What is Skin Flooding and How Can It Help Acne-Prone Skin?

Is your skin both acne-prone and in desperate need of hydration? Skin flooding, a skincare trend on social media, may be the perfect choice to deeply hydrate your skin without clogging your pores.

What is Skin Flooding?

Skin flooding is a skincare technique where you apply several lightweight layers of moisturizing products on damp skin. The goal is to “flood” the skin with hydration and lock it in with a moisturizer. This method can be particularly beneficial for those with dry or dehydrated skin, but it can also be a useful way of keeping oily skin in good condition without adding rich products.

To implement skin flooding, you apply your products to wet skin and start with the thinnest, water-based products and move towards thicker serums and creamier textures so each layer can be fully absorbed. You can apply each product with gentle patting motions to enhance absorption without pulling or dragging the skin.

Skin Flooding for Acne 

Contrary to popular belief, acne-prone skin can be dry as well as oily, and sometimes we can start with oily skin and then dehydrate it through harsh acne treatments. Adding moisture back to the skin without causing breakouts can be a tricky balance, as many rich and heavy creams that soothe our skin can also clog our pores


Have you heard about skin flooding? Here’s the truth behind the trend. #skinflooding #dermatologist #hyaluronicacid #dryskin

♬ original sound – Skincare From A to Dr Z

Skin flooding can be a great way to hydrate acne-prone skin, particularly when it has been sensitized by too many active ingredients and it therefore craves moisture. 

Here are six ways that skin flooding can be beneficial if you are acne-prone:

1. Balances Sebum Production

Dehydrated skin can trigger an overproduction of oil (sebum) as a response to a lack of moisture, potentially leading to clogged pores and acne. By deeply hydrating your skin, skin flooding can help to regulate sebum production, reducing the likelihood of more pimples.

2. Reduces Inflammation

Acne-prone skin typically suffers from inflammation. Hydrating ingredients used in skin flooding often have anti-inflammatory properties that can help soothe and calm inflamed skin, reducing redness and discomfort associated with acne.

3. Strengthens Skin Barrier

A damaged skin barrier can lead to various skin issues, including acne, but it can be hard to find barrier repair products that are safe for acne-prone skin. Layering hydrating products can help strengthen your skin’’s protective barrier, preventing environmental irritants and bacteria (which can exacerbate acne) from entering your skin.

4. Promotes Healing

Hydrated skin heals faster than dehydrated skin. By ensuring the skin is adequately moisturized, skin flooding can aid in the quicker healing of existing acne while also reducing the chances of scarring.

5. Supports Retinoid Use

You can also use skin flooding to help support skin when it’s going through the retinol uglies by using lightweight hydrating products before your retinoid to help “buffer” your skin and prevent irritation.

6. Acne-Safe Skincare Trend

One of the smaller difficulties of dealing with acne is not being able to use many of the skincare products and trends that you see on social media (we’re looking at you, slugging). If you have felt left behind by #SkinTok, then embrace skin flooding as a trend you can safely enjoy with acne-prone skin. 

Skin Flooding Routine

Skin flooding emphasizes the importance of layering products while the skin is still damp from each previous step, as this can help to maximize hydration absorption. Spraying your skin between each step with either a can of thermal water or tap water in a mister bottle can help maintain moisture during your routine.

While skin flooding can be beneficial for acne-prone skin, it’s important to select the right products. Products should be non-comedogenic (not pore-clogging) and suitable for acne-prone skin. Look for lightweight products with hydrating ingredients such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin when skin flooding, and avoid heavy creams or oils that can clog pores.

The process typically involves the following steps, but you can choose how many products to apply:


Start by cleaning your face to ensure that the skin can fully absorb the hydrating products more effectively. Use a gentle, hydrating cleanser that won’t strip your skin, or a mild cleanser with active ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid if your skin tolerates it. Leave your skin damp or follow with a thermal water spray to hydrate for the next step.

CeraVe Hydrating Cream-to-Foam Cleanser

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Applying a hydrating toner with either a cotton pad or your fingers will begin the hydration process, balance your skin’s pH, and enhance the absorption of your other products. Make sure to choose a hydrating and soothing toner, ideally alcohol-free, to prep your skin without drying it out. This can also be a good step to add a salicylic acid product to clear your pores and cut through oil if needed.

COSRX Hydrium Watery Toner with Hyaluronic Acid

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Thayers Milky Face Toner with Snow Mushroom

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An essence can be used in addition to, or interchangeably with, a hydrating toner. Originally popularized in Korea, an essence is a lightweight liquid rich in hydrating ingredients. Essences typically have a thinner consistency than serums and are less concentrated with active ingredients. They hydrate your skin and help to prepare it for the more concentrated treatments that follow. 

Good Molecules Hyaluronic Acid Boosting Essence

$14.00 ($3.50 / Fl Oz)
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BENTON Fermentation Essence Skin Care

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A serum is a highly concentrated formulation designed to deliver potent ingredients directly into the skin. They are used before moisturizing, serving as an important step in skincare routines for those seeking targeted results. Look for a hydrating serum with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or panthenol which are all humectants, meaning they attract and hold moisture in the skin.

Vichy Mineral 89 Fortifying & Hydrating Booster

$29.99 ($17.75 / Fl Oz)
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The last step of skin flooding is to apply a moisturizer to lock in all of this hydration and protect the skin barrier. Unlike other hydrating products, moisturizers usually have occlusive properties, meaning they form a protective barrier on your skin’s surface to prevent transepidermal water loss, which is the evaporation of water from the skin’s surface into the surrounding air. Choose a moisturizer that can seal in the hydration without clogging your pores, such as a gel-cream formulation.

ETUDE SoonJung Hydro Barrier Soothing Cream

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Other Benefits of Skin Flooding

Beyond helping with acne, many people can benefit from skin flooding. By tailoring the selection of products to skin needs and concerns, skin flooding can be a versatile and effective approach for anyone looking to boost their skin’s hydration, health, and overall appearance.

  • Improved Hydration: By applying a series of hydrating products in quick succession, skin flooding ensures that moisture is deeply infused into the skin, helping to alleviate dryness and dehydration.
  • Reduced Appearance of Fine Lines and Wrinkles: Hydrated skin appears more plump as moisture can help to temporarily diminish the visibility of fine lines and wrinkles, promoting a smoother skin texture.
  • Enhanced Absorption of Active Ingredients: Moisture can enhance the absorption of the active ingredients in serums and treatments that follow.
  • Calming and Soothing Effects: The layering of hydrating and soothing ingredients can calm irritated and inflamed skin, making skin flooding an ideal technique for those with sensitive or reactive skin types.
  • Radiant and Healthy Complexion: Hydrated skin reflects light better, giving your complexion a natural, healthy glow. Regular skin flooding can lead to a more even skin tone and texture over time.
  • Environmental Dryness: An effective hydrating skincare routine like skin flooding can be particularly beneficial during colder months or in dry climates where your skin tends to lose moisture more easily. 

Skin flooding is an approach to hydration that can be easily adapted to acne-prone skin. By layering lightweight hydrating products on damp skin you can give your face a thorough drenching of moisture without it feeling smothered. You’re not only locking in moisture but also fortifying your skin’s natural protective barrier, creating an environment that’s less hospitable to acne-causing bacteria while soothing irritated and inflamed skin. 

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