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Beauty Myth Busters: Skin Slugging Can Prevent Wrinkles

A board-certified dermatologist weighs in on whether slugging has anti-wrinkle benefits.
January 16, 2023


While the thought of putting an occlusive moisturizer on your face may seem like the last thing anyone would want to do in the summer, as soon as the cold weather months roll around, slugging seems to become everyone's BFF once again. The trend gains popularity in the fall and winter, with pro-slugging videos flooding our timelines for weeks on end — but does slugging actually do everything we think it does?

Hungry for answers about whether slugging has the anti-wrinkle benefits some influencers are touting, we turned to Dr. Michelle Henry, board-certified dermatologist and L’Oréal Paris consultant to get the 4-1-1 on whether or not skin slugging has any benefits when it comes to improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

What Is Slugging?

Before we get to the million-dollar skin care industry question at hand, let’s start with a refresher on slugging. In case you missed it, slugging is the act of slathering your face in a layer of petroleum jelly or a similar occlusive as the last step of your nighttime skin care routine

While the trend became a major K-beauty staple, it’s been popular in many communities for generations. The trend got its slimy-sounding name after many beauty lovers said that the thick texture of petroleum jelly (or whatever occlusive you use) reminded them of the mucus of a slug. However bizarre sounding, the technique does have benefits, Henry confirms.

“Petroleum jelly is a really great occlusive agent, so if you're putting it on top of your skin care, it's going to help increase absorption and penetration,” she explains. “If you're putting it on top of your moisturizer, it's going to help lock in moisture and really hydrate your skin. It does work and it does help to optimize the hydration in your skin.”

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Does Slugging Reduce Wrinkles?

So the logic goes, if putting petroleum jelly over your skin care products can help with hydration, and hydrated skin appears less wrinkly, this in turn should help keep wrinkles away, right? Not exactly, according to Henry.

“The jury's still out on that,” she says. “I don't use it as a wrinkle-fighting agent, but if helping your skin stay better hydrated will at least allow you to look better with the wrinkles that you may have, I still recommend it.”  

Since there isn’t enough research to confirm that slugging can help with the appearance of wrinkles, it really will come down to the individual. In other words, if you see a reduction in the look of your wrinkles after you’ve been slugging consistently, it could be more connected to something in your genetic makeup or other skin care products that the petroleum jelly has locked in. So be judicious about where and how you muse about the benefits of slugging when it comes to wrinkles.

Is Slugging With Petroleum Jelly Safe for Acne-Prone Skin?

One important factor to note is that no skin care method is tried-and-true for everyone — skin care regimens are not one-size-fits-all. With that said, you may want to be mindful of your skin type before you go slathering petroleum jelly all over your face. 

“Petroleum jelly itself is occlusive but it's not non-comedogenic,” Henry says. “If you are acne prone and you're already oily, it will clog your natural oil. So this may not be my first recommendation [for those with acne-prone skin].”

Fortunately, there are plenty of other ways to draw moisture into acne-prone skin, including using hydrating serums and water-based moisturizers that are designed to not clog pores.

Next: Is Slugging Good for Your Hair?

Photo Design: Crystal Simone

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