Benefits and Risks of Viral TikTok Beauty Hack

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“Slugging” is a new TikTok trend that involves applying petroleum jelly — or another petroleum jelly-based ointment — to your face as the last step in your nightly skincare routine. Ohlamourstudio/Stocksy
  • A beauty hack called “slugging” has gone viral on TikTok.
  • Trend promoters say it can help hydrate and protect your skin.
  • They say it can also help reduce wrinkles.
  • Skincare experts say slugging can be a good idea if done correctly.
  • However, this could cause problems for some people with certain skin types.

There’s a new viral beauty trend on TikTok these days called “to bump.” As of this writing, the social media site reports that there have been 25.4 million views of videos tagged “slugging method,” featuring beauty influencers and skincare doctors.

Slugging, in a nutshell, involves applying petroleum jelly — or another petroleum jelly-based ointment — to your face as the last step in your nightly skincare routine.

Searcher Kyla Paganiauthor of an article on the subject published in Dermatology ClinicsTold US News and World Report the purpose of slugging is “to help moisturize and strengthen the skin barrier”. Proponents also claim that it can reduce wrinkles.

In his team’s analysis of the videos available at the time of the study, it was found that 36.7% of the videos were deemed educational in nature.

However, only 20.4% of these videos mention the risks of slugging.

According to Pagani, this demonstrated the potential for harm to general audiences when health-related content is not presented in a balanced manner.

Pagani, however, stressed that it is not the bumping that is harmful. It’s just that TikTokers haven’t always mentioned the downsides associated with the practice, instead emphasizing the benefits.

In fact, overall, the researchers found that 6 out of 10 posts focused primarily on the positives, while only 2 out of 10 mentioned potential issues that users should be aware of.

So what’s the truth about slugging? Is it good for your skin? And what are the risks that could be associated with it?

According Dr. Hope Mitchellboard-certified dermatologist and founder and CEO of Mitchell Dermatology in Perrysburg and Fremont, Ohio, applying an occlusive ointment can indeed help moisturize and heal your skin.

“It hydrates or locks in moisture, protects the skin barrier, and repairs dehydrated skin,” she explained.

She noted that it can be done on any part of your body, but the face, lips, and eyelids are common targets.

“Dermatologists have been using this beauty hack to prevent transepidermal water loss and lock in moisture to quickly heal dry skin for many years,” Mitchell said, “and now this beauty hack has an official name — slugging. “

Dr. Susan Massickassociate professor of dermatology at Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University, added that the practice could be useful for certain skin conditions in particular.

“If you’re someone who struggles with eczema or dry skin, applying some type of emollient moisturizer can help,” Massick says.

Mitchell said slugging is also beneficial when it comes to wrinkles.

“As we age, the skin barrier loses its ability to repair itself, and one may notice a decrease in hydration, or saggy skin and more wrinkles and fine lines. Slugging can be a benefit in all of these cases,” said she declared.

According to Massick, it’s not that slugging itself is particularly effective as an anti-wrinkle treatment. Where it can help, she noted, is to replenish the skin’s natural barrier function.

In other words, it helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles rather than preventing them.

Mitchell said slugging might not be suitable for all skin types, especially oily, acne-prone skin.

“Let’s face it, building up another layer on top of the oil can cause problems,” she said, noting that it could clog pores and lead to further breakouts.

Massick further explained that occlusive emollients like petroleum jelly can trap sebum (oil) and bacteria in your pores, which you don’t want if you already have breakouts.

In these cases, Mitchell suggests people use a serum containing hyaluronic acid as a moisturizer and then a noncomedogenic lotion or cream as a spot treatment.

However, if you have dry skin, swipes may be just what you need.

“Slugging is a great way for people with sensitive skin to heal and protect their skin, especially during the cold winter months,” Mitchell said.

If you want to practice slugging, Mitchell and Massick recommend the following routine:

  1. Purify. Massick suggests using a mild cleanser and gently patting dry.
  2. Hydrate. “Consider a product containing hyaluronic acid, ceramides and glycerin that will work in tandem to lock in moisture in a protected skin barrier,” Mitchell advised. She also pointed out that you should avoid using products containing AHAs, BHAs, or retinoids, as these could cause chemical burns when enclosed under a barrier.
  3. Seal the moisturizer with a thin layer of occlusive ointment. According to Mitchell, good options are petroleum jelly, CeraVe healing ointment, or aquaphor. Massick added that you can either leave the treatment on for a few hours or leave it on overnight while you sleep.
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