Search the word slugging on Reddit’s Skincare Addiction forum, and you’ll come up with pages on pages of results. I know what you’re thinking. Given the skin care world’s love of snail enzymes, the immediate mental picture is a slug sliding its way across your face in the name of bouncier, softer skin. Despite the fact that, yes, that actually is a kind of facial that exists, this Internet sworn-by technique instead centers around slathering a thick layer of petroleum jelly on your face.
As Redditor trainbangled puts it, the name comes from going to bed “mucus covered. Slug-like.” It’s not the most appealing visual, but it pays off. Trainbangled continues: “I woke up the next morning, and MY FACE HAS NEVER BEEN SO SOFT. I am reborn. I am a new woman. I was not a slug; I was a caterpillar in the cocoon. I’ve emerged, a beautiful butterfly. No new breakouts. My skin is smooth and happy and bouncy: everything it should be and never was.”
The process is simple: You go through your nightly skin care routine as usual, and then seal everything in with Vaseline. The thinking is that during the dry winter months (or year-round, if you have thirsty skin), you want to lock in as much moisture as possible. So while your current routine may be hydrating, topping it with a jelly creates a barrier that traps in moisture and helps the formulas sink in even more. As an unabashed sucker for Internet wisdom (and with flaky skin that won’t quit), I put slugging to the test.
Each Redditor who talks about the technique has a different, elaborately tailored regimen, but my nightly process is pretty basic: I use a gentle cleanser, retinol, CeraVe’s Moisturizing Cream, and sub an AHA exfoliant for the retinol every other night.
The routine leaves my combo skin largely zit-free (thank you, buffering), but winter’s dryness always creates some stubbornly red, flaky patches around my mouth. The goal: Rid them from my life. Thanks to early exposure to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, I’m not a huge fan of plain petroleum jelly. Instead, I went for Dove’s DermaSeries Expert Repairing Balm, which blends petrolatum with a few different silicones for a lighter, less oily texture.
Despite all the talk about going to bed covered in mucus (blegh), I didn’t find the process terribly slimy, nor were there any trails of moisture across my pillow in the morning. The difference in my skin was night and day: It felt crazy soft as I splashed water on my face the next morning, if a bit strange—your skin feels so smooth that the water almost slides off. But after you dry off, there’s no residual grease or jelly. Your skin is just velvety and plump, and the effect lasts all day.
Trainbangled wasn’t lying. After a few weeks of slugging, my face has never been so soft, and the flakes around my mouth are a distant memory. If touching your face wasn’t a recipe for disaster, I’d never stop petting it. Now, come nighttime, I am slug; see me glisten.