How to Use Vaseline to Cure Acne—No, Really

Vaseline for Acne
Photo: ImaxTree.

We need you to pay attention for a second because we’re about to completely destroy your belief system: Despite what you’ve been led to believe for years, Vaseline does not, in fact, cause acne. Nor does it clog your pores or lead to breakouts or blackheads or any other scary skin problem. In fact, a layer of Vaseline could very possibly be the exact cure for your zits you’ve been looking for.

MORE: Get Rid of Clogged Pores with These 10 Tricks

What Is Slugging?

The technique is called the slugging, and the skin-care experts (really, these guys eat, sleep and breathe the many scientific facets of skin-care products) at the Skincare Addiction sub-Reddit are obsessed with it. Basically, it involves slathering an occlusive moisturizer—a.k.a. Vaseline or other petroleum jelly-based products that don’t actually moisturize, but instead create a barrier on your skin to trap hydration and prevent water from escaping—over your usual moisturizer at night. Slathering your face in a layer of coddling, hug-like hydration not only makes all of the serums, moisturizers and acne products underneath it a billion times more effective, but it also helps your skin repair and heal itself, all of which leads to a smoother, calmer, more-even complexion with way fewer breakouts.

glowing skin | vaseline acne cure

Photo: ImaxTree.

MORE: The 11 Best Sunscreens for Acne-Prone Skin

“If you have acne, you want your skin to be well-lubricated at all times to help your skin barrier repair itself,” says Yale dermatologist Mona Gohara. “Otherwise, you’re just going to create more acne and breakouts.”

But even without the derm seal of approval, the internet has already dubbed Vaseline as a skin-saving holy grail.

“I wanted to come here and sing my praises for Vaseline for acne on my chin,” wrote one of the zillion slug-life devotees on Reddit. “My [very deep pimples] have been relentless for months … but the Vaseline has been a dream. Besides [making my skin] smooth and less red … it keeps the skin so soft that whiteheads rise to the top of the skin, and, after a while, can literally be wiped or washed off.” And, as another acne-prone user wrote after slathering her skin in Vaseline before bed, “I woke with glowing, non-oily skin! No new bumps! And the [cystic bump] that is trying oh-so-hard to heal looks like it went through [three] days of rehab. I’m amazed.”

MORE: It’s Time You Met the Oil Cleansing Method for Treating Acne

How Does It Work?

But how, you ask? How can that shiny, goopy product not clog pores? Well, dear reader, it has to do with the size of its molecules, which are actually too large to fit into your pores, making Vaseline completely non-comedogenic and safe for even the most acne-prone (seriously, there are even published studies to prove it).

Of course, your mileage may vary—and make sure to patch test first, just in case your skin is in the minority of Vaseline-haters—but regardless, who would have thought that babying your poor, broken-out skin would actually make it look better?

So go pick up a jar of Vaseline ASAP, and get ready to be a slugging devotee too.

A version of this article was originally published in May 2017.