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What’s This Skin Flooding Trend All Over TikTok? We Have Your Expert Answers

Photo by Delmaine Donson/Getty Images

Skin flooding, which has gained popularity on social media (it became a huge TikTok trend), may sound like a strange term. But it actually almost literally means what it says. You’re basically “flooding” dry skin with moisture. Technically, it’s the method of “layering products to add moisture and elevate skin hydration,” according to Element Medical Aesthetics founder Merry Thornton. 

It draws similarities to slugging, and personally, we like this skincare routine because it’s more than a trend. It’s easy, it’s not high-risk or dangerous, and it addresses skin concerns that so many of us have. It’s not something that will disappear over time. It’s a proven effective way to really lock that moisture in

Keep reading for what our skincare experts share about mastering your own skin flooding routine and avoiding water loss—along with which skincare products you’ll need to kick that dehydrated skin to the curb.

About the Experts:

Merry Thornton is a board-certified physician assistant in dermatology and founder of Element Medical Aesthetics in New Canaan, CT.
Evelyn Ramirez is a licensed medical aesthetician and founder of Evelyn Aesthetics.

What Is Skin Flooding?

To elaborate on the above, according to licensed medical aesthetician Evelyn Ramirez, “Skin flooding—also known as skin drenching—is a skincare technique that involves deeply hydrating your skin, using a series of products to achieve a plump and glowing complexion.”

How Do I Skin Flood?

Yes, there are many steps to skin-flooding, but trust us—it’s way less overwhelming than it looks on paper. Also, some steps are optional, so do whatever feels right, and work with whatever you have handy. This process isn’t meant to break the bank.

1. Wash Face With an Exfoliating Cleanser

“Look for face washes that contain lactic acid, which is hydrating while gently exfoliating,” Thornton suggests. “This allows for better penetration of the products to follow. 

After washing, she continues, “Pat the face dry, but do not dry it completely. Allowing some water to stay on the face will help draw more hydration into the skin.”

We recommend the classic MURAD AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser, which contains multiple acids, but gentle enough for daily use. 

2. Exfoliate 1-2 Times a Week (or More, Depending on Skin Type)

“Exfoliate your skin using a mild exfoliating scrub made with something granular [like sugar or minerals]—or a gentle chemical exfoliant,” says Ramirez. “This will remove dead skin cells and promote better product absorption.”

We love the AHAVA Facial Mud Exfoliator for a physical scrub. Made with minerals from the Dead Sea, you’ll be cleared from gunk in no time. For a chemical exfoliant, we stand by the MAAPILIM Exfoliating Solution, which minimizes the appearance of pores and uneven skin texture, while fading dark spots and softening fine lines.

3. Tone Your Skin

“Apply a hydrating toner to balance your skin's pH levels and prepare it for the following steps,” says Ramirez. “Toner can be applied with a cotton pad or by pressing the product into the skin with your palms.”

As an alternative, you can “mist the skin with water or essence for added moisture and hydration,” Thornton adds. 

We opt for a light, all-in-one prep like the GLOW RECIPE Watermelon Glow Ultra-Fine Mist

4. Apply a Hyaluronic Acid Serum

“Hyaluronic acid draws 1000x its weight in water,” says Thornton. “Not all HA serums are created equal. You’ll want one that can effectively penetrate the pores, not just sit on top of the skin.”

If you’re new to HA, we suggest speaking to a professional to figure out what’ll be most effective for your skin type. We personally recommend the STUDIOMAKEUP Hyaluronic Acid Rejuvenating Serum. While the smell can be slightly off-putting, we think it’s worth it for the results. HA serums can be applied by pressing product into the skin with your palms.  

5. Apply a Hydrating Mask

We love sheet masks for providing that quick hit of hydration. If you have extra time to spare, a sheet mask is the way to go. And if you need to multitask and do other things while masking, Ramirez suggests a gel-based mask you can purchase by the jar. Leave on for the recommended time listed.  

Designed with hydration in mind, the SALLY’S BOX Secret Garden Ampoule Masks offer a variety of sheet options that’ll give you that glow!

