (beyond being clean and petrochemical-free) is that they deliver skin-boosting nutrients. For example, moisturizing evening primrose oil, soothing ground cherry extract, calming bisabolol, and barrier-supporting barley and cucumber extracts combine in the new GOOPGENES Fix and Restore Balm, so it goes beyond moisturizing to deeply nourish skin.

  1. goop Beauty GOOPGENES Fix and Restore Balm
    goop Beauty GOOPGENES Fix and Restore Balm goop, $125/$112 with subscription
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What Are the Benefits of Slugging?

Slugging treats skin to multiple layers of moisture, leaving it hydrated, dewy, and baby-smooth. It’s amazing for dry skin, of course, as well as sensitive skin, and for those whose skin barrier is compromised. Using an occlusive product as the final step of your skin-care routine creates a skin-coddling seal of moisture that can help soothe irritated skin, prevent transepidermal water loss, protect, and repair your skin barrier. What to watch out for: If you have oily or acne-prone skin, be mindful of which ingredients you’re layering on first.


The Best Slugging Products: Balms, Creams, and Oils

Slather these on just before bed over any other nighttime skin essentials you swear by. If you have very dry skin, you might do this daily; if you’re normal to oily or prone to breakouts, keep it to every few nights. The most important part: Listen to your skin.

Balms

  1. Nourishing and
    Barrier-Loving

    goop Beauty GOOPGENES Fix and Restore Balm
    goop Beauty GOOPGENES Fix and
    Restore Balm
    goop, $125/$112 with subscription
    SHOP NOW
  2. Brightening and Calming

    Furtuna Skin Rinsascita Delle Olive Replenishing Balm
    Furtuna Skin Rinascita Delle Olive
    Replenishing Balm
    goop, $225
    SHOP NOW
  3. Made with Sea Buckthorn, Carrot, and Tomato Seed Oils

    OKOKO Sublime Balm, goop, $83
    Okoko Sublime Balm goop, $83
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  1. Plumping and Renewing

    Tamara Dutta Rosehip Smoothie Balm, goop, $150
    Tamara Dutta Rosehip Smoothie Balm goop, $150
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  2. Ultrasoothing with Blue
    Tansy and Chamomile

    de Mamiel Skin Recovery Blend, goop, $168
    de Mamiel Skin Recovery Concentrate goop, $168
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If you’re not into balms, you can use cream or oil.

  1. Super Thick

    Surya Balancing Collagen Cream, goop, $185
    Surya Balancing
    Collagen Cream
    goop, $195
    SHOP NOW
  2. Rich, Nourishing Oil

    Le Prunier Plum Beauty Oil, goop, $72
    Le Prunier Plum Beauty Oil goop, $72
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How to Supercharge the Slug

For the dewiest and most luminous-looking skin, exfoliate your face (a lot) before you slug. If you can, start the night before with a 15% glycolic acid overnight peel pad. You’ll notice the glow right away the next morning, but the morning after that—post–ultramoisturizing slugging step—you just will not believe your skin.

The Night Before

Start by cleansing away makeup and dirt—but let your skin dry fully before the exfoliating step.

  1. Step 1: Cleanse.

    MACRENE Actives High Performance Cleanser, goop, $95
    MACRENE actives High Performance Cleanser goop, $95
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  2. Step 2: Swipe.

    goop Beauty GOOPGLOW 15% Glycolic Acid Overnight Glow Peel, goop, $125/$112 with subscription
    goop Beauty GOOPGLOW 15% Glycolic Acid
    Overnight Glow Peel
    goop, $125/$112 with subscription
    SHOP NOW
  3. Optional: If your skin is too sensitive for a peel, exfoliate with Microderm—gentler but absolutely effective—the night before.

    goop Beauty GOOPGLOW Microderm Instant Glow Exfoliator, goop, $125/$112 with subscription
    goop Beauty GOOPGLOW Microderm Instant Glow Exfoliator goop, $125/$112 with subscription
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Slugging Night

After a night of exfoliation, you’re ready for the ultimate hydration. If you’ve got a good routine already, simply top it off with a rich balm or cream. Or customize the routine below.

Step 1: Cleanse.

Get your skin ready for the layers of hydration.

  1. Exfoliating

    goop Beauty GOOPGLOW Cloudberry Exfoliating Jelly Cleanser, $28/$25 with subscription
    goop Beauty GOOPGLOW Cloudberry
    Exfoliating Jelly Cleanser
    goop, $35/$25 with subscription
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  2. Moisturizing

    Tata Harper Nourishing Oil Cleanser, goop, $86
    Tata Harper Nourishing Oil Cleanser goop, $88
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Step 2: Tone.

Clear away any remaining dead skin cells, dirt, or makeup and deposit a first layer of nutrients and hydration.

  1. goop Beauty GOOPGLOW Flower Acids Resurfacing Toner, goop, $45/$40 with subscription
    goop Beauty GOOPGLOW Flower Acids Resurfacing Toner goop, $45/$40 with subscription
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Step 3: Treat.

Apply a layer of face serum or oil, depending on your skin; it will really sink in after all your exfoliating.

  1. Pure Moisture

    Dr. Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Serum, goop, $300
    Dr. Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Serum goop, $320
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  2. For Firmer Skin and Fewer Visible Wrinkles

    goop Beauty GOOPGENES All-in-One Super Nutrient Face Oil, goop, $98/$89 with subscription
    goop Beauty GOOPGENES All-in-One
    Super Nutrient Face Oil
    goop, $98/$89 with subscription
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  3. To Restore Skin

    Augustinus Bader The Serum, goop, $375
    Augustinus Bader The Serum goop, $390
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Step 4: Add more moisture (only if you need it).

If you (and your skin) really love layering, you can add a moisturizer here.

  1. Squalane and
    Hyaluronic Acid

    Alpyn Beauty PlantGenius Melt Moisturizer, goop, $60
    Alpyn Beauty PlantGenius Melt Moisturizer goop, $60
    SHOP NOW
  2. Peptides and Bakuchiol

    Beautycounter Countertime Tetrapeptide Supreme Cream, goop, $98
    Beautycounter Countertime Tetrapeptide
    Supreme Cream
    goop, $98
    SHOP NOW
  3. Vitamin C and
    Kakadu Plum

    goop Beauty GOOPGLOW Glow Lotion, goop, $58/$52 with subscription
    goop Beauty GOOPGLOW Glow Lotion goop, $58/$52 with subscription
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Step 5: Finish with the slug.

Once everything has sunk in properly, seal it all in with a balm, oil,
or cream from the list at the top of this article.