Skin Flooding Is TikTok's Buzzy New Trend For a Quenched Complexion

woman touching skin


It's that time of the year when our dull winter skin calls for an extra hydration boost. Instinctively, you're probably reaching for hydrating, plumping serums and rich, thick creams. The good news is: You may have your hands on the right products, but stop and ask yourself if are you using them the right way. Thankfully, a trending skincare routine that quenches dehydrated skin is bubbling up on TikTok and answers that question. Enter: skin flooding.

What Is Skin Flooding?

The name may sound like a trendy fad, but the concept is simple. Skin flooding involves layering moisturizing products in a particular order to provide deeper, longer-lasting hydration. It involves four simple steps: gently cleansing your skin, spritzing on a mist, applying a serum or two, and lastly, moisturizing your skin.

Hyaluronic acid is the star ingredient in this routine because it attracts and holds onto water molecules. Skin flooding routines may also include niacinamide serum for additional soothing and anti-inflammatory benefits. By carefully layering products, starting with thinner, water-based products first, followed by thicker products with higher oil content, you'll allow your products to deliver hydration effectively. 

TikTok trends may come and go, but—strip away the buzzy name, and the concept of skin flooding is rooted in basic skincare principles.

How Do I Skin Flood?

While the trend recently gained traction on social media, the concept of skin flooding is a familiar one in the world of skincare. It's a common technique that involves layering serums and creams to "flood" the skin with hydration, increase the efficacy and absorption of products, and protect the skin barrier. 

To effectively skin flood, you'll have to start with a gentle face wash that cleanses your skin but doesn't strip it of its natural oils. This way, you start with soft and balanced skin for the rest of your skincare routine. 

Instead of drying your face completely, keep it slightly damp. Moisturizers absorb water more effectively with a water source to draw from, so damp skin is more effective in this step. You can also mist your skin with a thermal water spray for a calming effect.

Next, you'll want to apply a few drops of hyaluronic acid serum on damp skin. Three to four drops of serum are enough to cover your entire face and neck. Use the tips of your fingers to gently massage the product into the skin of your face and neck. I like to use any leftover product on the back of my hands. 

While using hyaluronic acid alone in this routine is enough to hydrate skin, adding a serum with niacinamide has additional calming and anti-inflammatory benefits. Similarly, you can apply up to four drops of this serum to your entire face and neck and use any leftover product on your hands. The last step in your skin-flooding routine is to apply a barrier-protecting facial lotion or cream to seal your products. Remember to layer sunscreen on top if you're skin flooding in the morning.

byrdie contributor toral vaidya

Toral Vaidya

The Risks

Since skin flooding doesn't involve active ingredients, it's not an inherently irritating skincare routine and is safe for most skin types. That said, skin flooding increases the penetration of skincare products, so practice caution if you have sensitive skin. This routine also may not be suited for those with oily skin or acne-prone skin, as layering multiple products can lead to breakouts. If you suffer from any medical skin conditions, consult a board-certified dermatologist to see if adopting a skin-flooding routine is right for you.

The Benefits

For starters, hyaluronic acid is a polysaccharide, a long chain of sugars, that is naturally found in our skin. It's a versatile ingredient that holds up to 1000 times its weight in water, making it an effective ingredient for maintaining skin hydration and elasticity. By starting with slightly damp skin before applying hyaluronic acid, you're allowing it to attract and retain moisture within your skin rather than drawing water out of your skin.

Incorporating a thermal spring water mist and niacinamide serum into your routine can also help calm your winter skin sensitivities. The final moisturizing step of the routine adds an extra layer of hydration, heals your skin barrier, and prevents water loss. Since layering products in the correct order makes all the difference for product efficacy, skin flooding allows you to get the maximum benefit from your skincare routine. 

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