“Nail Slugging” Is The Genius Tiktok Solution For Dry Cuticles

BRB, running to buy Vaseline.

by Sophia Moore
Should you be nail slugging, as TikTok suggests? Here's what an expert says about the beauty trend.
Getty Images/Anna Efetova

There have been all sorts of swoon-worthy nail art trends this summer, from the Hailey Bieber-inspired glazed donut mani to Barbiecore nails. But as fun as it is to try new designs, if your nails are feeling brittle and need some TLC, TikTok’s latest beauty trend might be the answer for you.

Meet nail slugging, a predecessor of hair and face slugging that’s taking the app by storm and inspiring users to coat their digits in Vaseline to strengthen their nails. If you’re not familiar, the OG trend of face slugging was pulled from the K-beauty world and popularized on TikTok last year, racking up hundreds of millions of views. It’s the practice of applying a layer of Vaseline or other petroleum-based product to the skin as the last step in a nighttime skin care routine to lock in moisture.

Transferring that logic to your fingertips, nail slugging (also known as cuticle slugging) involves the application of petroleum jelly to the cuticles at night. Some TikTokers have even added more steps to the ritual, such as applying strengthening oils to their nailbeds before the Vaseline for extra healing power.

The original video on nail slugging was posted back in March by @drcharlesmd, and has racked up over 87.4K views since. In it, the self-proclaimed “derm doc” gives tips on how to effectively slug your cuticles, as well as what the benefits of the practice actually are — which, according to him, include decreased brittleness, strengthened nails, and protection from H2O damage. In the clip, he suggests nail slugging every night in order to maintain the health of your cuticles.

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It sounds great, sure, but does it really work? According to Dr. Dana Stern, M.D., a New York-based dermatologist and nail specialist, the answer is yes. She tells Bustle that cuticles often go uncared for after manicures or consistent hand-washing, which isn’t ideal for nail health — so she’s happy with the “slugging” trend bringing more attention to the area. “The cuticle is the key to a healthy, beautiful nail as it’s the nail’s natural protective barrier,” Stern says. If a cuticle is removed or irritated, as it could be after frequent visits to the salon, “it becomes compromised,” she explains. “Then water and moisture are able to enter the nail unit, causing all sorts of problems including chronic paronychia.”

The biggest benefit of nail slugging is hydration, according to Stern. “Cuticles in particular will absorb oils or ointments better than creams,” she explains. Her tip? Take the extra steps to slug (read: hydrate) your nails as often as you moisturize your face. Anyone with dry, dehydrated nails or cuticles is a good candidate for the practice, adds Stern. If you frequently expose your nails to water or frequently get them manicured, slugging and thoughtful cuticle care could be worth a shot. And if daily slugging isn’t your speed, Stern recommends testing out cuticle oils and ointments as other solutions to healing dry and damaged nails.

Ready to give nail slugging a shot? Stern’s top tip for the treatment isn’t something you’ll see on TikTok. “What's interesting about this latest TikTok nail hack is that there is no exfoliation step being spoken of,” she shares. “The best way to hydrate a nail and cuticle is to first exfoliate — just as you would the skin — followed by application of a product that has real nail and cuticle hydrating and strengthening benefits.”

With that said, be sure to gently exfoliate the area to reap the maximum benefits. After that, go in with your Vaseline (or another hydrating nail product) and slug away. Your cuticles will thank you.