Nail Slugging Is the Secret to Healthy, Strong Nails

Cracked cuticles? We don't know her.

Beauty trends come and go, but there's one that's stood the test of time: slugging. Slugging has made its way to our skin, hair, body — and now, nails.

But it makes sense, seeing as few things can be as irritating as having dry, chapped cuticles and nails, which can both be painful and lead to nail breakage.

To better understand what it is, the benefits, and how to do it, we asked three nail experts to weigh in. Their answers, below.

Nail Slugging Is the Secret to Healthy, Strong Nails
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What Is Slugging?

Before we dive into the specifics, let's make sure we're on the same page about slugging. (No, it does not involve slugs.) We previously reported that slugging is a K-beauty trend that involves "slathering your face with a heavy occlusive moisturizer like petroleum jelly" to lock in hydration.

What Is Nail Slugging?

Similar as with the skin, nail slugging is done to hydrate the nails and cuticles. NAILS INC. Founder, Thea Green, explains that the process is similar to that of skin slugging in that you apply a thick, petroleum-like moisturizer over your typical cuticle oil or cream before going to bed.

What Are the Benefits Of Nail Slugging?

Moisturized cuticles and nails equals healthy cuticles and nails — it's really that simple.

"Nail slugging aids in growing stronger healthier nails and benefits the surrounding skin and cuticle of the nail unit to help prevent dry, brittle or splitting nails," says Pattie Yankee, a New York-based celebrity nail artist and consulting manicurist for Dashing Diva.

She goes on to explain that slugging should be focused around the cuticle area as it's the protective barrier of the nail unit. "If the cuticles are dry, unhealthy or splitting, it allows bacteria and germs to enter into the matrix area where are nails are formed, and may cause inflammation or infections," Yankee adds.

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What Steps Do I Need to Follow for Nail Slugging?

According to Emily H. Rudman, CEO of Emilie Heathe, all you need to do are follow a few simple steps to get your healthiest nails ever.

  • Wash your hands. "Using a moisturizing hand soap can help ward off germs without harshly stripping away the skin's moisture," explains Rudman.
  • Exfoliate. Rudman says that using a gentle scrub will remove dead skin cells and any stubborn residue, creating a completely clean canvas for the products to come. (We recommend Susanne Kaufmann's Hand Scrub, which uses a cocktail of hydrating oils to keep hands supple.)
  • Moisturize hands with a humectant-based product. Rudman explains that humectants retain moisture, which is why they're often found in products such as lotions and creams. Yankee recommends massaging Dashing Diva's Red Therapy Nourishing Cuticle into the nails for 30 seconds as it has a special blend of nourishing oils that moisturize and prevent fungal infections. Then, after the oil has absorbed, she likes to apply a light anti-aging hand cream before moving on to the final step. For this, we recommend Barbara Sturm's Super Anti-Aging Hand Cream, which uses ingredients such as antioxidants and botanical extracts to plump the skin and reduce the appearance of dark spots.
  • Apply the occlusive. Here comes the good part! Rudman says to apply petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline or Aquaphor, to your hands and rub it into the cuticles, nails, and the area in between your fingers. "This final layer of product seals in moisture and prevents transepidermal water loss — the process of water evaporating from the skin's surface due to the external environment," she explains.
  • Cover your hands. To prevent creating a mess, Rudman suggests using a pair of moisture gloves before going to bed to keep all the ingredients in place. Yankee says you can also use cotton socks in a pinch, but if you want to be extra bougie, we recommend using NAILS INC.'s Thirsty Hands Moisturizing Hand Mask.
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