Slug fest for the skin

Applying petroleum jelly on the face as the last night application is a hot trend. Does it really benefit our skin?

The summer heat is sapping. You do nothing but sweat. But social media is overflowing with recommendations for the Korean beauty trend of slugging, which will leave your skin pampered and glowing. Influencers and enthusiasts are
plugging slugging as the ultimate remedy for skin hydration. The technique involves a different type of lockdown from the one the world is used to now – a slug, or a lock-in that preserves the moisture in your skin.

Slugging or applying petroleum jelly on the face as the last night application is getting popular. Does it really benefit our skin?


“Essentially, slugging means applying a thick layer of petroleum jelly over the face as the last step of your skincare routine before bed,” explains Dr Madhuri Agarwal, dermatologist, founder and medical director, Yavana Aesthetics Clinic. “Petroleum jelly is an emollient and forms an oily layer on top of the skin to prevent water loss. We use emollients to repair the skin barrier function in cases of compromised skin specially in dry weather,” she adds.
“Dry, damaged skin loses lipids and proteins heavily due to various factors like genetics, skin conditions like atopic dermatitis or psoriasis, environmental aggressors or overzealous application of retinols/acids. This leads to trans
epidermal water loss,” she says, adding, “Emollients like petroleum jelly help to prevent the water loss and soften the dry skin. Simply put, it is like applying a band aid to externally repair the problem, without treating the root


Water-based moisturisers, mist sprays and a diet rich in seasonal fruits and vegetables will help those scaly elbows, knees and ankles. Explains Dr. Batul Patel, medical director, and dermatologist, The Bombay Skin Clinic, “Petroleum
jelly or even glycerine work really well for palms and soles which are cracked or have broken skin. The skin in these areas is thicker and needs a more occlusive moisturizer. Apply, then seal it with an occlusive cling film or gauze piece
to allow better penetration.” She recommends a sound nutritional plan which includes essential fatty acid-rich food like nuts,seeds, olive oil, fish and eggs.


Is slugging really suited to the Indian climate? In India the environment is more humid in summers and monsoon
and hence a heavy moisturizer will clog the skin cells and prevent renewal of healthy skin cells. Hence oily skin and acne prone skin should definitely avoid slugging. Even for very sensitive and irritated skin, one should first try
a good skin care plan. “If you must, use petrolatum as a short contact application for extremely dry skin. For sensitive skin, use skin barrier creams containing ceramides and hyaluronic acids,” says Dr. Batul. “The skin barrier is usually
healthy and does not need a layer of petroleum jelly every night to repair it,” cautions Dr Madhuri.

Skin has a mechanism of self-repair – it produces more lipids to make up for the small amount of water loss daily.” Warning that skin can get lazy when there is a constant occlusion with no water loss and stop working normally,
she suggests that overnight creams and facial oils could be better than petroleum jelly for skin repair in cases of dry skin. “Petroleum jelly can clog the oil glands and wors- en acne or cause flare ups of breakouts. It should definitely ot e used in summers on face

Shilpi Madan for Deccan Chronicle

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