6. Apply Moisturizer

“You’ll want a moisturizer that’ll lock in hydration and protect the skin barrier,” Thornton says. “Look for moisturizers that contain lipids and ceramides.”

Once you have your moisturizer in hand, you can apply as directed, in upwards motions. We recommend the FIRST AID BEAUTY Ultra Repair Face Moisturizer, which is hydrating, repairing, and safe for sensitive skin; or the ORIGINS Original Skin Matte Moisturizer With Willowherb.

7. Apply Face Oil (Which Is Optional)

“If desired, apply a lightweight facial oil to seal in hydration and add an extra layer of nourishment,” says Ramirez. 

We recommend the clean beauty favorite OSEA Essential Hydrating Oil, which you can pat into the skin with your palms. If your pores are prone to clogging, you can skip this step. 

8. Apply Sunscreen (in Your Morning Routine)

Regardless of routine, we never skimp on SPF. You’ll want to opt for something SPF30 and higher, to protect your skin from UV rays. We’re big fans of the chic SAINT JANE BEAUTY Luxury Sun Ritual Pore Smoothing SPF30 Sunscreen.

The Benefits of Skin Flooding

1. Addresses Both Dryness and Dehydration

It’s important to note that dryness and dehydration are two different things. Skin flooding addresses both, which is key to providing that natural glow from within on your skin.

“Dryness is due to a lack of moisture, while dehydration is due to a lack of hydration,” Thornton explains. “Hydration comes from ingredients such as water, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid. These ingredients will help the skin look dewy and luminous. Ingredients that provide moisture include ceramides, oils, and squalene. These ingredients help repair the skin barrier to lock in the hydration and keep the bad stuff out.”

2. Improves Skin Barrier

Thanks to “preventing moisture loss and external irritants,” your skin barrier is strengthened from this process, according to Ramirez. 

3. Enhances Absorption 

Even if you’re more of a makeup girly, you’ll still want to ensure your skin is primed and prepped to receive additional products. “Hydrated skin absorbs makeup products more effectively,” Ramirez says.

4. Smoothes Texture 

“Skin flooding can help improve the texture of your skin, making it appear smoother and more even,” Ramirez says.

5. Reduces Fine Lines

“Adequately hydrated skin can temporarily minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles,” Ramirez says.

6. Glowing Complexion 

Last, but certainly not least, the most obvious and beneficial reason to skin flood is to achieve “a radiant and healthy glow,” Ramirez says.

Are There Any Risks to Skin Flooding?

While we consider skin flooding generally safe (and certainly safer than many other popular skincare trends or practices), you can never be too careful. It’s important to keep the following potential risks in mind before diving into the routine. 

1. Breakouts 

“Using heavy or occlusive products could potentially lead to breakouts, especially if you have sensitive or acne-prone skin,” Ramirez says. “Start with lighter, thinner products and see how your skin takes to them.”

2. Product Interactions 

With any routine at all, if you mix and match different brands, the products aren’t aligned for efficacy the way they’d be with a cohesive system. So, as Ramirez points out, “Layering too many products can sometimes cause interactions or reduce the power of certain ingredients.”

3. Allergic Reactions 

Again, like with any routine at all, your skin may not take well to particular products. “Everyone's skin is unique, so it's essential to pay attention to how your skin reacts and adjust your routine accordingly,” Ramirez advises. “If you're uncertain, consider consulting a skincare professional before incorporating new skincare techniques.”

4. Overhydration 

They say you can’t have too much of a good thing, but yes, it’s possible. “Excessive use of hydrating products might overwhelm your skin and disrupt its natural balance,” Ramirez says.

Want in on all this skincare fun and more? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started with your own IPSY beauty subscription. Already an IPSY member? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and TikTok @IPSY.

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About the author
Dahvi Shira
Dahvi Shira
Dahvi Shira is a Los Angeles-based beauty writer, who has a passion for hair, makeup, and skincare. She contributes regularly to Mane Addicts and her blog, Skyelyfe. Her work has also appeared on Glossy, People, E!, Sweety High and more.
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Article Last Updated August 29, 2023 12:00 AM