Is the slugging beauty trend beneficial for everyone?

If you keep an eye on internet beauty trends, you may have heard of a skin care routine called slugging.  

Slugging refers to slathering your face in a thick, petroleum-based product before bedtime. The idea, which is believed to have originated in South Korea, is to seal in moisture and prevent hydration loss overnight.  

When products made with petroleum-based ointments are applied to the face, it takes on a slimy, shiny appearance (similar to what a slug would leave behind). Fans of slugging believe it makes their facial skin softer, suppler and better hydrated, but the trend isn't exactly a new idea. Grandmothers used similar skin care routines generations ago.  

The question remains: Should everyone be trying it? Is it safe for those with skin conditions?  

Although it may help those who suffer from severe dryness or eczema, it may not do much for the average person, says Nebraska Medicine dermatologist Ronald Sulewski, MD But if a person loves it and their skin is a good fit, go for it.  

Is slugging safe if I have a skin condition? 

The answer to this depends on what type of skin condition you may have.  

Acne-prone skin or blackheads 

Certain online videos claim slugging can help eliminate blackheads, but Dr. Sulewski disagrees. If you're prone to acne, don’t try it because it could make the condition worse. In addition, sweat glands can end up blocked with thick ointments and cause milia, a tiny pimple-like condition, especially in an acne-prone person. 


You may be a good fit for slugging if you have conditions that make you prone to dry skin (like eczema and rosacea). Those with rosacea that have red, dry, and irritated skin could see benefits from slugging. Slugging is not a good idea for people with papulopustular rosacea, which is more like acne-prone skin 


Psoriasis isn't very common on the face but sometimes may occur around the hairline. Slugging may or may not be helpful, but it most likely won't cause harm. 

As a sunburn treatment 

One may think slathering a thick ointment over a sunburn would help rehydrate the skin, but a good quality facial cream is a better choice. Thicker ointments can trap the heat in, making someone with a sunburn even more uncomfortable, prolonging the burning sensation. 

Other unknown skin concerns  

If you suspect an issue with your facial skin, avoid slugging until you see a dermatologist to rule out an infection or other undiagnosed skin condition. 

What if I want to try slugging but am not sure about it? 

Start by checking with a dermatologist to make sure you do not have a skin condition that would be exacerbated by slugging. If you have very dry skin, you might be recommended to try easier methods to start, such as a cream that’s not as thick and goopy as petroleum-based ointments. 

If your skin is a good candidate for slugging and you'd like to give it a try, be sure to start with a clean face and clean hands. Spread a thin layer either on the whole face or small parts of the face that are driest and place a towel on your pillowcase to keep it clean while you sleep. 

Before trying a new skin care routine, it's wise to understand the dos and don'ts for at-home facials and the best skin care routine for any skin type. 

Do you have a skin concern? Call 402.472.5000 to schedule an appointment with the University Health Center dermatologist. A doctor’s order is required for care.