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What is skin flooding, and why is TikTok suddenly so into it?

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Quick overview

Want plump, glowing, hella-hydrated skin? Of course, you do — and TikTok has a hack for that. Beauty enthusiasts on the platform are rejoicing over a new skin care trend with a catchy name — skin flooding. Predictably, the trend has to do with locking in heaps of hydration. But before you add a “flood warning” to your skin care routine, there’s some education to be had. Here’s the lowdown on the new derma trend taking over TikTok — and the products you need to get started on your skin-flooding journey.

Skin flooding isn’t actually as intimidating as it sounds. It’s just the process of intentionally layering your skin care products to boost skin hydration. Layering aside, the practice also involves selecting products with hydration-locking properties. Products that fit the bill contain hyaluronic acid, a water-retaining compound the body produces naturally, and niacinamide, a type of vitamin B3 that helps maintain healthy skin cells and boosts hydration.

“The principle behind skin flooding is to flood your skin with moisture,” board-certified dermatologist and skin care expert Dr. Andrea Suarez, known as Dr. Dray, said in a recent YouTube video on the trend. “It essentially entails starting on a clean base [by] washing your face. Then, after you rinse the cleanser off — to a damp face, apply hydrating ingredients.”

Dr. Dray says some people even apply a thermal water spray on their face between layers of product to keep their face extra damp. While the popular derm says this may be overkill, she adds that water in general plays a key role in healthy skin. (TikTok loves the Vichy Mineralizing Thermal Water Spray.)

This volcanic water mist has 15 essential minerals and antioxidants to hydrate your skin.
$12 at Ulta

“Water is so important because the enzymes that control how [skin] turns over and barrier function rely on water,” she says. “When your skin barrier becomes disrupted from different environmental stressors, medical conditions, or just age and underlying skin problems, the skin loses water. That’s what leads to dry skin, symptoms of sensitivity, and barrier impairment.”

Flooding dry and stressed skin attempts to restore hydration and balance the layers of your skin. According to Dr. Dray, a good routine for skin flooding is cleansing with a gel-based cleanser and then adding a hyaluronic acid serum. Then, add a niacinamide serum and a thick moisturizing cream as a final layer, locking in all the other hydrating or “flooding” ingredients for maximum absorption. Below are some of TikTok's favorite skin-flooding products:

This oil-free, foamy cleanser reduces blemishes and balances the oil in your skin.
$24 at Ulta
This has to be TikTok's favorite hyaluronic acid and it's just under $20.
$20 at Ulta


This serum is great for reducing shine and enlarged pores.
$6 at Ulta
This moisturizing cream is good for repairing dry, sensitive skin.
$48 at Ulta

You may be thinking, “Wait, this doesn’t sound that different than my current skin routine.” And you’d be right. According to Dr. Dray, skin flooding is just a trendy rebrand of popular principles in Korean and Japanese skin care. Simply put, “skin flooding” is just a cute name and nothing extremely novel.

“You’re just giving something a trendy name when, in reality, it’s something that has been done for a long time,” she says.

Dr. Dray warns that you “can have much of a good thing” when it comes to skin hydration. Just like a loss of hydration can impact skin barrier function, so can too much water content in the skin. Inviting a surplus of moisture in the skin can encourage your skin to absorb products deeply, which can possibly lead to skin irritation if you are using especially potent products on sensitive or damaged skin.

“As with everything you see on the internet, it is not a one-size-fits-all approach,” Dr. Dray says. “Just because it is trendy does not mean it will be right for you.” Now, those are words to live by.

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