I Tried Lip Slugging & My Lips Are So Good I Don’t Need Balm

Welcome to Beauty In A Tik, where each week we put TikTok's viral beauty hacks and innovative trends to the test.
They say the driest place on Earth is the Atacama Desert, but I'm convinced that those parched, sandy plains have nothing on my lips.
No matter the weather, I really struggle to hydrate and moisturize my lips. It doesn't help that I'm a picker and a big retinol fan (the skin-care ingredient is notoriously drying), but it seems I'm not the only one to have this gripe. In the past seven days, 'why are my lips always dry' has become a highly-searched question, according to Google Trends, up by almost 80%. It makes sense. After the summer we've had, it's not just the grass that's dry and crispy; it's our skin, too. Considering that lips are incredibly delicate, it's only natural that they're in need of a little extra TLC.
I've tried tens if not hundreds of revered lip balms, from La Mer and Nuxe right through to La Roche-Posay and Aquaphor. They all work for a little while, but I'm after something that quenches my lips for longer. If you're a Beauty In A Tik regular, you might remember that in October of last year I discovered TikTok's lip facial, which consists of applying moisturizer to wet lips followed by lip oil. It was a godsend for chapping, but best done during the day as it leaves lips ultra glossy. I was searching for something I could do overnight to guarantee soft lips come morning, that doesn't require constant top-ups and means I can wear my cute lip stain during the day.
TikTok users will know that the app is obsessed with slugging, which involves using petroleum jelly over hydrating ingredients, like hyaluronic acid, to seal in moisture. There's skin slugging, under-eye slugging, hair slugging, hand slugging, and even nail slugging. This week, it's all about slugging your lips.
Skin-care chemist and TikToker @aprilbasi recently went viral for their take on the slugging trend using a lip mask and Vaseline. On goes a thick layer of the mask, which is then massaged in, then comes a light layer of Vaseline, also patted in for extra absorption. April enlightened most of their viewers when they explained: "Lips masks unfortunately don't have enough hydrocarbon chains to keep your lips from drying [out]. But Vaseline/petrolatum [or petroleum jelly] has carbon chains to trap in moisture." In other words, things like lip masks or balms might not be as nourishing as we think they are, and can evaporate easily. The benefit of layering something like Vaseline over the top is that it locks in the moisturizing ingredients.
@skinwithdrsarah Slugging for dry lips! Have you tried this…it really works! 💋 #drylips #lips #slugging #skincare #lipchallenge #fyp #trending #doctor ♬ original sound - Dr Sarah
Lip slugging is even dermatologist-approved, with TikTok's Dr. Sarah championing the hack. Dr. Sarah applies their nourishing lip mask first and suggests looking out for ingredients like shea butter, hyaluronic acid, glycerin, cocoa butter, vitamin E, and ceramides. "Finish off by putting a tiny layer of occlusive over the top," says Dr. Sarah, dipping into a tub of Vaseline. If you're not a big fan of the way petroleum jelly feels, others are keen on Aquaphor Soothing Skin Balm over lip balm or applied on its own (it's that moisturizing).
In my quest for baby-soft lips I picked up Fresh Sugar Advanced Therapy Recovery Lip Mask. Its star ingredients are shea butter (tick) and hyaluronic acid (double tick). This stuff is thick but not sticky, so it's easy to massage in with your finger. If you're on a budget, Milani Rose Butter Lip Mask (also with shea butter and hyaluronic acid) and Dr. PawPaw Overnight Lip Mask (with castor oil and aloe vera) are equally soothing and moisturizing.
For an extra-nourishing hit, I slathered on some of the Eucerin balm until it had almost absorbed and then a layer of Vaseline Original Petroleum Jelly. The key is making sure it's light enough to be comfortable to sleep in. One of the main gripes with slugging is that it's messy and the occlusive petroleum jelly has the potential to clog pores. With lip slugging, there isn't really any of that.
The next morning I woke up with lips that didn't feel like they might crack every time I smiled. They were instantly transformed. I learned that consistency is key with this trick, though, and after three or so nights of diligent lip slugging I didn't need to use lip balm during the day — a product I'd panic about leaving behind every time I left the house. The moisturizer I apply in the morning (it goes everywhere!) is enough for me and my smooth lips, and if I'm using matte lipstick or a lip tint, I simply pat a little Eucerin balm over the top to prevent my lips from feeling tight. The best thing is that I'm less inclined to pick at the loose, flaky skin on my lips, causing painful splits and tears — because it isn't there.
Slugging can certainly be hit and miss, with TikTokers citing effects like breakouts and irritation, especially when treating larger areas of skin like the face and body. But as someone with chronically dry lips, lip slugging is pretty incredible. For me, it's now a nightly ritual.
This story was originally published on Refinery29UK.
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