What is "skin flooding"?

The viral hack for dry skin explained

BEAUTYcrew Beauty Editor / December 06 2022

TikTok has an unhealthy obsession with repackaging commonplace skin care techniques. 

Take skin cycling, for example. Recommended by dermatologists to their patients for decades, the skin care scheduling technique allows you to reap the benefits of active ingredients without overdoing things and therefore minimising the risk of a compromised skin barrier

But it wasn’t until Dr. Whitney Bowe took to TikTok, and coined the four-night rotational routine as ‘skin cycling’, that the practice garnered familiarity with a wider audience.

The latest skin care technique to gain a social media refresh? It’s called skin flooding, and much like skin cycling, it has a dermatologist seal of approval. 

What is skin flooding?

As the name suggests, the operative function of skin flooding is to infuse the skin with a high dose of moisture. 

Created with dry skin types in mind, ‘flooding’ is achieved by layering hydrating skin care ingredients onto damp skin. This ensures maximum product absorption and minimises transepidermal water loss. 

Optimally thinner formulas such as essences and serums with smaller molecule hydrators (think: hyaluronic acid, panthenol and polyglutamic acid) are used to ensure hydration on a deep level, while thicker formulas such as moisturisers with larger molecules seal the skin with a layer of surface-level hydration.  

A skin flooding skin care routine

After cleansing the skin with a gentle cleanser, it’s recommended to leave a sheer layer of water on the skin. 

A hydrating face mist is then applied, and misted in between layers if desired.   

Subsequently, essences, and then serums such as hyaluronic acid and niacinamide, are layered next if used.

As the last step in the morning, smooth a layer of a lightweight moisturiser over the skin and stick with an SPF that you trust.

As for the evening, night creams and sleeping masks take precedence over sun protection.


The best skin care products for skin flooding

When it comes to creating a skin flooding skin care routine, it’s important to pay attention to the formulas that work best for you. 

For example, if you know that moisturiser tends to clog your pores and lead to breakouts — skip it and stick to lightweight hydrating serums instead. 

If you have really dry skin, it might be beneficial to layer a few different formulas with different textures to ensure your skin stays moisturised throughout the day. 

In that case, layering thinner consistency products such as essences underneath a slightly thicker serum, and a moisturiser that’s even thicker still, is your best bet for long-lasting hydration. When in doubt, always layer from thinnest to thickest texture.

We recommend:

About Time We Met Refreshing Mist ($50 at About Time We Met); The Inkey List Polyglutamic Acid Serum ($22.49 at The Inkey List); Hada Labo Lotion No.1 Super Hydrator ($35.95 at Adore Beauty).

About Time We Met Refreshing Mist

The Inkey List Polyglutamic Acid Serum

Hada Labo Lotion No.1 Super Hydrator

Alpha-H Vitamin B Serum with 5% Niacinamide ($82 at Adore Beauty); LANEIGE Water Bank Blue HA Gel Moisturiser ($58 at Adore Beauty); and CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream ($38.99 at Adore Beauty).

Alpha-H Vitamin B Serum with 5% Niacinamide

LANEIGE Water Bank Blue HA Gel Moisturiser

CeraVe Skin Renewing Night Cream

From skin care to makeup, it seems we’re all craving wet-look skin right now. Say hello to the laminated skin trend.  

Main image credit: @jennierubyjane

Briar Clark got her start in the media industry in 2017, as an intern for Marie Claire and InStyle. Since then, her keen interest in fashion and beauty has landed her gigs as a Digital Content Producer and Beauty Editor with titles like Girlfriend, Refinery29, BEAUTYcrew and beautyheaven. She loves the way seemingly innocuous topics like skin care and style have the ability to put a smile on people’s faces or make them think about themselves a little differently. A big believer in self love and experimentation, Briar has made a point of becoming the Australian beauty industry’s unofficial guinea pig for unusual treatments and daring hair trends. When she’s not testing out the latest beauty launches, Briar is big on broadening her horizons, mostly in the form of food but she’s also partial to travelling to new destinations both near and far (and of course, allocating an extra bag to bring their best beauty offerings home with her).