Nail Slugging Is the Latest TikTok Trend, and Yes, It's Basically Just Using Cuticle Oil

Here's why and how you can try it.

Nail Slugging
Photo: Getty Images

Nail trends on TikTok are a dime a dozen these days (looking at you, glazed donut nails), but the latest trend is hardly new. TikTokers have been using cuticle oil and/or moisture-sealing products, such as Aquaphor ointment and Vaseline, to nourish their cuticles, and they're calling it "nail slugging." While the practice isn't exactly revolutionary, it is the ticket to soft, supple nails and skin.

Nail slugging (or cuticle slugging) follows the same methodology as other types of slugging, a South Korean-based skin-care technique that has taken the world by storm in recent years. The process involves "coating your skin in a thick ointment-based moisturizer or petroleum as the last step in your skin care routine before bed," Neda Mehr, M.D., board-certified dermatologist in Newport Beach, California and medical director at Pure Dermatology Cosmetic & Hair Center, previously told Shape. The end result? Dewy, almost glass-like skin thanks to the hydrating elements of these emollient (softening) products.

As TikTokers have discovered, the same logic applies to your nails, especially if your hands have been feeling particularly parched, scaly, and irritated. When the skin around your nails (aka your cuticle bed) is lacking in moisture, your fingernails are likely feeling it too. "Nails are like a sponge — when they're dehydrated they're hard and can crack and turn brittle," Elle Gerstein a celebrity nail stylist, previously told Shape. This can lead to hangnails (pesky pieces of skin that grow around the actual fingernail), dry, damaged skin, and/or nails that feel weak.

That's where nail slugging comes into play, as TikTokers, including @lovefreshpaint, have demonstrated on the app. The process itself is easy and the payoff is major, especially when you "slug" your nails regularly before bed.

Most users start by applying a drop or two of cuticle oil to the skin surrounding each nail, massaging it into each nail bed. You'll want to find an oil with ultra-hydrating vitamin E or jojoba oil for maximum moisture replenishment, Gerstein previously recommended. Then, you'll "slug" with the occlusive (a product that forms a barrier on the skin surface to trap in moisture) of your choosing, such as Vaseline or Aquaphor Healing Ointment, massaging it into each fingertip.

Not only is the trend dermatologist-approved (peep the OG nail slugging video shared in March 2022 by self-proclaimed "derm doc" Charles Puza, M.D., aka @drcharlesmd), but it's also a quick and easy way to bring moisture back to peeling, chipped nails and dry, sensitive skin. Doing this on the regular will help your nails look and feel healthy, supple, and strong. It's a game changer when the weather is harsh and dry and if you rely on acrylate-based nail products, such as acrylics, tips/extensions, and gel manis, as these can take a toll on your nails and cuticle beds.

ICYDK, your nails actually provide a glimpse into your overall health, so if you've noticed changes in their color, shape, and/or texture lately, you might want to check in with your doctor. Sudden changes in your nails and skin can indicate a host of health concerns, including thyroid conditions, lung diseases, kidney disease, iron deficiency, chronic dehydration, or a vitamin B7 deficiency, Salar Parvini, D.C., holistic skin-care expert and founder of Saffron & Sage Skincare, previously told Shape. Of course, changes could also just be genetic or a normal, natural result of aging, so there's no need to panic. Your doc will help you rule out any underlying conditions if you're concerned.

But if you're just working with run-of-the-mill dry cuticles, give nail slugging a try. Your cuticles will thank you for the love. (Next Up: How to Use Essential Nail Grooming Tools for Perfect DIY Manicures)

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