Why this TikTok “slugging” pattern is making individuals coat their faces in fats

(Photo via Get the Gloss)

To sniff or not to sniff? That’s the question for millions of TikTok users who have turned to the social media giant for tips and information on a DIY skincare phenomenon.

What is slugging?

Slugging involves applying a type of sealant — like petroleum jelly or some other petroleum-based ointment — to the skin (think back to when you were a little kid and your mom used to grease your face with a clay of petroleum jelly).

What’s the problem with that? New research warns that the majority of TikTok posts that focus on the practice of wrinkle reduction are medically unreliable, hyping the benefits and downplaying the risks.

The goal of slugging, explains the study’s lead author Kyla Pagani, is to “hydrate and strengthen the skin’s barrier” for those battling dryness, irritation, or inflammation.

The idea isn’t medically sound, says Pagani, who conducted her research while she was a medical student in the Department of Dermatology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

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how safe is it

“I’ve heard some dermatologists speak very highly of it, mostly for treating eczema on hands,” she adds. “It definitely has advantages.”

“Vaseline is a simple and very occlusive ointment,” explains dermatologist Amy Kassouf, MD. This means it forms a protective layer on the skin’s surface – and this protective layer in turn helps to lock in moisture and keep your skin from drying out.

According to Dr. Kassouf exactly benefit:

  • Moisturizes: “The retained moisture can fill the epidermis like a sponge, thickening it and making it more supple and elastic,” she says.
  • Protects: This barrier keeps water in – and bad stuff out. “It can help prevent outside molecules from entering the skin and causing irritation or an immune response,” says Dr. cassouf.
  • Repairs damage: If your skin is dehydrated, a nightly coat of petroleum jelly can help prevent further water loss from the skin and allow it to repair itself.

But it also has potential downsides, Pagani says, such as

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