Foot Slugging Is the Best Way to Get Buttery-Soft Feet Just In Time for Summer
It seems like everywhere you turn these days, there's a story, TikTok video, or an Instagram post about the benefits of slugging. The method — which entails layering on occlusive ointments to help hydrate and create a "glow" overnight — leaves skin looking somewhat slimy and slippery like a slug, hence the name.
Although the sudden craze stems from the K-beauty world, Dr. Marisa Garshick, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, says the idea of slugging has been around for a long time, despite its recent spike in popularity. "Even without its name, we've been utilizing the concept for certain skin conditions, like hand dermatitis or other types of eczema as well, as post-laser resurfacing," she explains.
Enthusiasts of slugging say it's a game-changer, particularly for perpetually dry skin. However, as with everything else in the world of beauty, fans have unearthed yet another use for this intense skin-conditioning technique. And while we don't expect anyone to stop slugging their faces, we do foresee more starting to do it on their feet.
Yes, you read that right: foot slugging may be the solution you've been waiting for.
Why Should I "Slug" My Feet?
The idea of dousing your feet in tiers of moisture-gripping ointment makes perfect sense. The feet are often one of the most neglected parts of the body, and often host the driest skin since they lack oil glands. As a result, heels can crack, peel, and split and, in severe cases, develop painful fissures (dry open wounds in the feet), says Dr. Ebonie Vincent, a California-based board-certified podiatrist and co-star of TLC's "My Feet are Killing Me." Thankfully, foot slugging can change all of that.
For those who suffer from dry feet, cracked heels, or can never seem to get their feet to feel soft enough, foot slugging is probably the missing step in your foot care routine.
What Are the Main Benefits of Foot Slugging?
Olivia van Iderstine, Olive & June's vice president of content and creative, says slugging can dramatically improve dry skin instantly and over time. "Slugging the feet helps ensure they stay soft and hydrated year-round," she says. "The feet do so much, so be sure to show them a little love a few times a week, so they're feeling their best."
That said, in the same way slugging prevents water loss from the skin on the face, it does the same for the thick, dry skin on the feet. "Combine that with the fact that people go barefoot or wear thin sandals and expose their feet to humidity, heat, and cold weather, makes slugging to the feet a necessary trend to adopt," says Dr. Vincent.
Regular foot slugging also helps restore the skin barrier of the feet by "creating a thick, protective layer around them," adds van Iderstine. "It's the process of layering humectant products that hydrate around the skin first and then sealing it in."
I Don't Have Dry, Cracked Feet. Should I Still Try Foot Slugging?
If you're lucky enough to have feet that don't display signs of cracks, splits, or peeling, slugging will still help keep them healthy and feeling soft. "Hydrated, happy feet take a gorgeous pedi to the next level," says van Iderstine.
However, there are times when one should skip slugging altogether, like when the feet are incredibly sweaty or there is an active case of Athlete's foot, foot fungus, or a bacterial infection.
VIDEO: "Slugging" Is TikTok's Favorite Cheap Skincare Hack for Ridiculously Soft Skin
What's the Right Way To Do Foot Slugging?
The skin on the feet is thicker than the skin on the face, so there are a few tweaks to make to the traditional slugging steps.
First, clean and exfoliate the feet with products containing urea or lactic acid. Dr. Emily Splichal, DPM, a functional podiatrist and CEO of Naboso, says the acids slowly eat away at dry skin. Alternatively, you can use an electric callus remover — like the Flawless Finish Flawless Pedi which is easy to operate. You can also soak your feet in warm water, which she explains allows the skin to absorb the moisture into the skin.
Next, apply a moisturizing foot cream or balm that contains shea or cocoa butter, like Olive & June Foot Serum, to add a dose of hydration. Van Iderstine says the hydration products you choose to apply get a chance to do their best work because they'll be locked in.
Afterwards, layer on a thick coat of a petrolatum-based occlusive (it creates a barrier on the surface) to seal in moisture, like the cult-classic Aquaphor, Vaseline All-Over Body Balm Stick, or CeraVe Healing Ointment which contains hyaluronic acid.
"This step will create that barrier on the skin to help the previously applied moisturizer seep into the skin to stop water loss. Petroleum jelly-based products keep moisture from escaping but using these products in isolation and not applying other lotions and creams before won't give the desired outcome," Dr. Vincent says.
Even super thick butters, including the new Drunk Elephant Wonderwild Miracle Butter and Dr. Garshick's pick, Yawoni Ultra Nourishing Body Butter, are options for nourishing dry and compromised skin. "If using a tub or a jar, use a spatula to scoop out the desired amount of ointment, so your hands don't reintroduce dirt or bacteria into the jar, especially after wiping your feet," Dr. Garshick recommends.
To seal everything in place and, of course, make it easier to walk around, wrap the feet with Saran Wrap and then slip on a pair of fuzzy socks. "You don't want to walk around with petroleum jelly on your feet since it is slippery and can cause you to fall," Dr. Garshick warns. Ultimately, for a blast of extra moisture in the air, especially in the dead of winter, switch on a humidifier like this Canopy one.
How Quickly Will I See Results?
The morning after slugging, the feet and heels should emerge softer and more hydrated. "They'll have a glowy, almost lit-from-within look with a subtle sheen, too," says van Iderstine. "If you're experiencing dry, cracked heels, you should see those cracks slowly heal and close over time," she adds.
Pro tip: While van Iderstine says you can slug your feet during the day, she warns it can sometimes get a little messy, and adds that it's always best to leave a hydrating product undisturbed while it works. She also says it's nice to 'set it and forget it' at night. Plus, at night, the skin and body are in repair mode, making the act of foot slugging a bit more therapeutic and serving as a mode of relaxing self-care. And that's something we can all benefit from these days.