A Step-by-Step Guide to Slugging in Skincare

A Step-by-Step Guide to Slugging in Skincare

First things first—skin slugging may be one of the hottest new trends in skincare, but as its name implies, it can be a bit slimy. In short, slugging involves slathering your freshly-moisturized skin with a thick outer -layer of product (aka an “occlusive layer”) to seal in moisture. As a result, you end up with shiny, wet, and oily skin (hence the name).

We’ve put together this step-by-step guide to slugging skincare to help you navigate the slippery path ahead—which, it turns out, isn’t so slippery after all.

Learning to properly slug your skin with a facial moisturizer entails an easy five-step process along with a few key tricks. Put on your PJs and get ready to slug!

Step 1: Choose The Right Time

Before dipping a fingertip into your arsenal of skincare products, you should consider when slugging will be most effective for you.

Many people choose to slug in the evening just before bed. The reason for this is three-fold:

  • There should not be any makeup or sunscreen beneath your chosen occlusive moisturizer
  • Evening skincare products often require time to become fully absorbed into your skin cells. At night, they’re better protected from evaporation and friction.
  • The occlusive layer is undeniably shiny, so it might be best kept at home.

However, that doesn’t mean you can’t slug your skin during the day. If you do choose to slug in the morning or afternoon, just remember to be mindful of keeping your chosen product off of your clothing and avoiding sun exposure.

Step 2: Wash Your Face

Whether you’re a skincare novice or a seasoned pro, you probably know that hydration matters when it comes to healthy skin—especially before bed. Starting your slugging routine with a clean slate helps each layer of skincare product to achieve its maximum results.

Excellent products that can help get your skin extra-clean and ready for slugging are:

  • Cleanser
  • Toner
  • Micellar water
  • Exfoliant

Wash and pat your face dry before moving on.

Step 3: Hydrate and Nourish Your Face

You may already have a well-thought-out and personalized skincare routine. Whether you’re treating yourself for signs of aging, blemishes, dark spots, or any other dermatological condition, slugging does not supplant those treatments.

The best product routine depends on your skin type. We recommend the following bedtime routines:

  • For Dry Skin – Try slugging after applying a concentrated oil or supplement cream.
  • For Oily & Combination Skin – Slug after you’ve applied an AHA serum or plumping emulsion.
  • For Blemish-Prone Skin – Slugging will seal your skin barrier, so it’s important to apply a gel blemish treatment or barrier support elixir beneath your occlusive moisturizer.
  • For Mature or Sensitive Skin – Apply any products that are part of your nighttime routine, including youth serum, healing ointment, concentrate oil, or eye cream.

No matter what your skincare routine entails, wait for about 15 minutes after applying your nighttime skin treatments to move to Step #4.1

Step 4: Slug Your Face

Once your skin has begun to absorb your moisturizer and treatments, you can slug.

Our Overnight Recovery Balm is the perfect hydrating balm to slug with to help nourish your skin while you sleep. This balm is packed with enzymatically activated oils of Olive, Almond, Borage and Linseed to help soothe and calm your skin.

Cover your entire face with the balm and neck with a medium-to-thick layer. As you’re getting started with slugging, try applying the occlusive layer to the thickness of sunscreen. As you become more comfortable, you can adjust to a thinner or thicker layer.

If you’re still undecided about how to slug, consider one of the following products for your occlusive layer:2

  • Beeswax Based Products – Beeswax—when combined with softening and nourishing components like almond, olive, and rosemary oil, or royal jelly—can create a thick and waterproof layer.
  • Petrolatum Based Products – Also called mineral oil jelly, a gel or paste of petrolatum creates a silky smooth and completely water-repellant film on the skin.
  • Oil Based Products – Lighter than beeswax or petroleum jelly, natural oils make an excellent active ingredient for slugging and come from many sources such as squalane, marula, jojoba, shea, almond, argan, macadamia, and kukui.

Step 5: Wake and Wash Your Face

Technically, there is a Step #4.5— sleep. You should keep the occlusive on your face all night. When you wake, follow your usual morning routine.

Slug Life Hacks

While the steps to getting a great slug are pretty straightforward, several pitfalls can be easily avoided with a few tips and tricks.

  • Watch Your Pajamas and Sheets – Although your occlusive acts as a protective barrier on your face, there is a chance that it will rub off onto your bed linens, pajamas, and even the person sharing your bed. Try putting a towel or old t-shirt over your pillow, skip the silk jammies on slug night, and tell your bed buddy sorry when necessary.
  • Be Patient – Remember, nothing happens overnight. Likewise, different skin types and textures may require a different product or ingredient. After a few weeks, you should have a better sense of whether this beauty trend is right for you.

Find Your Clean Skin Routine with REN Clean Skincare

You’re now equipped with the know-how for a great slugging experience.

At REN, we want to help you make the most of your skin care. From our clean cleansers to our maximizing moisturizers to our AHA serums and clarifying masks, we have everything you need to create a clean routine tailored to your skin type—slugging optional.

If you still have questions about this skincare trend, you can always shop with one of our experts by SMS and we’ll point you in the right direction!

About the Author:

Camille Poggi is a doctor in Pharmacy (PharmD.) and is passionate about skincare and how the skin works in general. She specializes in the cosmetic industry and worked for renowned companies in France like L’Oréal and Chanel before moving to London. After being a training manager for 4 years, Camille is at ease with explaining how products work in the skin and how to adapt her speech according to the audience.

She joined REN in January 2020 as International Training Manager and moved to the Research & Development team earlier this year to be the new Scientific Education Manager. A tailored-made role where she assesses and leads all technical communication and ensures scientific compliance is always met. She’s also involved in new product development from the earliest stages. Finding a way to create sustainable skincare products and making sure the message is properly delivered and understood is definitely a big challenge but also her favorite part working for REN.


  1. Glamour Magazine UK. This is how long you should really be leaving between each step of your skincare routine. https://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/article/how-long-leave-skincare-products-routine-timing
  2. Harvard Health Publishing. Occlusive ingredients in moisturizers. https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/occlusive_ingredients_in_moisturizers