Does TikTok's Hair Slugging Trend Actually Work? We Asked Experts

Fans say it can transform your hair overnight.

Woman with perfect straight hair
Photo: Lambada/Getty Images

If you're familiar with TikTok beauty trends, slugging isn't a new concept. Born from a Korean skincare technique, it involves slathering your skin in a moisture-trapping occlusive—most commonly petroleum jelly—and letting it sink in while you sleep. This viral trend has helped people get relief from things like over-exfoliating, product irritation, and seasonal dry skin.

But there's a new form of slugging that has been gaining social traction lately—slugging enthusiasts have taken this viral TikTok hack and adapted it for their strands. The #hairslugging hashtag has racked up almost 7 million views and is the latest hair trend to be influenced by skincare. But before you soak your strands, we asked experts to give us their take on hair slugging.

What is hair slugging?

Hair slugging practices the same basic formula as skin slugging: applying a heavy application of oil or conditioner all over hair and covering it tightly with a sock or a wrap overnight. "The increased heat under the tight wrap helps the product penetrate the scalp skin and hair cuticle," says Yoram Harth, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and medical director of MDhair.

Does hair slugging work? Experts say yes. In fact, the concept of hair slugging has been around in many cultures for years, specifically black and Asian cultures. The main point of slugging is to hydrate, which makes it ideal for dry or damaged hair. Because dry hair is more prone to frizz, breakage, and dullness, Sumana Jayanth, founder of Damn Gina, says hair slugging can help make your strands less frizzy, more resistant to breakage, and overall shinier.

Are there any downsides to hair slugging?

While the benefits of hair slugging are many, experts warn there are a few things to be aware of when trying it out at home. For one, hair slugging can cause product buildup if not removed properly, leading to breakouts along the hairline. "A heavy coat of product combined with the heat that accumulates under the sock can clog the scalp's skin pores and even cause small itchy pimples known as scalp folliculitis," says Dr. Harth. He advises not to leave the oils on your hair for longer than eight hours, and making sure to rinse the oil out thoroughly to avoid clogging pores.

Can all hair types do hair slugging?

Although hair slugging is beneficial for all hair types, lengths, and textures, you'll want to adjust product types and frequency of application accordingly. Medium to thicker textures can slug more often with thicker oils—Jayanth recommends slugging with castor or coconut oil because of their thicker consistencies. On the other hand, finer hair textures should slug sparingly and look for a lighter oil, like grapeseed oil, which will offer hydration without leaving strands limp, says StyleSeat hairstylist Erinn Courtney.

How to Slug Hair

First thing's first: Start with damp, cleansed hair and your hair oil of choice. The ideal solution is a hair oil or serum that is lightweight and has both penetrative and coating abilities.

Next, take the hair oil and apply it throughout your hair, being more generous on the ends and sparingly on the scalp. You want there to be a thin layer of product over your hair, but don't feel like you need to drench it (too much oil leaves the root limp and flat). According to Jayanth, you shouldn't use a comb to distribute the product, but rather run your fingers through—"hair tends to be weaker when soaked in oil, mask, or water, so combing causes more breakage," she says. Once your product is applied, tuck all of your hair into a cover, such as a hair wrap or bonnet.

While hair slugging is primarily touted as an overnight treatment, Jamila Powel, founder of Naturally Drenched Haircare, says "an hour to two hours works well to hydrate without causing increased product buildup." And while the majority of TikTok videos involve styling the hair into a ponytail before securing everything into a sock, Powel advises tweaking the trend slightly and opting for a loose bun into a silk wrap instead. "A ponytail can be too tight and damaging, and silk allows hair to absorb the product without transferring to the wrap like a cotton sock would," she says.

Lastly, make sure to shampoo your hair thoroughly afterwards. For best results, Dr. Harth recommends washing off the oil with lukewarm water followed by cold water as this will "close the cuticles and seal the moisture into the hair strands."

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