Skin Cycling: A TikTok Trend, or Strategic Skincare? 

We've all been there- in the skincare aisle, deep in overwhelm. The pressure to decide on a serum feels like a mini grenade that will go off in your hand if you choose the wrong product. 

That is why when it comes to skincare, makeup, and cosmetic treatments, it's best to go to where you can get real-time trends, testimonials, and new technologies.

Have you ever found yourself in a #tiktokmademebuyit situation? 
In a world where most people are giving their attention AND getting their information from social media, it can be easy to be sold on products that give your favorite influencer "good" results. 

In case you like transparency, beauty culture is about fueling capitalism. It's ok to acknowledge that without judgment. It's simply about awareness and knowing that, most of the time, someone behind the suggestion is motivated by financial gain. 

Influencers, bloggers, and our peers can glamorize elaborate skincare + makeup routines, fully stuffed beauty closets, and futuristic beauty tools. But is it TRULY necessary? 

Yes, skincare + cosmetics can play a leading role in your beauty story, and having a supportive beauty routine is vital to optimizing your skin health. With that said, you don't need an elaborate 7-step skincare routine. 

It is more effective to take a conscious beauty approach and choose a more straightforward skincare routine but with more intention while supporting your skin from the inside out

As a beauty and wellness coach, I like to remind people that human skin has been around much longer than skincare. When you can respect the skin as an organ rather than view it as just an esthetic playground, it's easier to experience a more pleasurable relationship with your body.

What is Skin Cycling?

Skin cycling is a methodical skincare approach created by board-certified dermatologist and scientist Dr. Whitney Bowe. Her approach has reached over 3.5+ billion views on TikTok and has been covered by the press. 

The basic concept involves cycling the PM (nighttime) skincare routine to incorporate different steps and active ingredients on different nights of the week. This process allows the skin to build a tolerance to actives and minimize irritation, leading to healthier, more radiant skin by focusing on exfoliation, retinoid incorporation, deep hydration, and skin barrier recovery. 

Skin cycling is about doing less but with more intentional + effective products. Streamlining your skincare approach instead of the "more is better" obsession.

Have you ever experienced irritation, red blotches, or thought your skin was "purging" for months? If so, the reason is that you may be using too many products that are not working well together. 

Disproving the kitchen sink approach to skincare, like: 
  • mixing and matching ingredients with high percentages of actives
  • overusing multiple products at the same time
  • using too many products, at too high concentrations

By cycling your skincare routine, you can target different skin concerns on different days of the week, ensuring that your skin receives the proper treatment without overwhelming or sensitizing it. 

This can be especially beneficial for those with sensitive skin types who may be prone to irritation.

The beauty of skin cycling lies in its flexibility. It's very intuitive. 

You can customize your routine based on your skin's needs and concerns. For example, you may focus on exfoliation nights using chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid or salicylic acid to combat dead skin cells and promote collagen production. On other nights, you can opt for gentle serums and restorative products to support the skin barrier and enhance hydration.

Skin cycling isn't just a TikTok trend. It is an intelligent strategy that supports the primal function of the skin and optimizes the skin's barrier. Fueling the notion that conscious beauty is the FUTURE of beauty culture.

What To Use For Skin Cycling

During a skin cycling routine, the focus is on exfoliation, retinoid incorporation, and deep hydration. 

These are the essential items:

1. Cleanser: Using a gentle cleanser is the first step in the routine. If you have makeup on, remove it with an oil cleanser and use it to clean the face.
La Roche Posay, Hydrating Gentle Cleanser, $16.99

One Love Organics, Botanical B Enzyme Cleansing Oil, $42.00

2. Leave On Exfoliator: Exfoliating acids such as glycolic or salicylic acid are used on "exfoliation nights" to gently slough off dead skin cells and unclog pores.

Dr. Whitney Bowe Beauty, Exfoliation Night, $79.00

3. Retinoid: Topical retinoids or powerful retinoid alternatives like retinol or retinal increases cell turnover, stimulate collagen production, improve skin texture, and reduce the appearance of dark spots.

Dr. Whitney Bowe Beauty, Retinal Night, $99.00

4. Antioxidant Serum: Consider serums with vitamin C + E, ferulic, niacinamide, peptides or astaxanthin.
Marie Veronique Vitamins C+E+ Ferulic Serum, $115.00

goop beauty, Goopgenes Youth-Boost Peptide Serum, $150.00

5. Moisturizer: To hydrate and nourish, use a moisturizer with key ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, peptides, glycerin, and squalene.

Dr. Whitney Bowe Beauty, Bowe Glow, $95.00

How To Make Skin Cycling Work For You

The basic framework is about cycling the days you use "actives" like an exfoliation serum + retinoid and the number of "recovery" days where you focus on hydration. This approach helps maintain the integrity of the skin barrier, prevent excessive dryness, and reduce the risk of sensitivity.

In a classic skin cycling routine, you would use an active for two consecutive nights, then follow with two recovery nights. During these recovery nights, the focus is on hydration and nourishment to allow the skin to replenish, repair, and restore itself after using active ingredients during the cycle.

Regarding the actives, it's best to use them separately. For optimal results, use the exfoliation serum the night before the retinoid. 

An example of a classic skin cycling routine:

If you're new to skin cycling, starting slowly and gradually increasing the frequency of exfoliation and retinol usage as your skin adjusts is essential.

If you have sensitive skin or chronic skin concerns, use acitves in moderation. Limit exfoliation nights to once or twice weekly to prevent over-exfoliation and build more recovery nights between active nights. 

After a month or so, you may be responding well to the classic skin cycling. Consider adding a second retinoid night to your cycle with two consecutive retinoid nights. 

*If you are experiencing any adverse reactions or chronic skin conditions, consult a board-certified dermatologist for valuable guidance on personalizing a skincare regimen. 

Are you interested in a personalized skin cycling consultation? Our 4-week coaching program, On The Surface, is the perfect place to start.