Truth Behind the Skin Cycling Trend

On social media, you may have seen many, many posts about skin cycling - the latest beauty trend for glowing skin. But what does skin cycling mean? It sounds a little like facial rolling - you might be wondering, does this involve a skincare tool?

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Not necessarily, but this skincare technique is certainly making ripples across the beauty sphere. Here’s our explainer on skin cycling and how to add it to your beauty routine.

This exfoliating serum from Dr Jart+ is perfect in a skin cycling routine to help minimise pores and mattify skin.

What is Skin Cycling?

Dr Bowe is a dermatologist whose version of skin cycling has completely dominated the social media space. Her method, focusing on her nighttime routine, suggests a cycle of:

  • Day 1: Exfoliation
  • Day 2: Retinol
  • Day 3: Recovery
  • Day 4: Recovery

She explains that this method optimises results with minimal irritation. By using an exfoliant on the night before your retinol, you make sure that there are no lingering dead skin cells in the way, boosting effectiveness while minimising irritation.

The two recovery days make sure that your skin barrier stays intact, giving your skin a rest from actives. This makes sure your skin doesn’t get so angry and irritated that you’d need to stop your skincare routine completely, holding you back from the results that you’re looking for.

Clear skin and boost your anti-ageing potential with this Retinol Oil from Dermalogica. Skin cycling can help you make the most of this clinically-proven formula. 

At the core of it, skin cycling is the method of alternating your skincare steps on different days. It can sound a little convoluted, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be organised by a full 4 day structure! 

Simply alternating usage days of a certain skincare product counts as skin cycling. Creating your perfect skin cycle routine depends on how many actives you use, and your own personal skin goals. However, we do recommend starting with Dr Bowe’s method as a foundation, and tweaking it to your skin as you see results. 

This effective retinol serum from Murad can help deliver consistent anti-ageing benefits to skin - especially when implemented as part of a skin cycling routine.

Why Are People Skin Cycling?

Skin cycling is growing in popularity as a way to get all the benefits of your skincare routine - especially if you use a lot of active ingredients - without accidentally overloading your skin. This means that your skin can get more benefits from your skincare routine without accidental irritation! 

For example, instead of using your retinol right after your exfoliator (this is a recipe for angry, irritated skin), on the same night, you might use your exfoliator one night, then retinol the next night. 

Elizabeth Arden Visible Difference Peel & Reveal Revitalizing Mask resurfaces skin with an effective yet gentle blend of exfoliators. This peel-off mask harnesses the powers of AHAs and BHAs for smooth, radiant skin.

Doesn’t Using Skincare Infrequently Make It Ineffective?

Because skin cycling often takes course over the place of a few days, or a week at most, it’s still consistent enough to make a difference to the natural 28 day skin regeneration cycle. Studies of many active ingredients, including retinol, have found that consistency is better than higher frequency or higher concentrations of product.

This is especially true for retinol - over time, your skin gets more benefit from consistent use three days a week compared to a user who uses it nightly right away, causing irritation and therefore halting retinol use for the next few weeks while their skin heals. Ouch! 

La Prairie Cellular 3-Minute Peel Resurfacing Mask sloughs away dead skin cells for glowing skin with a blend of exfoliating acids proven to rejuvenate and bring a glow to skin.

The Benefits of Skin Cycling

So, what are the benefits of skin cycling? TikTok users and Instagrammers are raving about this skincare method, but what real benefits will it bring to your skin?

In a world where we’re constantly trying to calculate the pH of actives and account for waiting times with layering multiple products, skin cycling provides a convenient solution to making the most of skincare. Here are the top three benefits of skin cycling.

Murad Replenishing Multi-Acid Peel is an exfoliator like you’ve never tried before. The dual-phase formula effectively exfoliates your skin while leaving it feeling soft and nourished for glowing skin!

Your Skin Benefits from Multiple Actives

The truth is, layering actives can be incredibly tricky to get all their benefits without irritation. It’s more likely that you might accidentally deal with a red, stinging face instead! Skin cycling gives your skin a chance to truly benefit from difference actives such as AHAs, BHAs, and Retinol in your skincare routine without causing unnecessary dryness and redness. 

Skin Cycling Supports a Healthy Moisture Barrier

One of the most important benefits of skin cycling is that it’s a way to get the most of active ingredients while making sure your moisture barrier stays intact. Also called the acid mantle, this is a fundamental skin structure that helps make sure your skin is in tip top shape. 

The moisture barrier helps lock hydration into your skin, warding off dehydration and irritation for a radiant glow. This structure can easily be disturbed by over-exfoliation - so a break from actives at least one or two days a week while skin cycling is essential for healthy skin.

You’ll Get Better Results from Your Skincare

Because skin cycling makes it easy to be consistent with your skincare, it’s one of the best ways to make sure that you’re getting the promised results. This is specially in comparison to a skincare routine that’s constantly start and stop due to over-exfoliation. 

Over time, you’ll find that your skin stays glowing and stays firmer thanks to your consistent skincare routine - and ultimately, isn’t that the goal here? 

A gentle skin polishing exfoliant formulated for daily use, to gently delaminate dead skin cells and stimulate cell regeneration. Facial skin is left looking radiant and smooth, perfectly prepared for moisturizing. 

Skin Cycling: The Bottom Line

Skin cycling may be a new term in the skincare world, but it’s certainly not a completely new concept. Many people have been alternating their skincare routine, however as more and more products come out, it can be hard to harness the benefits of all the actives that you want to. 

Skin cycling offers a way to alternate products and get the benefits of all of your skincare without accidentally compromising your skin, making it an expert-approved skincare technique. 

Not sure about how to create a skincare routine in the first place? Try our skin analysis!

Skin Analysis Quiz

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Alexis Adrienne

Alexis Adrienne

Alexis Adrienne is a passionate beauty writer with over 10 years of experience. She’s incredibly keen on all things skincare, makeup and cosmetics, with a fingertip on the pulse of the latest global beauty trends at all times.

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