• 11/04/2022

What Is Skin Cycling? Breaking Down the Viral Trend

A woman lying in a bathtub looks at her face in a mirror.

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“Skin cycling” is the latest trend the internet is obsessed with. Everyone wants to take care of themselves, and the booming skincare industry proves that — the worldwide value of this sector is over $145 billion. More people are taking an interest in their skin health and appearance, and that number is sure to grow in the coming years. 

Skin cycling is a trend that allows people to use their products for longer and fully understand the effects that certain ingredients have on their skin.

What Exactly Is Skin Cycling?

Skin cycling is a term coined by Dr. Whitney Bowe, a dermatologist who shared her findings on TikTok after treating patients who made mistakes with their skin. It involves allowing your skin time to heal between products that might irritate it. The cycling aspect comes from rotating your products so you’re not using everything all in one night and not giving your skin a chance to breathe.

Many people have an extensive morning routine that keeps their skin healthy and glowing, but nighttime is when many of the more intense products get their moments in the spotlight. They have higher concentrations of ingredients that might leave your skin barrier irritated and tired. You can strategically plan your usage to give your skin barrier time to recover.

Woman dips her finger in a tub of moisturizer.

How to Cycle Through Your Products

Dr. Bowe’s method seeks to help people get back to the basics rather than sticking with an unrealistic skincare routine that does more harm than good due to irritation. The method she proposes is only four days long and looks like this:

  • First night: Use your cleanser as usual, then apply your exfoliant. Use moisturizer afterward.
  • Second night: This night will be the same as the previous one, but you’ll use retinol instead of exfoliant. The exfoliant will have left your skin smooth and in good shape for the retinol to penetrate the skin barrier.
  • Third and fourth night: Use cleanser and moisturize. No extra steps are needed so your skin can have a break.

Afterward, the cycle will start anew. Keeping up with your rotation routine may seem like a lot at first. Using a planner or calendar can help you make a plan and stick to it, and you won’t have to worry about remembering your routine when you’ve got so much else going on in your brain. In time, you may not have to use any aid to stay on track.

3 Must-Haves in Your Skin Care Routine

You’ll have to come equipped with the right materials to jump on the skin cycling trend. Start with gentler products until you know what your skin can handle. Then, you can graduate to products that may be a bit stronger.

1. Chemical Exfoliant

Chemical exfoliants might be more potent than gritty ones. They’re smoother and won’t feel like you’re scrubbing your skin to put them on. Exfoliating your face is a crucial step in your regular skincare routine, as it removes dead skin cells and helps your face appear brighter overall.

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting Exfoliant includes salicylic acid, which can slow down the process of aging. It’s on the more expensive side as far as skin care products go, but the results are worth it. Even better is that this product is great to use on sensitive skin.

The e.l.f. Gentle Peeling Exfoliant is great for people who still want an exfoliant for sensitive skin but want to stick to a budget. It’s cruelty-free and vegan, so you can use this gentle product and reap all its benefits — including the ones added by natural fruit ingredients.

2. Retinol

Retinol is another product you need to add to your lineup. The right retinol will increase your skin’s production of collagen, leaving you looking younger and with fewer fine lines. You don’t need to use a lot — a pea-sized amount for each area you want to apply it to will be enough. Always use retinol at night, unless you have a strong enough sunscreen to combat the damage the sun can do.

You may be familiar with CeraVe moisturizer, but the brand also carries a fantastic retinol serum for those looking to fight the effects of aging. It’s unscented and lightweight, making it an excellent option for even oily complexions.

A more affordable option might be the retinol 1% from The Ordinary. The Ordinary is a well-known skincare brand that provides lasting effects to its users. This retinol might be better for less-sensitive skin because of its strong, active ingredient.

3. Moisturizer

Moisturizers can do so many things, and they come in several forms, so people with all skin types can enjoy them. These products can help your skin repair any damage caused by dryness, and they’re great at protecting it from wrinkles and other potentially irritating products, like makeup. You need a moisturizer for every night of your skincare routine, regardless of if you’re exfoliating or using retinol. 

Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost is an excellent moisturizer if you want something lightweight that feels barely there. The hyaluronic acid keeps dry skin moist and feeling refreshed. You can use it day and night, and it goes well under makeup.

CeraVe’s Facial Moisturizing Lotion is made specifically for nighttime use. It’s gentle on your skin, perfect for when you need a light touch after exfoliating and using retinol. It’s also oil-free, so even people with oily skin can rejoice when using this product.

Take Care of Your Skin

You are the one who knows what’s best for your skin. If you see it start to get red and irritated more than usual, something about the product you’re using isn’t a great fit for you. Strive to find the best fit for your skin so you know it’s taken care of, no matter your skincare routine. Skin cycling is a great way to give your skin a rest and schedule a break while promoting a healthy glow.

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