Everything to Know About “Nail Slugging,” TikTok’s Hack For Healthy Nails

Everything to Know About “Nail Slugging,” TikTok’s Hack For Healthy Nails

  • “Nail slugging” is a beauty hack going viral on TikTok.
  • The process involves strategically moisturizing your nail beds and cuticles.
  • Experts break down how to nail slug for healthier nails.

Throughout the last year, the “slugging” beauty trend has taken over social media. First, “skin slugging,” a Korean skin-care technique, went viral on TikTok, followed shortly after by “hair slugging,” an ancient South Asian practice for healthy hair. Most recently, “nail slugging” has been everywhere on the platform, with millions of users slathering their cuticles in products like Vaseline and Aquaphor.

For the uninitiated, slugging in general typically involves applying a hydrating product and then layering an additional occlusive product on top to seal in moisture. “Slugging is a great option for somebody who has dry skin or irritation,” Joshua Zeichner, MD, a dermatologist and associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, previously told POPSUGAR.

No one likes the feeling of dry, peeling skin around their nails, so it is no surprise that people are interested in adding extra moisture into their routines however possible. Here, we break down what nail slugging is, what the benefits are, and how to add nail slugging into your own regime.

What Is Nail Slugging?

Put simply, nail slugging is a method that adds extra moisture to the nail beds and cuticle skin. Like facial slugging, the process involves layering hydrating products like cuticle oils and serums onto the skin around the nails and then sealing in hydration with an occlusive product like petroleum jelly for maximum hydration.

But are the extra steps worth the effort? Brittney Boyce, celebrity nail artist and founder of Nails of LA, says yes. “There are tons of benefits to keeping your nail cuticles moisturized and hydrated,” Boyce says. “They’re crucial for overall nail health, as their function is to keep dirt and bacteria from getting into the nail bed, which can cause infections.” She adds that dry nails are prone to splitting and cracking, which can also compromise the protective barrier around the nails and cause infection.

Dr. Zeichner agrees. “We know that with age, the nails become dry and brittle,” he says. “Just like the skin, applying a moisturizing ointment to the nails can help soften and protect them.”

How to Nail Slug

For some, nail slugging can be as simple as layering a cuticle oil underneath a hand cream, or it can be more involved. “I have a very elaborate hand- and nail-care routine that’s more intense than my skin-care routine,” Boyce says. “I use a nail serum, cuticle oil, and thick, occlusive cream to seal everything in.”

If that sounds like a lot, at the very least, Boyce recommends applying a hydrating cuticle product twice a day — once in the morning and once at night. However, if you’re looking to ramp things up, the below three-step routine is sure to get your nails in tip-top shape.

Step One: Exfoliate

To get the most out of your slugging routine, start by gently exfoliating hands with a product like the Olive and June Mani + Pedi Scrub ($22), which uses enzymes and volcanic sand to gently buff the skin. The exfoliation step doesn’t need to be done every time you nail slug, but doing it once a week or every two weeks will help remove dead skin cells and prep the skin for hydration.

Step Two: Hydrate

Next, it’s time to layer on the moisture. Apply a nail serum like the Dashing Diva Rich Nail Serum ($9) to the beds of each of your nails to hydrate and help promote nail growth. From there, add moisture to the cuticles with the Orly Argan Oil Cuticle Drops ($15). When looking for a cuticle product, Boyce suggests finding one with plant oils. “Plant oils like coconut oil, argan oil, squalane, and jojoba oil are similar to our skin’s own oils, plus they have a lot of fatty acids and antioxidants to nourish the skin,” she says.

Step Three: Seal in Moisture

To lock in all the moisture you just applied, grab an emollient product like the Lanolips 101 Ointment ($17) or the Orly Cuticle Therapy Cream ($13) and gently massage it around the cuticles, in between the fingers, and on the hands. Although most TikTok users have been seen using petroleum jelly as an occlusive layer, Boyce says she prefers cream. “Creams tend to absorb into the skin better whereas petroleum jelly leaves a thin, slightly sticky layer.”

If you really want to take your nail slugging to the next level, Dr. Zeichner suggests wearing a pair of white cotton gloves to bed after you’ve finished your routine to help the products stay in place and avoid creating a mess.

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