Another day, another TikTok trend that dominates the beauty conversation. This time, it’s “nail slugging,” an offshoot of the regular skin care slugging you might have seen gracing your For You Page over the past few years, and many swear it’s the antidote to brittle, frayed tips. Before you ask: Yes, it involves more than just cuticle oil, but it’s pretty easy to incorporate into your routine. Below, find everything you need to know about the hack of the moment for healthy nails.
Nail slugging benefits & how-to.
Slugging, in general, involves applying a jelly balm to create a slimy film over your pores until it resembles a mucus-like layer (so you look like a slug; get it?). That dewy barrier helps those with super-thirsty skin lock in hydration overnight—we have a full guide to slugging here, if you’d like an in-depth tutorial.
Since the technique became a TikTok sensation (despite its origins on Reddit’s Skincare Addiction thread around 2018), many users have taken this concept and applied it to other areas of beauty, like “hair slugging,” “body slugging,” and now, “nail slugging.” All “slugging” means in this context is sealing in moisture, so it makes sense that beauty fans want to use the same technique for their skin, hair, and nails. Is this a revolutionary idea? Not exactly—but if a cute moniker is what helps people focus on skin barrier support, we’re certainly game.
But back to nail slugging: This particular subtrend involves layering a highly occlusive moisturizer over a cuticle oil for extra protection. You might regularly massage an oil by itself into those nail beds, but think of nail slugging as an extra treatment for some serious frays. Your digits experience a lot of wear and tear on the daily (from frequent hand-washing, household chores, etc.), so it’s worth giving them some TLC every once in a while.
“Slugging the nail cuticles can strengthen the nails and protect them from water damage,” notes skin care expert Charles Puza, M.D., in a TikTok video. Remember: Frequently soaking your nails in water can cause them to expand and contract, which can make them brittle and weak over time, so Puza recommends you “slug” your nails at least once a day and repeat after you wash your hands.
If slugging that often doesn’t sound realistic for your lifestyle (as someone who types on her computer all day long, greasy fingertips are not exactly conducive to my workday), you can also follow a nightly routine once you tuck yourself into bed. Keep a cuticle oil on your bedside table (this Nourishing Cuticle Oil Rollerball from MiniLuxe is my current go-to), and slather on a thicker hand cream, like one of these luxe options. Come morning, your cuticles will appear way more comfortable and hydrated; even your nail plate itself may look more polished since cuticle care is the bedrock of healthy, thriving tips.
Just like skin care slugging can tend to your skin barrier and lock in moisture, nail slugging is top-notch for the skin around your nail beds. Our nails are especially vulnerable to cracks and frays since our hands do so much for us on a daily basis, so it may be worth paying them some extra attention. At the end of the day, if you only remember to apply cuticle oil to those tips, that’s just fine; any love you can give your nails is A-OK.