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What is skin cycling and is it for everyone?

What is skin cycling and is it for everyone?

Header image for article skin cycling

Have you heard of the term skin cycling? Like other skincare trends that pop up on the internet once in a while, skin cycling is the talk of the town and has been gaining momentum among skincare nerds. So, with the focus of creating a minimal skincare routine that is both simple and effective, this skin cycling method has charmed everyone out there considering a change in their skincare routine to test this method out and see results for themselves!

What is skin cycling?

Skin cycling is the method of alternating skincare products for four nights during your night time skincare routine, where you focus on treating your skin for the first two nights and aim to recover for the last two nights. It is popularized by dermatologist Whitney Bowe, founder of Dr. Whitney Bowe Beauty, who says ‘skin cycling’ is a technique that offers minimum irritation while delivering optimum results.
You can repeat this cycle and return to the beginning once you complete a process. Here is how it works.image description of skin cycling

Night One: exfoliation

The first night of the skin cycling process is exfoliation. Exfoliation will set the tone for the upcoming nights as it helps remove dead skin cells and make room for newer and fresher cells to emerge, and also it will boost the effectiveness of skincare products.
First, wash your face with your daily cleanser, pat the skin to dry and then apply an exfoliator. Use chemical exfoliators like Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) or Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA) instead of physical exfoliators, as chemical exfoliators are gentler on the skin. Using exfoliators will help products penetrate more deeply into the skin and increase collagen production to give healthier and younger-looking skin.

Night two: retinol

For the second night, use retinol products instead of exfoliators. First, wash your face with a cleanser and then apply your retinol. Retinol speeds up the cell turnover process and helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while also fading dark spots and improving skin complexion. If you are new to retinol and just starting the journey, apply hydrating creams to the sensitive area of your skin, like the under-eye area. Retinol is a powerful ingredient that can irritate sensitive and reactive skin, so make sure you are using gentle retinol and work your way up once you get used to it.

Night three and four: recovery

Now is the time to give your skin a break and focus on repairing and recovering. Ditch on the exfoliator and retinol for these two nights and apply your serum or moisturizer with repairing and hydrating ingredients like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, ceramide, etc., after cleansing your face. The purpose of nights three and four is to prevent over-exfoliation and bring balance to your skin. So, the risk of irritation is minimized, and the prospect of repairing the skin barrier is maximized.

What is the benefit of skin cycling?

The whole purpose of this ‘skin cycling’ technique is to reap the maximum benefits while using minimum products. It limits the overuse of products as each night has a specific task of serving its purpose to the skin. For the first night, you use chemical acids like AHAs and BHAs to eliminate dead skin cells and reveal fresher and newer skin cells. This way, your skin can achieve better penetration of products as the skin is now clear from all the impurities stuck on the skin’s surface layer. Next night you use retinol which is quite effective on the skin; however, it can irritate some skin as it is a powerful ingredient, and when used in excessive amounts, it can cause more harm than good. So this is when skin cycling comes to the rescue, as this routine will limit retinol usage and give directions on how often and on which night it should be used so that we do not follow the same process too many times in a row and irritate the skin. You make time for recovery on the next two nights by using hydrating and skin-strengthening products. The skin is thus replenished and repaired by the end of the cycle.

Skin cycling brings balance to the skin by aiming for repair and recovery after treating it with exfoliators and retinol, thus decreasing the possibility of skin irritation.

Is skin cycling for everyone?

Everyone has their skin type, and not everything can be for everyone, right? However, this skin cycling can be like a basis for your skincare routine, and you can modify and make some tweaks here and there according to your skin’s needs and goals. You can increase the recovery nights if you have sensitive skin and if you experience irritation. For those who can tolerate retinol well, go for extra retinol nights if that’s what your skin requires. If you are experiencing severe inflammation and irritation with retinol, know that your skin needs a break and that you need to see a dermatologist. Also, people with certain skin conditions like rosacea, eczema, severe acne, etc., need to check in with a dermatologist to tailor their routine accordingly before trying it out, as it is all about listening to your skin and what it wants.

Final thoughts on skin cycling

Well, skin cycling has gained traction among skincare newbies and veterans alike. Why? Because it has shown incredible results.
Every skin type can benefit from following the skin cycling method. You can customize it according to your skin’s concerns and needs. You should keep in mind that, like any skincare routine, skin cycling is also a routine that should be followed consistently to get desired results; however, you can always stop if you experience serious irritation and inflammation. If you have a severe skin condition, consult a dermatologist on how to go about with the routine accordingly.

Written By

Beauty Editorial Team




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