What is Slugging?

Tori Douglas

Global Digital

2 min read

Skincare Education

Give this K-beauty skincare technique a go.

What is slugging?

In search of a powerful skincare technique that’ll leave your skin feeling hydrated and revitalized? Slugging is the latest K-beauty trend that promises glass skin overnight–literally. This simple technique involves coating your skin with an occlusive–such as a thick layer of petroleum jelly–to provide a protective barrier against water loss. It's a low-cost and gentle way to get glowing, hydrated skin.

The benefits of slugging

This popular skincare technique involves applying a thick layer of occlusive moisturizer to your face before bedtime to lock in moisture and prevent water loss. It’s known to help increase hydration levels and promote a stronger skin barrier. The term "slug" comes from the slimy texture that the thick layer of product creates on the skin. Gross? Yes. Worth it? Maybe. Possible benefits include:

  • Moisturizes skin: This technique forms a protective layer over your skin that locks in moisture, thus preventing water loss. It can help to keep your skin hydrated and plump, especially during colder months when the air is dry and harsh on your skin.
  • Protects skin barrier: It can also help to strengthen and protect your skin's natural barrier function. The protective layer formed by the occlusive substance helps to shield your skin from environmental aggressors like pollution, dirt, and other irritants.
  • Reduces trans-epidermal water loss: Trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL) is the process of water evaporating from your skin's surface, causing dehydration and dryness. Slugging can help to reduce TEWL, preventing your skin from drying out and becoming dull and flaky.
  • Visibly calms skin irritation: If you have sensitive or irritated skin, slugging can be a game-changer for you. The protective barrier created by slugging helps to soothe and calm inflamed skin—reducing redness and itchiness.
  • Improves the look of fine lines and wrinkles: By moisturizing your skin and preventing water loss, slugging can help to improve the visible signs of aging. Hydrated skin also looks plumper, firmer, and more youthful.

How to slug

Now that we know what it is, let's talk about how to add it to your skincare routine.

  1. Start with a clean face: Use a gentle cleanser to remove any dirt, oil, or makeup.
  2. Apply your regular skincare products: After cleansing, apply your regular skincare products like serums, moisturizers, or treatments (avoid active ingredients). Wait for them to fully absorb into your skin before moving on to the next step.
  3. Apply an occlusive product: After your skincare products have been fully absorbed, it's time to apply an occlusive product. This could be an oil, a thick moisturizer, or a facial balm. Apply a generous amount of product, making sure to cover your entire face.
  4. Let it sit: Now, it's time to let the occlusive product sit on your face. This step is important because it helps to seal in all of the moisture from your other skincare products. Leave the product on your face for a few hours, ideally overnight.
  5. Remove the product: The next morning, use a gentle cleanser to wash your face. This will help to remove any excess product without stripping your skin of its natural oils.

What products should you use?

There are three main skin hydrators: occlusives, humectants, and emollients. Occlusives, the main hydrators used in slugging, create a barrier on your skin to prevent moisture from escaping. These include ingredients like petroleum, lanolin, and mineral oil. Humectants, on the other hand, attract moisture from the environment and hold it in your skin. They can be found in everything from toners to serums, moisturizers, and face masks. Finally, emollients help to smooth and soften your skin. They are typically found in creams and lotions and can help to improve the overall texture of your skin. When preparing to slug, look for products that contain occlusive ingredients like petrolatum, shea butter, or ceramides. These ingredients create a physical barrier on the skin, preventing moisture loss.

Our favorites

Ceramides are occlusive lipids that replenish the fat content in the skin's natural barrier and seal in moisture. Our Black Tea Anti-Aging Ceramide Moisturizer is a high-performance anti-aging cream powered by BT MatrixTM, a naturally derived retinol-like blend* that’s that’s scientifcally proven to visibly smooth wrinkles, firm, and boost radiance.

If your lips are in need of some serious hydration, lather on Sugar Recovery Lip Mask Advanced Therapy before bed to infuse them with shea butter, berry wax, and hyaluronic acid filling spheres. This dermatologist-tested lip treatment restores and conditions lips overnight for a smooth, plump look by morning.

Shea butter is a multi-tasking occlusive that smoothes skin texture while locking in moisture, and vitamin E is the ideal occlusive for dry skin. Using both ingredients, our Lotus Antioxidant Night Moisturizer recovers and resets the skin while minimizing signs of aging for more rested, youthful look by morning.


What skin types is slugging best for?

This technique is especially beneficial for those with dry or dehydrated skin as it delivers intense hydration, leaving it looking plump and glowing in the morning.

How often should you slug?

Slugging is best done at night, before bedtime, as it allows the moisturizer to work its magic while you sleep. For best results, slug one to three times per week, depending on the condition of your skin.

Can it clog your pores?

Slugging is meant to seal in moisture, and if you choose the right products for your skin type and use them correctly, it shouldn't clog your pores. Even so, it's important to pay attention to how your skin reacts to this technique and adjust the frequency accordingly.

What products shouldn’t be combined with slugging?

Avoid using any exfoliants or active ingredients like retinol, AHAs, or BHAs before slugging as it can trap these potent ingredients, force them deeper into your skin and cause irritation.

Wake up feeling fresh

If the idea of slathering your face in petroleum jelly gives you the ick, don't worry. You can still achieve a gorgeous, glowing complexion–and without staining your pillowcase. Instead, reach for our Rose Deep Hydration Sleeping Mask for supple, dewy skin overnight, or our Crème Ancienne White Truffle Overnight Mask for a visibly firm, radiant look by morning. Alternatively, you may want to give skin flooding a try. Whatever your skin type or concern, there's a fresh product just for you.

*ex vivo studies on BT Matrix™ ingredients; this product does not contain retinol

Author Profile
blog author tori

Tori Douglas

Global Digital

Written by Tori Douglas for Fresh. Tori is a NYC-based digital and brand strategist. Tori has worked for various publications and brands such as Kiehl's, The Body Shop, Deux Hommes Magazine, and Elite Daily with her expertise lying in the fashion & beauty space.