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Skin Cycling: Discover The Dermatologist-Approved Skin Care Trend That’s Shaking Up Our Regular Routine.

Skin Cycling: Discover The Dermatologist-Approved Skin Care Trend That’s Shaking Up Our Regular Routine.
Writer and expert11 months ago
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Taking the skin care world (and our TikTok algorithms) by storm, skin cycling has made a major comeback in recent months as one of the top beauty topics. The trending movement suggests that we should consider skin care as a weekly routine (not daily) to maximize results, minimize irritation and avoid combining incompatible actives.

Accredited as the mind behind skin cycling is New York-based dermatologist, Dr. Whitney Bowe, who came up with the idea to help people be more strategic in their skin care rituals. She became concerned with the number of her patients infatuated with adding new steps to their routines – without knowing how to properly implement them – and causing some serious skin sensitivity.

To address this epidemic, she created an easy-to-follow regime and coined the skin cycling term. This resulted in a viral TikTok account, amassing over 16 million views on her most popular clip.


What is Skin Cycling and How Does it Work?


So, what is all the social platform-led fuss about?

Considered to be a more thoughtful approach to your PM skin care, skin cycling typically spans over four nights to maximize the efficacy of actives while protecting against unnecessary irritation. Notably, it optimizes the use of retinol, allowing it to work well without damaging the skin barrier.

The routine consists of two nights of treatment (exfoliation and retinol), followed by two nights of recovery (moisturizing). By alternating treatment and repair, your skin has time to rest, avoiding any potential abrasiveness.


What Are the Benefits of Skin Cycling?


Aside from protecting the skin, the benefits of skin cycling are plentiful and promising, as the trend gives each active its moment to revel in the spotlight – promoting more prominent visible results. With users claiming that skin cycling has ‘saved their skin’, there’s no wonder this TikTok trend is racking up some big numbers.


Below are some dermatologist-backed benefits of following Dr. Bowe’s regime:
  • Great for all skin types, especially sensitive
  • Improves the skin’s tolerance over time
  • Reduces redness, dryness and discomfort
  • Allows the use of chemical exfoliants and retinol in the same (weekly) routine
  • Easy to follow
  • Minimal steps
How to Create a Skin Cycling Routine


Creating a skin cycling routine is relatively easy and completely customizable to suit you. Firstly, cleanse as usual (be sure to double cleanse if you’re removing makeup) to prep the skin.


Night 1: Exfoliation

For many, exfoliation falls on the first night to help remove congestion, build-up and impurities from the pores and to get the most out of retinol on night two. A chemical exfoliant (AHA/BHA) is recommended rather than a harsher physical scrub.

Night 2: Retinol

Encouraging us to embrace retinol and not flee from the stronger active, Dr. Bowe’s regime features the use of this on night two. Arguably the star of the show, retinol packs a big multi-purpose punch in the world of skin care, as it helps to soften fine lines, clarify blemish-prone skin, smooth, brighten and unify tonal irregularities. Only including it on night two gives your skin time to recover and regenerate, ready for its next round.

Although skin cycling helps to reduce the side effects of retinol, it’s still important to choose a strength based on your skin’s tolerance.

Night 3 & 4: Recovery and Repair

Nights three and four are the time to nourish the skin barrier and microbiome with hydrating products. Most people just opt for an intensive moisturizeror night cream, but others like to add extra skin-quenching steps such as a vitamin E serum or an essence. Whatever you choose to include, be sure to look out for ingredients like ceramides, hyaluronic acid, niacinamideand omega fatty acids.

And that’s it! Begin the cycle again after four nights.


What About My Morning Routine?


As skin cycling is only implemented at night, your morning routine should remain simple (yet effective) with the usual steps you would take. Start off as you normally would with a light cleanser to remove any skin care residue from the previous night’s application.

Next, you can optionally add a vitamin C serum for its antioxidant protection and brightening benefits. Alternatively, you can skip straight to moisturizer to nourish and hydrate.

Lastly (and most importantly), complete your morning regime with a broad-spectrum SPF. This is particularly important after using exfoliants and retinols as the skin is more vulnerable to the effects of UV rays.

Writer and expert
View dermstore-editors's profile
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