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What Is Skin Cycling (And Should You Be Doing It?)

If you’re familiar with skincare trends, you’ve definitely heard of skin cycling by now. This latest term in skincare has taken the internet by storm. But what does it mean exactly? And should you be doing it? Let’s discuss it! 

What is skin cycling? 

This buzzy term is essentially a 4-day skincare routine that cycles the use of harsh ingredients that may irritate your skin, with 2 days of recovery. Although this trend originated on TikTok and quickly took off, it seems dermatologists are actually getting behind it. 

Specifically, skin cycling applies to your nighttime skincare routine. Night one and night two should include active ingredients such as AHA/BHA exfoliants and retinoids. Night three and night four you will scale back your nighttime routine to your simplest products. 

The idea behind this is that you’re preventing your skin barrier from being compromised due to the overuse of active ingredients. It also helps you stay on track with your skincare and lays out a specific regimen for you to follow. It takes the questioning out of when you should use your products and when you should give your skin a break. 

Here’s the breakdown of what skin cycling looks like: 

Night One: Exfoliant 

On the first night of your skin cycling routine, you will use your exfoliant. This can be a scrub or a chemical exfoliant - whatever you prefer. You’ll want to cleanse the skin first with your Cucumber Daily Cleanser, followed by the Exfoliant Face Scrub

Exfoliants can be harsh on the skin because they actively remove dead skin cells and other debris from your skin barrier to reveal a brand-new layer of smooth skin. Exfoliating is essential for skin care because it allows your other products to work deeper beneath your skin. Of course, you will want to follow up with your nighttime moisturizer.

Night Two: Retinoid 

On night two, you’ll skin the exfoliant and choose a product with a retinoid (vitamin A) instead. Cleanse your skin first, and follow with a retinoid cream or serum. Retinoids are a top ingredient for anti-aging because they actively target fine lines and wrinkles. 

Because of their powerful ability, retinoids are often known to irritate your skin. You may want to moisturize the areas you plan to use retinoid on before you use it. This will create a buffer between the retinoid and your skin. 

Night Three & Four: Recovery

The next two nights you will complete your regular skincare routine as if exfoliants and retinoids do not exist. This will look like a simple cleanser, toner, serum, and moisturizer. These products are typically used daily in the mornings and evenings and are made for all different skin types. 

The most important part of the recovery days is to remember to properly hydrate your skin barrier. Look for products that have hyaluronic acid and/or niacinamide which are two ingredients that lock in moisture and retain hydration. 

Following these steps for 4 nights and then repeating them allows you to target areas of concern without compromising your healthy skin barrier. Overall, skin cycling is encouraged by skin care experts, and is a new trend that you may actually want to try.