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Nail Slugging Is the TikTok Beauty Hack You Must Try to Take Care of Your Cuticles

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Typically, when we talk about slugging in the name of beauty, we’re referring to skincare. Skin slugging is a practice to help give you maximum hydration benefits overnight by layering a thick occlusive petroleum jelly product over your usual nighttime routine. One of our slugging product’s of choice is CERAVE Healing Ointment (pick one up during your next drugstore beauty haul—you won’t regret it!).

But there’s a new type of slugging we want to share with you! Of course, it’s a TikTok beauty trend, and manicurists are happy that we’re all finally paying attention to cuticle care. That’s right, we’re going to teach you all about what it means to take part in nail slugging. Get ready to say goodbye to dry cuticles and brittle nail beds, nail slugging is the ultimate nail care TLC to give your hands during winter.

About the Expert:

Christine Doan is a LA-based nail artist, nail trend expert and content creator behind the iconic GLOSS HOUSE nail art you see on social media.

What Is Nail Slugging?

Turns out, it’s actually very similar to skin slugging! “[Nail slugging is] used in the cuticle and eponychium area. You’ll use a thickened ointment for that area and even the nail plate if you aren't nail polish at the time. It’s done for an extended period of time to help with dry, brittle nails,” says Christine.

So that ointment we told you to score for your skin slugging routine can also work for your nail slugging routine for healthy nails, too.

What Are the Benefits of Nail Slugging?

Christine told us to think of our cuticles as a piece of paper. If you wet the paper overtime and let it dry out, it’s not going to return to its original shape. Instead, it will be a little crinkled.

“That process happens continuously over time to your cuticles. They become more frail and brittle and can then be more prone to tearing or breakage,” Christine says. And a cut cuticle is so painful!

During the colder months especially, your nail plates are more prone to breakage because of dry skin. Your hands are constantly enduring the cold climate and increased hand washing if you’re trying to avoid sickness. “If proper care isn't taken to rehydrate the skin tissue and nail plate, it will be more dry and break, which can cause more hangnails. The nail plate is a porous surface, so over-drying will cause very easy breaks,” adds Christine.

How to Slug Your Nails

1. Wash Your Hands

“We are trying to trap proper hydration to these areas. You do not want to enclose bacterias into your cuticle,” says Christine. A simple wash with soap and water will do, but give a good scrub underneath your fingernails and around your cuticle, too. No need to give yourself an entire at-home manicure (yet!).

2. Start With Cuticle Care

“Focus on the cuticle area because this is where new nail growth starts, so you want to make sure to tend to that area so you can maintain the health of your nails. I apply a cuticle serum to the cuticle area to slowly hydrate the skin so it may absorb other products better. If I were to go in straight with an oil, it will not sink in the healthy properties—so it’s just like taking care of the skin anywhere else on your body,” says Christine.

3. Apply a Nourishing Oil

“Apply a cuticle oil that has good ingredients; you want it to have at least jojoba oilbecause it is the most similar to the natural sebum that we have,” says Christine. Jojoba oil is also light and will feel comfortable and nourishing on your skin without being too greasy. Since nail plates are porous, this will allow for the oil to be soaked where it is needed.

4. Apply a Hand Cream and Ointment

“Hydrate the surrounding skin areas with a hand cream,” says Christine. “This means your whole hands (I like to use a cream with shea butter in it). Rub them together and make sure you covered everything.” After your hand cream, go back in with an ointment just around your cuticles for the protective barrier. Like skin slugging, this is a night time ritual and you can use CERAVE Healing Ointment, VASELINE, AQUAPHOR, or any other petroleum jelly based product.

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About the author
Olivia Cefalu
Olivia Cefalu
Olivia is a freelance beauty writer. With experience in influencer marketing at Tata Harper Skincare and editorial at Very Good Light, she loves covering Gen Z beauty, wellness, and nail trends. Read her work on Very Good Light and Well + Good.
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Article Last Updated December 15, 2022 12:00 AM