Slugging should be part of everyone’s skin care routine. It has a multitude of benefits including hydrated skin, reduction of inflammation and irritation, and improved skin health. Often, people use occlusives (wax-like, heavy ingredients) to slug with. The most popular occlusive is Vaseline, in which I explained exactly how Vaseline can improve post-inflammatory erythema. Another great occlusive is CeraVe’s Healing Ointment.
Overall, CeraVe’s Healing Ointment provides additional skin-nourishing ingredients. However, with phenoxyethanol and a longer list of ingredients in general, it may be a better idea to stick with Vaseline to avoid potential irritation.
Let’s dive into the ingredients of both of these occlusive products and decide the benefits and short-falls of each.
A Brief Summary of Occlusives and Slugging
Occlusives, as mentioned previously, are wax-like substances that have thick consistencies.
They are often used to prevent transepidermal water loss in the skin. Due to their thickness, they form a small barrier over the surface of the skin and are able to protect the skin from losing its water content.
By doing this, occlusives have the ability to trap water in the skin, retain moisture, and make your skin care products become more effective.
It enhances the hydration properties of the skin care products that you use.
Most people use an inclusive at the end of their skincare routine, right before bed. A thin layer is really all you need. The act of putting a thin layer of an occlusive ingredient as the last step in your skincare routine is known as “slugging”.
Slugging is a popular term used to describe the act of sealing your skin care products into your skin at the end of your routine. It is actually very beneficial for continuously hydrating the skin, increasing its moisture content, and preventing dehydration, dryness, and flaking.
You do not have to use an occlusive all over the face. Some people may find it uncomfortable to use a thick ingredient all over the face.
Instead, you can use an occlusive on certain areas of the skin, such as around the eyes, or around the mouth.
These areas typically have more sensitive skin as they are thinner areas of skin.
The biggest step in deciding what kind of occlusive you want to add to your routine involves choosing an occlusive that will not exacerbate acne breakouts, or increase inflammation in the skin. You have to remember that seaing in your skincare products will make those skin care products stay on the surface of the skin.
Therefore, if you are using incorrect skin care such as skin care that irritates your skin, it will be more pronounced once you seal in those skincare products with an occlusive ingredient.
The two most popular occlusive ingredients used for slugging involves the CeraVe healing ointment and Vaseline. Both of these are very affordable options.
CeraVe Healing Ointment
This healing ointment is available over the counter and is affordable. It comes in a large size, and can be used for a very long time. It has a thick wax like consistency and is great for using as an occlusive. They have added a number of nourishing ingredients to enhance its abilities to retain moisture in the skin.
Ceramides are star ingredients in skin care.
Ceramides are naturally found in the skin and help to form the structural barrier of the skin. It creates a sturdy structure to keep out pollution, UV rays, and other irritating substances.
It prevents transepidermal water loss and contributes to the overall moisture content in the skin. Products that contain ceramides can be beneficial as they penetrate into the top layer of the skin and increase hydration.
The overall look of the skin will look more plump. The CeraVe healing ointment contains three different ceramides that all contribute to the integrity of the skin barrier.
You can take a look at this in-depth blog post about the golden ratio of ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids.
PANTHENOL & HYALURONIC ACID
Panthenol is a type of B vitamin found in skin care products that has been shown to effectively penetrate the skin barrier.
It has been shown to decrease transepidermal water loss, decrease inflammation in the skin, and increase hydration.
This is present in this healing ointment and can work synergistically with the hyaluronic acid present in this ointment as well to increase moisture and hydration. These ingredients can soften the skin cells and make the skin appear healthier.
Phytosphingosine is a naturally occurring lipid found on the surface of the stratum corneum, which is the outer layer of the skin.
When in skin care products, it has been shown to effectively penetrate the skin and have antimicrobial activities against acne.
It also displays anti-inflammatory activity, making it a great addition to your skin care routine.
While this is generally a safe and well tolerated preservative in skin care, it can cause irritation and contact dermatitis in some individuals with particularly sensitive skin.
Although this is present in very small percentages in skin care, you may experience inflammation or irritation from this ingredient.
I wrote an in-depth blog post all about phenoxyethanol and why you should steer clear of it if possible.
It has long been believed that the petrolatum in Vaseline is an inert substance that does not do anything for the skin.
Surprisingly, it has actually been shown to increase the amount of antimicrobial peptides when applied to the skin.
In addition, it reduces transepidermal water loss. The best part? Since Vaseline is only made up of 100% petrolatum, it is much less likely to cause irritation, inflammation or any breakouts.
It is often used on patients who have surgical scars to help the wound healing process. Vaseline has been shown to speed up the recovery of a damaged skin barrier.
Petrolatum should not be used on open skin wounds. Since it has a high rate of occlusivity, it can breed bacterial infections if used on open skin.
While this should not be a concern when added to a skin care routine, it should be noted that the products used underneath the Vaseline will stay put on the skin – so you should be sure you are using skin care ingredients your skin responds well to.
The Overall Consensus
Sometimes less is more. With a longer ingredient list, there is always more potential for irritating ingredients and substances in these products that could possibly irritate your skin. There are definitely positives to choosing products that are carefully curated to include a variety of skin-nourishing ingredients. However, if you are experiencing acne breakouts and are unsure how your skin will react to occlusives, your best bet is to go with a smaller ingredient list, such as Vaseline, which only has 1 ingredient.