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This popular trend can transform your dry skin. And it’s as simple as opening a jar.

We all have dry skin at some point. Before you spend your hard-earned money on yet another lotion or cream, there’s a simple method that might just save the day. It’s called slugging, and it uses an ingredient you might already have — petroleum jelly.

How does slugging work?

The name “slugging” may be new, but the process is anything but. “Dermatologists have recommended using petroleum jelly as a moisturizer for decades,” says Dr. Audrey Dean, a dermatologist at Geisinger. 

Despite its name, slugging doesn’t involve the use of slugs.

When slugging, you apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly on your face at night. “That coating locks in moisture and prevents water loss, which keeps your skin from getting dry,” Dr. Dean says. 

It’s easy to do. After your nighttime routine, spread a pea-sized layer of petroleum jelly evenly around your face.

Benefits of slugging

Petroleum-based products heal the skin. To find the right tool for the job, check the label for these ingredients:

  • Glycerin
  • Lanolin
  • Mineral oil

Together, these compounds form a protective seal around your skin. That barrier traps moisture beneath the surface. “Besides moisturizing, that added protection can help repair the outermost layer of your skin,” says Dr. Dean. But that’s not the only benefit. Slugging can also:

  • Decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
  • Give your skin a healthy glow
  • Improve skin health
  • Make skin look younger
  • Lock in other skincare products

The slugging process

Slugging is just one step in your nightly beauty regimen. To get the full effects of slugging, follow these steps.

  1. Wash your face
  2. Apply your hydration product, like glycerin or serum
  3. Add a layer of moisturizer, like lotion or oil
  4. Spread your petroleum jelly to build a barrier and lock in hydration.

To avoid clogging your pores or having too much product on your face, use petroleum jelly sparingly. A pea-sized glob is all you need.

Worried about your bedding getting slimy after you slug? Wait a few minutes for your face to dry before you get into bed.

Think before you slug

If you’re considering slugging, start by doing your homework. Slugging isn’t for everyone. Because the goal is adding moisture, slugging works best on dry skin. “If you have oily skin, slugging can worsen breakouts,” says Dr. Dean. And if you have combination skin? Dr. Dean suggests using petroleum jelly only on dry areas.

Not sure what kind of skin you have? Talk to your healthcare provider. They can help you decide if slugging is right for your skin. Or recommend an alternative to give you a dewy glow all year long.

Next steps: 

Here’s how to calm your dry, itchy skin. 
Healthier skin and nails? There’s a vitamin for that.
Meet Audrey Dean, MD

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