Like most people out there, I too often find myself blindly following skincare advice from influencers and enthusiasts on social media. From a “miracle serum” to strange masks, there’s very few things I’m not willing to try. But things took a slight turn for me recently. I don’t know about you but I noticed the trend “slugging” on Tik Tok and Instagram over the pandemic. If you haven’t heard of it before, “slugging” refers to slathering a thick layer of Vaseline on your face. People who promoted this viral trend suggested that coating your face with Vaseline could somehow be the secret to achieving the glass skin we all dream of. Heck, even Martha Stewart claims to swear by slugging.
But I was curious and wanted to know a little more before taking this trend into my own hands. While some swear by it, others stand ground on petrolatum and mineral oil being dangerous, carcinogenic, and comedogenic ingredients. As I began diving into peer reviewed literature and hearing what dermatologists and experts had to say about it, I realized that it isn’t as simple as “Is it good or bad?” And so while I could write an essay on this subject, I will try to break it down for you. Here are my biggest takeaways:
1. Petrolatum and Mineral Oil These are the two most common ingredients in products recommended for slugging and are both by-products of petroleum. While that may sound scary and dangerous, it is important to note that both these by-products undergo multiple rounds of renement. So the next time someone tells you that these ingredients are carcinogenic, let them know that unless they are getting their stash of mineral oil straight from an oil rig, they have nothing to worry about.
2. An occlusive layer. This might be my biggest takeaway so I’ll get into this in a bit more detail. Both petrolatum and mineral oil are highly occlusive in nature. This means that these ingredients form a thick layer on the surface of the skin and trap all the layers of gunk or skincare in your pores. While there is an upside to it, there are also several downsides. The main advantage of using an occlusive ingredient is that it can help restore the moisture barrier IF and only if you use hydrating ingredients that suit your skin beneath the mineral oil/petrolatum. Using an occlusive can prevent trans-epidermal water loss and keep the skin hydrated than an average moisturizer. On the other hand, since these ingredients act as a seal, using a comedogenic ingredient, an active something that your skin isn’t fond of under the occlusive can damage your moisture barrier. It's also important to remember that because of their occlusivity, mineral oils don’t allow for any other ingredients of moisture to penetrate into the skin. So using an occlusive in your skincare routine is something that requires careful consideration. Popular products that include mineral oils are Vaseline, La Mer Creme de la Mer, Aquaphor, and Bio Oil.
3. Slugging is not for everyone While mineral oils in itself are not comedogenic, I learnt the hard way that regular sluggin is not everyone’s cup of tea. Sure, it can help pamper the moisture barrier ever so often but slugging everyday? Hard pass.
Team BOCAJ Beauty