If you spend time on #BeautyTok, you’ve likely come across the concept of skin cycling. Beauty experts swear by this method, advocating for a skincare routine change every night, typically on a four-day cycle, to maximize the benefits of each product. Is skin cycling just a trend, or is it a genuinely beneficial practice you should consider? Let’s delve into what skin cycling is and how to get started.
What is Skin Cycling?
Skin cycling involves scheduling the use of different skincare products. While commonly thought to follow a four-day cycle, dermatologists we consulted explained that this schedule can be adjusted to meet your skin’s specific needs. Cycling can also occur every few days or weeks instead of daily, spanning four days. The essence of skin cycling lies in alternating active ingredients and incorporating ‘rest days’ to maximize benefits and minimize irritation.
The four-day cycle focuses on nighttime skincare routines. Here’s a typical skin cycling plan: On the first night, use a chemical exfoliant to remove dead skin cells and deeply clean pores. On the second night, employ retinol to stimulate collagen and promote skin cell renewal for anti-aging effects. The third and fourth nights are ‘rest days,’ utilizing gentle products focused on hydration, nourishment, and repair to revitalize the skin.
Practicing Skin Cycling
Supporters of skin cycling often recommend a specific routine. Start with a gentle cleanser in your nightly regimen, avoiding potentially irritating ingredients like salicylic acid. Depending on the time of day, apply retinol (or retinoids), exfoliants, or moisturizing products. After applying active ingredients, ensure subsequent products provide adequate moisture. Choose a non-comedogenic moisturizer suitable for your skin type, containing ingredients like hyaluronic acid or niacinamide to lock in moisture.
Now, let’s explore what to do each night in a typical four-day cycle, but remember to tailor your routine to specific skin issues (dryness, oiliness, acne, or dullness) and establish a schedule that suits your habits. Increasing rest days is crucial if you notice any skin irritation.
Night 1: Exfoliation The first night involves exfoliation to remove dead skin cells, allowing subsequent products like AHA, BHA, and PHA to penetrate deeper. Chemical exfoliants are preferred over physical scrubs as they are gentler on the skin.
Night 2: Retinol The second night includes retinol, a form of vitamin A known for its anti-aging benefits, available over-the-counter or as prescription retinoids. Retinol helps reduce fine lines, wrinkles, pigmentation, and age spots.
Nights 3 and 4: Rest Focus on recovery during the third and fourth nights, using moisturizers and serums that emphasize hydration and nourishment, containing ingredients like niacinamide, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin.
Benefits of Skin Cycling:
- Enhanced Product Effectiveness: It can improve product effectiveness by alternating different products or ingredients, potentially yielding better results than continuous use.
- Irritation Prevention: Skin cycling helps prevent potential irritation, making it beneficial for those with sensitive skin or reactions to certain products.
- Optimal Hydration: Balancing stimulating products and exfoliants with simple cleansing and moisturizing aids in maintaining optimal skin hydration.
- Optimized Exfoliation: Alternating types of exfoliants or adjusting their frequency optimizes exfoliation effects without overuse, preventing damage to the skin barrier.
- Seasonal Adaptability: Skin cycling is particularly useful during temperature or seasonal changes, helping to retain moisture when transitioning from warm, humid conditions to colder and drier weather.
Who Should Try Skin Cycling?
While it can address specific issues, it may not be suitable for everyone. It’s particularly beneficial for those prone to acne as it helps reduce existing breakouts and prevent future ones. However, not all patients and clients are recommended this method. It’s essential for individuals with active acne, rosacea, or eczema to avoid skin cycling, as acids and retinol can irritate and damage the skin. Consultation with a dermatologist is crucial, especially for those using prescription medications.
For sensitive skin, precautions can minimize potential irritations. Conduct a patch test if you’re new to acids or retinol, introducing one active ingredient at a time and allowing your skin to acclimate before incorporating another.
If unsure about the suitability of skin cycling, consulting a dermatologist is advisable. However, with some precautions and attention to your skin’s reactions, trying it out on your own may also be worthwhile. Who knows? You might end up loving it.