Skin Flooding, Moisture Sandwiching, & Layering: The Ultimate Guide
What's the Difference?
Skin Flooding and Moisture Sandwiching are the latest trends on SkinTok (aka skincare TikTok), but are they really new news? Not really! In fact, both techniques owe their origin to the age old method of Layering.
Asian women have been layering their skincare products for ages. In fact, we can thank K-Beauty in general for this practice, though it isn't limited to Korean beauty. The intention of layering skin care is to apply products in a specific order to maximize the benefits of each product, specifically applying your products in order from lightest to heaviest, or least molecularly dense to most. That's because thinner and/or more watery products can penetrate more easily because of their smaller particle sizes. These products include Toners, Essences and Serums, generally in that order.
Skin Flooding is really just Layering for dry skin! After cleansing, simply tailor your skincare ritual to lock in moisture for a glowing, dewy complexion that seems so elusive during cold winter months. The key to Skin Flooding is applying a product containing hyaluronic acid onto damp skin to grab water and pull it into the skin, followed by a moisturizer to lock in that hydration. Our simple Skin Flooding ritual: first wash with our Purifying Cleanser, then apply a few drops of our Moisture Replenishing Serum to damp skin, and finish off with a layer of our Overnight Recovery cream! Want to level-up the simple Skin Flooding ritual? Spray with our Facial Mist before the serum to add a bonus boost of hydration with Cottongrass.
Moisture Sandwiching is the cool new term for.....Layering! There is no real difference between the two practices, except we like the term Layering because the technique works whether your skin is dry, oily, flaky, breakout-prone, sensitive, dull, or all of the above! Simply pick the steps in your routine to address your different skin needs, and follow the general technique of layering from lightest to heaviest products.
Now that you understand the (not so big) difference between Layering, Skin Flooding, and Moisture Sandwiching, let's go into some detail to help you hop on the trend and have fun!
The Ideal Order for Your Ritual
Cleanser should be the obvious first step in your skincare, right? But now that “double cleansing” is common, which cleanser comes first? Oil-based makeup removers and/or micellar waters, like our Hydrate Refreshing Micellar Water, are first up. This helps to clear clogged pores from makeup, dead skin cells, or excessive facial oil, which can be especially beneficial for those with oily skin. Finish your double cleansing with a gentle purifying cleanser to remove toxins and leftover makeup, and add back skin protecting naturals.
After cleansing, grab a toner! Toners can help boost your overall routine effectiveness in the process of layering skin care because they help your skin be more receptive to other products, such as hydrating serums. Toners are typically followed by essences, which help boost moisture and brighten skin, and then by serums, which are designed to act as targeted treatments for specific skin needs such as dryness, dullness, or wrinkles.
The ideal serum for your routine is one with an active ingredient that helps address what your skin needs. By listening to your skin, you can go beyond skin type to give it the treatment it really craves. And don’t be afraid to hydrate your skin even if you perceive yourself as having oily skin. Learn more here.
Heavier-hitters like oils, eyes creams, and moisturizers come next-to-last or last. The occlusive nature of these products works to keep the hydration, antioxidants, and vitamins you just added in and on your skin. If your eye cream is richer and heavier than your moisturizer, it should go on top. If it's lighter, it should go under your moisturizer. Moisturizers with SPF are critical if you plan on heading outside - you want to protect your skin from the aging effects of the sun!
General Skin Care Layering Tips & Some Caveats
An overall BIG TIP is to allow some time between each step, especially the step between serums, oils, and active ingredient treatments and more occlusive products, like eye creams and moisturizers. One way to do this is to keep your favorite moisturizer in your nightstand and apply it just before turning out the light.
Another pro tip is to allow your skin to adjust to any new product for at least a week, especially if you’ve experienced sensitive skin, before you start mixing and layering with abandon. Then, if your skin becomes irritated, you'll be able to isolate the culprit more easily.
Listen to Your Skin
By following these guidelines, you’ll be well on your way to being a Layering Master, but you may find that you like to change up the order a bit. In time you’ll learn how to listen to your skin and adapt the products and the order in which you layer them to your skin’s changing needs. Have fun!
About the author, Naomi Furgiuele
Naomi is the founder of Nuria and a self-professed nerd with a love for all things science and skin care. She’s had a hand in product development for some of the biggest global beauty brands in the business, gets some of her best ideas while out on a run, and loves her exfoliator almost as much as her awesome family.