Skin Cycling 101

Skin Cycling 101

Skin cycling is the latest trend to go viral, and unlike other trends, this one comes from an actual dermatologist. The method, originally coined by dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe who recommends rotating or “cycling” through skincare products in the evening to prevent irritation and promote skin recovery.

Let's dive into what skin cycling is, how it works and who it benefits.

What is Skin Cycling and How is it done?

Skin cycling is a four-night routine that involves rotating through actives and phasing in time for recovery and barrier repair. Once you finish the cycle, you repeat the process. The strategic approach to skin care drives results and minimises irritation, regardless of skin type.

How Skin Cycling Works -

Night 1: Exfoliation

On this night, the aim is to gently exfoliate the skin and get rid of dead skin cells. You can use actives such as AHA, BHA or PHA. Remember to use an exfoliator that works for your skin type and not overdo it. 

Night 2: Retinoids

This night is focused on retinoids, which are vitamin A derivatives that can help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. These include prescription medications, like tretinoin, and gentler, over-the-counter products, like retinol. 

Before applying, be sure to cleanse and pat dry and NEVER USE RETINOIDS ON DAMP SKIN!!

Note: If you’ve never used retinoids before, we’d suggest doing a patch test or consulting with your dermatologist before you start to use one. 

Nights 3 and 4: Recovery

The recovery period, typically nights three and four, is the final step. On recovery nights, you hold off on the exfoliating acids and retinoids and give your skin a chance to recover by focusing on hydration.

What are the benefits of skin cycling? 

  • It’s a safe way to introduce actives to the skin 

  • Skin Cycling is a great way to introduce actives in your skincare routine, especially if you are overwhelmed with what to use and how often to use it. 

  • It’s beginner friendly 

  • There’s no doubt about it: Skincare can be complicated. One of the benefits of this four-day cycle is that it works for anyone, regardless of your knowledge of skincare. Starting with a skin cycling regimen is a good starting point for most people since it’s an easy method that does not require much thought over what products to use and when.

  • It protects your skin barrier 
  • The biggest benefit of skin cycling is that it protects your skin barrier, which is key for overall skin health. Exfoliating too often can compromise and even damage the skin barrier, leading to dehydration, redness, irritation, and acne. Skin cycling prevents irritation and over-exfoliation, allowing you to be consistent with key active ingredients. 

    In practice, your cycle timing can depend on skin type, and your dermatologist may suggest personalising it further. Dr. Bowe suggests that if you are experiencing sensitivity and irritation, you can increase your recovery nights or, if you are seasoned and well adjusted to your retinoid and want to dial up, you can omit one recovery night for a three-night cycle.

    Ultimately, skin cycling is a term to describe a safe, responsible skincare regimen. It may not work for everyone, which is why it’s best to see a dermatologist to get a routine tailored to your unique needs.

    If you’re looking for a way to refresh your skincare routine, it’s worth giving skin cycling a try. But remember that sticking to a consistent regimen is the best way to get results irrespective of skin cycling or not. 

    Until next time, 

    Stay Curious, Stay #freequal 

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