Putting Vaseline on your face during the warm-weather months might not be necessary, says our expert.

By Rebecca Norris
July 08, 2021
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Slugging has taken the beauty world by storm. This is largely because the idea of covering your face in a thin layer of petrolatum jelly seems very counterintuitive: Won't that cause breakouts? If you are very dry, the answer is no. In fact, the occlusive will ultimately improve your skin long-term. But we very often associate this level of dryness with the winter months, which begs yet another question: Can you slug during the summer? To find out, we spoke with celebrity esthetician and eponymous brand founder Renée Rouleau. Ahead, what you need to know about slugging in hot and humid weather.

scooping petroleum jelly from jar
Credit: towfiqu ahamed / Getty Images

Slugging Basics

First things first: What exactly is slugging? According to Rouleau, the practice centers around fixing dry, irritated, or damaged skin. "The way slugging works is simple. As the final step in your nighttime routine, apply a generous layer of petroleum jelly—a brand name is Vaseline ($2.29, target.com) or you can get generic—to coat your face," she says. And while this might seem like an extremely heavy, potentially pore-clogging approach to skin care, Rouleau notes that the method is said to help repair the dermis' moisture barrier. As for why this is called slugging? The heavy layer of petroleum will lead to a temporary wet appearance, much like the land-based gastropod.

Seasonal Slugging

Since "Vaseline fills in the cracks in your skin's 'mortar' so that your barrier and skin start to act in a healthy way again," says Rouleau, those with with dry or damaged complexions will experience the best results. The esthetician notes, however, that this shouldn't be a daily practice: "If you're using a product with a very high concentration of petrolatum all over your face every day, the chances of it leading to clogged pores (bumps) are high," she warns. And since irritated, flaking, and dehydrated skin is more common during the winter months, you might want to reserve this practice for colder weather, notes Rouleau.

During summer, you should be able to get by with slugging infrequently—if at all. "Because there is more humidity in the air during the warmer months, there is less moisture evaporation occurring," says Rouleau. "Therefore, the skin's barrier isn't as compromised and slugging with petroleum jelly is less necessary." As for what to do in place of slugging, if you need a little more moisture? According to Rouleau, an extra step isn't required; your existing routine should be up to the job. "Your regular moisturizer, so long as it is for your skin type, should be sufficient," she says.

Long-Term Slugging

While Vaseline is a safe, chemically inert ingredient, it shouldn't cause irritation (Rouleau notes that it is so gentle, it is frequently used to treat eczema in babies); still, that doesn't mean it'll solve excessive dryness. "Slugging isn't a long-term solution to repairing barrier damage, but rather a band-aid to help you deal with the symptoms of a damaged barrier instead of addressing the underlying issue," she says. "That said, it acts as a safe way to temporarily keep damaged skin protected from water loss and irritation." For a long-term approach, Rouleau recommends scheduling an appointment with your dermatologist or esthetician to discuss your options.

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