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Flood test

Skin flooding is a social media trend on the rise, and you might see clients asking about it in salon soon – Ellen Cummings asks the experts how it works and who it can benefit

Al though the concept is nothing new to beauty therapists, skin flooding is gaining popularity among consumers on TikTok, with 12.7k views and rising. It essentially involves layering multiple skincare products onto damp skin to lock in moisture and help skin appear smoother and softer.

Dr Charlotte Woodward, co-founder of River Aesthetics clinics and new brand Skin Bureaux, says, “It’s the latest buzzword but simply involves layering serums and creams to ‘flood’ the skin with hydration, increase the efficacy and absorption of products, and protect the skin barrier. Flooding works to prevent moisture from evaporating (known as TEWL or transepidermal water loss), making sure skin feels comfortable and hydrated,” she adds.

It can also be used to provide a hydrated glow and plumping effect for the skin. “This can really enhance the look of your make-up because it’s promoting hydration in the skin. If you have dry or dehydrated skin, then it’s really beneficial,” explains celebrity make-up artist and skincare specialist Nathalie Eleni.

Hydration station

Skin flooding involves four simple steps: cleansing the skin, spritzing on a mist, applying serums, then moisturising. While you might think the focus would be on serums and misting, it turns out that cleansing is actually the most crucial step in skin flooding. “Prior to skin flooding, it’s really important to make sure that skin is thoroughly cleansed,” says Eleni. “The last thing you want to do is to layer products on uncleansed skin because you’ll have a build-up of sweat, oil and pollution which is going to get trapped. This means that skincare products won’t absorb properly and make-up won’t apply well, and it could compromise the health of the skin.”

After cleansing, apply the first layer of serum while the face is still damp. From here the flooding method can vary, but it usually involves using a face mist between each layer of serum before finishing with a moisturiser to lock in the products. The order in which you apply products can affect how effectively they’re absorbed. “You should always start with products with a thinner consistency then finish with the thickest consistency,” comments aesthetics doctor Dr Ahmed El Muntasar.

When it comes to which products to use, Eleni says, “It’s really important not to just follow a trend, but to make it relatable to your client’s skin type and concerns”. In general, serums that contain peptides or humectants like hyaluronic acid are ideal for skin flooding, while El Muntasar also recommends ceramides. “If the skin feels dull, then a lactic acid toner or lotion will be good because it will lift off any dead skin cells and brighten the skin,” adds Eleni.

Flooding works to LOCK IN MOISTURE and prevent transepidermal water loss, making sure skin feels COMFORTABLE AND HYDRATED

One method of skin flooding involves targeting specific areas. Eleni explains, “For example, the cheeks and undereyes might be quite dry so you’ll want to put more product there. However, the T-zone might be more combination, in which case you might want to use more mattifying products after you’ve layered a serum.”

Timing can also be important. “Our skin loses the most moisture while we are sleeping, so skin flooding at night can help to restore plump and radiant skin by morning,” says Woodward.

Managing make-up

The skin’s hydration levels can really impact the look of make-up on the skin, so skin flooding can help to achieve certain looks. Eleni explains, “I like to have the skin very hydrated for a red-carpet, glowy look; I like to buff the foundation onto the skin before the hydration is absorbed because you have all of that moisture to sheer out the foundation to give it a very natural finish.

“However, if you’re looking for longevity and fuller coverage in make-up then it’s really important to let each skincare stage absorb into the skin, because if you’re layering too much then it can become sticky or greasy, or it can make your make-up pill.”

Skin trends

Skin flooding gained prominence during the winter months due to the drying effect of cold weather and central heating. “The internet loves skin trends, and they come in waves,” says El Muntasar. “The winter months were all about moisturising. Using keywords such as flooding is also good clickbait, so people love that.”

Its popularity may also be a consequence of more aggressive skin trends over the past few years. For example, the overuse of trending ingredients such as exfoliating acids and retinoids can impair skin barrier function and lead to tight, dry, itchy, and flaky skin.

Skin changes caused by the menopause or other hormonal changes can also lead to skin dryness. Increased discussions about this area of skin health have led to a search for appropriate skincare solutions to help.

This article appears in May 2023

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May 2023
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