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‘Skin Flooding’: Is TikTok’s Viral Trend Right for Women Over 50?

Plus: Get a peek at Martha Stewart’s ‘unfiltered’ selfie

spinner image a woman applies a facial product while holding out the container
iStock / Getty Images Plus

While the majority of TikTok beauty trends are best left to Gen Z — and maybe even they should avoid the “lip wings” and “false eye bags” that have been making the rounds recently — there’s one beauty trend women over 50 would be well advised to try: skin flooding.

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What is skin flooding?

As the name suggests, the trend involves “flooding” dry skin with moisture by layering damp skin with a series of hydrating mists, serums and creams. “The idea is to start with a humectant-rich, lightweight product first and then add a thicker emollient to seal in the moisture on the skin,” says New York City dermatologist Dhaval Bhanusali, whose patients include the eternally dewy octogenarian Martha Stewart. (Need proof? See the 81-year-old lifestyle entrepreneur’s Instagram humblebrag here.)

While skin of all ages can benefit from this intensely hydrating practice — especially during the winter when cold weather, wind and dry indoor heat can wreak havoc on the skin barrier — dermatologists say it is particularly well suited for mature skin. “Over time, as both men and women age, our skin gets drier as collagen breaks down and there are fewer natural oils,” says Bhanusali. After menopause, women are particularly hard hit as the loss of estrogen and other hormonal imbalances accelerate these changes in skin. “Flooding the skin with moisture is a great way to compensate for that moisture loss,” he adds.

How to practice skin flooding

When layering moisturizers, always start with your thinnest product and end with your heaviest, says Bhanusali. “This enhances absorption. For example, it’s beneficial to apply a serum first and then layer with a heavier moisturizer to seal in the ingredients and hydration. If your first product is too thick or occlusive, it can affect penetration of other products and compromise function.”

spinner image green bottles containing moisturizing products on a white field / CeraVe / / SkinCeuticals

Start by washing skin with a gentle, non-soap cleanser like Pause Hydrating Cleanser ($32,, CeraVe Hydrating Facial Cleanser ($15,, or Cetaphil ($22, Next, spritz slightly damp skin with a hydrating mist like SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Essence Mist ($67,, Mario Badesco Rosewater Facial Spray ($12, or Avene Thermal Spring Water ($19, If you use a mist or toner, be sure to pick one that is moisturizing and avoid any that contain drying alcohol or potentially irritating ingredients like salicylic acid. (Feel free to skip the misting step if you are in a rush, on a budget or simply can’t be bothered with three steps, but make sure to leave skin damp after cleansing before moving on to the next step.)

spinner image white bottled moisturizing products on a white field / The Ordinary / / La Roche-Posay

Don’t wait for the hydrating mist to dry. Instead, while skin is still glistening, apply a moisturizing serum that contains hyaluronic acid, a natural humectant that can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in moisture. Payot Lisse Plumping Booster ($58, contains a highly concentrated version of hyaluronic acid. For a less expensive version, try The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid Serum ($9 for 1 ounce, or L’Oréal Paris Revitalift 1.5% Pure Hyaluronic Acid Serum ($21, “Humectants act like a sponge so if you apply them to damp skin, they will bind water to the skin,” says Bhanusali. Once you’ve flooded the skin with moisture, lock it in by applying an emollient cream that contains ceramides and/or squalene such as Babor Collagen Cream ($155,, La Roche-Posay Double Repair Face Moisturizer ($21,, or Neutrogena Hydro Boost Face Moisturizer ($21, “Emollients act as a barrier, allowing your body to retain moisture rather than lose it to the environment,” he notes.

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If, at the end of all this flooding, your skin looks like somebody could go swimming in your face, pat yourself on the back — and consider investing in a selfie ring light. After all, if Martha Stewart can rack up 78 million views on TikTok plugging dewy skin at 81, there’s no such thing as an age barrier anymore. As Iris Apfel once said, “When we were children, we all played dress up and everybody had a good time. So why stop?”

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