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    I Tried "Slugging" My Nails, And My Weak, Brittle Nails Have Never Been So Thankful

    My nails were damaged after a full year of extensions — but this actually did wonders to bring them back to life quickly.

    Hi! I'm Fabiana, a girl who is feeling — dare I say — lost because she just took off her gel nail extensions after wearing them consistently for an ENTIRE YEAR.

    I started getting gel nail extensions at the end of 2021 after I found a local nail artist who did incredible nail art. They only did their work on extensions, so — although my natural nails were strong and grew fast — I bit my tongue and went ahead with the extensions.

    In case you're unfamiliar: A gel nail extension is a pre-shaped gel tip that's bonded to your natural nail. It's typically recommended to get a fill every two to three weeks, but since it was a lengthy and expensive process, I stretched it out to every four weeks — and that worked well for me. I honestly didn't think I would keep up with the extensions for a year straight, but I really loved picking out new designs every month — and letting my nails become a part of who I am.

    The author's gel nails

    When I finally decided to remove them, I went to a local salon near my parents' house during the holidays and asked to get a regular manicure. I was nervous about what this salon's removal process was like because sometimes, the way a nail tech removes gel, acrylics, or gel nail extensions can be really damaging to your natural nails. Thankfully, the person who worked on my nails was gentle — she used a nail clipper and an electric file to remove the extensions.

    Immediately after removal, my nails didn't look like they were in terrible shape. However, they felt extremely weak and brittle. I couldn't scratch an itch or run my fingers through my hair without at least one nail breaking.

    the author's unpolished nails

    My first plan of action was to finally try out the "nail-slugging" trend that I'd seen all over TikTok. You might've heard of skincare slugging, and this is pretty much the same concept — but for your nails.

    a screenshot of a tiktok page showing different nail slugging videos

    Basically, nail slugging consists of applying and rubbing in cuticle oil to your nail beds and then applying a thicker petroleum-based product over it to act as an occlusive barrier and seal in moisture — something like Vaseline or Aquaphor. This two-step technique is supposed to help dry, brittle nails grow stronger and healthier — the exact recipe that my weak nails desperately needed.

    Cuticle oil and Aquaphor

    It's also important to note that while the concept of slugging might be new to TikTok, it's actually been used for years in South Asian culture for healthy, moisturized skin and hair. Vaseline and other petroleum-based products have also been used in skincare routines by the Black community for generations.

    In 2020, the Illuminate Me collection was created when Vaseline partnered with beauty influencer Shalom Blac, professional tennis player Sloane Stephens, and multimedia artist Cristina Martinez to further deepen its connection with the Black community. 

    I'll be the first to admit that I am not consistent with applying cream to my hands — especially in the harsh winter months — let alone caring for my dry cuticles. According to experts, cuticles play a key role in the health of our nails, which made this nail hack even more intriguing to me.

    jennifer lawrence making a cringing face

    Let the slugging begin! When it came time to try the hack, I waited until right before bed — since my fingers would be too greasy to do anything but sleep. After massaging the cuticle oil into my nail beds and cuticles, I then took a pea-sized amount of Aquaphor and used a finger to massage it in.

    a hand with some aquaphor on the finger

    At first, my fingers felt very greasy. However, rubbing the hand cream in helped spread the products all over which allowed them to absorb better. If I really wanted to kick the moisturizing factor up a notch, I could've slept with gloves, but since I usually run hot when I sleep, I opted out of that option.

    In the morning, I didn't have any leftover residue from the cuticle oil + Aquaphor + + hand cream concoction. Instead, my hands, nails, and cuticle area felt incredibly soft. 

    For the sake of trying this trend — and in the hopes of desperately bringing my nails back to life — I stuck to the habit of applying my cuticle oil and Aquaphor combo every night for an entire week. I settled on trying it out for a week because I figured that would be an adequate amount of time to see if nail slugging really made a difference and improved the health of my nails before I made it a staple in my nighttime routine. 

    I heard great things about skincare slugging, so I wasn't surprised at how much I loved this two-step routine. I immediately noticed a difference in how moisturized my nails and cuticles were after just the first night of trying it. I also noticed later in the week that my nails didn't break as easily as they did before I slugged them.

    the author showing her nails

    Since there's a lot of skincare misinformation on social media, I was also pleased that experts approve of this nail trend.

    "I am a fan of this trend. I think it is a great way to lock in moisture and protect the cuticles and nails. Cuticle oil works to hydrate and soften the skin while helping repair damage," Dr. Engelman told BuzzFeed.

    "Applying a thick moisturizer or salve on top seals that moisture and other nourishing ingredients from the oil into your nail and cuticle, while providing additional hydration and adding a protective layer to keep out aggressors," she added. 

    Overall, I do believe that this is a great start to my journey of strengthening my nails and bringing them back to life. I was pleased with the results and am going to aim to slug my nails at least every other night.

    a side by side of the author's nails

    Have you ever tried nail slugging? If so, what are your thoughts on the trend? Tell me in the comments below!