What Is Skin Cycling?
Whether you’ve noticed your skin feeling tired, looking lackluster, or you’re gearing up for the change in weather, learn the ins and outs of TikTok’s latest obsession — skin cycling, a trend users are touting as transformative.
Ok, so what exactly is skin cycling?
Skin cycling isn’t anything “new,” but thanks to TikTok the classic dermatology treatment is trending. A term coined by New York-based dermatologist and author Dr. Whitney Bowe. The idea behind skin cycling is loosely based on the same concepts of recovering post-workout. By now, we know that replicating the same workout each day doesn’t exactly help (and sometimes hurts) our efforts to stay fit. Studies have found greater benefits in cycling through exercises or muscle groups (hello, leg day) in order to allow for adequate downtime between. Skin cycling is exactly this concept of “recovery” applied to the skin. Instead of using products with active ingredients each night, you cycle through active and inactive ingredients over the course of 3 or 4 days.
Does it really work?
When it comes to developing a skin care routine, there is endless amounts of information in circulation and various schools of thought on how many steps, which active ingredients to use and the order of layering. What we’ve learned is that more isn’t always better for the skin. Instead, using ingredients effectively and spacing them out between days can be beneficial. By placing too many ingredients on the skin — be it exfoliants, serums or moisturizers — it can lead to irritation and inflammation. This in turn can cause breakouts, uneven tone, and dryness. By cycling through products, you give the skin a chance to rest and reset, allowing the ingredients to do the work in between.
How to start the process
If you’re abiding by a 4-day cycle:
Night 1: Exfoliate
Night 2: Retinoids
Night 3: Recovery
Night 4: Recovery
By exfoliating the day before retinoids, you not only clear away dead skin, you set the stage for the retinoids to be able to penetrate. Following this, allow the skin to rest and recover with hydration and nourishing products to balance the skins natural barrier.
Skin cycling can look different for everyone. Some may see better results from a 3 or 5 day cycle, while others might not use retinoids. The theory behind this routine is that you focus on finding a routine of active and inactive ingredients that are beneficial to your skin type and allow them perform.
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