What Is Slugging? (Here’s a Clean Twist)
Written by: the Editors of goop
Published on: April 26, 2022
Updated on: February 6, 2023
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.
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.
Barrier-Lovinggoop Beauty GOOPGENES Fix and
Restore Balm goop, $125/$112 with subscriptionSHOP NOW
Brightening and CalmingFurtuna Skin Rinascita Delle Olive
Replenishing Balm goop, $225SHOP NOW
Made with Sea Buckthorn, Carrot, and Tomato Seed OilsOkoko Sublime Balm goop, $83SHOP NOW
Plumping and RenewingTamara Dutta Rosehip Smoothie Balm goop, $150SHOP NOW
Ultrasoothing with Blue
Tansy and Chamomilede Mamiel Skin Recovery Concentrate goop, $168SHOP NOW
If you’re not into balms, you can use cream or oil.
Super ThickSurya Balancing
Collagen Cream goop, $195SHOP NOW
Rich, Nourishing OilLe Prunier Plum Beauty Oil goop, $72SHOP NOW
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.
Step 1: Cleanse.MACRENE actives High Performance Cleanser goop, $95SHOP NOW
Step 2: Swipe.goop Beauty GOOPGLOW 15% Glycolic Acid
Overnight Glow Peel goop, $125/$112 with subscriptionSHOP NOW
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 subscriptionSHOP NOW
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.
Exfoliatinggoop Beauty GOOPGLOW Cloudberry
Exfoliating Jelly Cleanser goop, $35/$25 with subscriptionSHOP NOW
MoisturizingTata Harper Nourishing Oil Cleanser goop, $88SHOP NOW
Step 2: Tone.
Clear away any remaining dead skin cells, dirt, or makeup and deposit a first layer of nutrients and hydration.
Step 3: Treat.
Apply a layer of face serum or oil, depending on your skin; it will really sink in after all your exfoliating.
Pure MoistureDr. Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Serum goop, $320SHOP NOW
For Firmer Skin and Fewer Visible Wrinklesgoop Beauty GOOPGENES All-in-One
Super Nutrient Face Oil goop, $98/$89 with subscriptionSHOP NOW
To Restore SkinAugustinus Bader The Serum goop, $390SHOP NOW
Step 4: Add more moisture (only if you need it).
If you (and your skin) really love layering, you can add a moisturizer here.
Hyaluronic AcidAlpyn Beauty PlantGenius Melt Moisturizer goop, $60SHOP NOW
Peptides and BakuchiolBeautycounter Countertime Tetrapeptide
Supreme Cream goop, $98SHOP NOW
Vitamin C and
Kakadu Plumgoop Beauty GOOPGLOW Glow Lotion goop, $58/$52 with subscriptionSHOP NOW
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.