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Nail Slugging May Be the Secret to Your Healthiest Nails Ever

There’s no downside to this viral nail trend.
November 11, 2022

Slugging has made the rounds on TikTok, gracing our skin care routines, our hair care routines and most recently added into the mix — our nail care routines. If you don’t have a set nail routine, you’re not alone but many of us know the benefits of applying cuticle oil, even if you only do it occasionally.

The slugging trend originated in Korean beauty routines and involves slathering your skin, hair or nails with an occlusive like petroleum jelly to create a barrier that locks in moisture. When it comes to your skin care routine, slugging may not be best for everyone, but when it comes to nails, the benefits are plentiful.

We tapped Halle Butler, Essie social media manager and licensed manicurist to get all of her thoughts on TikTok’s latest nail slugging trend. Read on as we share the scoop on nail slugging and its benefits.  

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What is Nail Slugging?

Nail slugging is a two-part process that involves applying cuticle oil to your nails and sealing it with an occlusive like petroleum jelly or hand cream. The combination of the oil and the occlusive locks in moisture and hydrates cuticles, which can result in fewer hang nails and overall healthier nails, according to Butler.

How Do You Nail Slug?

While many of us are familiar with using cuticle oil for an extra dose of hydration, nail slugging’s two-part routine is more effective for long-term hydration. Similar to the way you apply your skin care thinnest to thickest, Butler recommends layering cuticle oil with hand cream or an occlusive like petroleum jelly.

As for when the right time to nail slug is, Butler recommends doing it once a day during your nighttime routine. Applying oil and petroleum jelly to your fingers makes them greasy which is why this is better suited for your nighttime routine versus in the morning. 

With that said, dousing your fingers in petroleum jelly isn’t necessary. Apply a small amount to the tops of your cuticles to condition the surrounding skin while avoiding greasy fingertips.

Another good time to do it is after you’ve removed your acrylic nails, gel extensions, nail polish or gotten a manicure. Acetone is a harsh liquid that can dry out your nails so adding moisture back to your cuticles and nails is a great way to maintain their strength and integrity.

What Are the Benefits of Nail Slugging?

“Nail slugging conditions your cuticles to protect from dryness and provides nourishing moisture to your nails,” Butler says. Whether it’s the change in seasons, excess hand washing or the wear and tear of routine manicures, many of us experience dry cuticles which can lead to brittle, weakened and vulnerable nails.  

In the same way that applying moisturizer is beneficial for all skin types, so is nail slugging. When it comes to acrylic, gel extensions and gel nails, Butler highly recommends slugging. “The stronger your nails are, the stronger your enhancements will be too.” This is especially important because harsher nail services and polishes like the aforementioned gel and acrylic nails tend to be more damaging to your natural nails.

If you have oily nails and experience chipping polish regularly, you may think you have to sit the nail slugging trend out in fear that it will make your oily nail beds even oilier. However, this is not the case. According to Butler, having oily nails is a good thing because that means you have hydrated nails which often leads to healthier nails as well. 

That being said, Butler does advise against slugging right before you paint your nails, “because the oils are what prevent your nail polish from sticking,” and you definitely want to avoid unnecessary chipping.

Instead, Butler recommends cleansing your nails with acetone or rubbing alcohol and buffing the top surface with an emery board to remove the oils before applying polish. The only time you want your nails to be dehydrated is right before you paint them. Ultimately, if your oily nails are properly prepped before you paint them, daily nail slugging shouldn’t have an impact on their lasting abilities.

Next: 15 Glitter Nail Designs That Have Us Swooning

Written by: Reece Andavolgyi, Photographer: Chaunte Vaughn, Art Director: Hannah Packer, Associate Creative Producer: Becca Solovay, Production Assistant: Jason Parigian, Digital Tech: Sam Kang, Photo Assistant: Hannah Lewis-Lopes, Makeup Artist: Jonet Williamson, Hair Stylist: Akihisa Yamaguchi , Wardrobe Stylist: Melina Kemph, Wardrobe Assistant: Kayla Martinez, Prop Stylist: Katrina Rozeville, Prop Assistant: Zach Molina, Model: Avery McMahon

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