If your skin has ever suffered from irritation and inflammation, or you haven’t reached your skin goals, it might be time to inspect your skincare routine. Using several active skincare products on your skin at once seems like a great idea to quickly reach your skin goals. However, you could unintentionally damage your skin barrier and reduce the effectiveness of your products. By minimizing your skincare routine and incorporating skin rest days, you could have the skin of your dreams in no time.

What Is Skin Cycling?

You may be the type of person who follows the latest skincare trends. If that’s the case, then you’ve probably heard of skin cycling. It’s a new technique coined by board-certified New York dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe

Dr. Bowe noticed a trend of overusing skincare, popularized by TikTokers, where they sometimes used up to 12 different products every time they cleaned their face. In addition, some of her clients’ skin goals were plateauing after using several products daily. She saw a pattern of skin irritation, inflammation, and skin barrier damage and concluded that these excessive routines weren’t as effective as she once believed them to be. She decided to take the “less is more” approach to skincare.

Her solution was to follow a simple routine of critical products but spread the product usage over a four-day cycle. So instead of using all active products in the same routine, clients would use one product on day one and another on day two. Then they’d rest their skin on days three and four by not introducing any active ingredients to their routine. 

How Skin Cycling Works

As mentioned, Dr. Bowe realized that her prescribed treatment plans were the cause of her client’s skin irritation and barrier damage. Not only that, but many of her clients’ results were less impressive than she had hoped, and their routines were becoming long and laborious with excessive steps. Despite their irritation, some active ingredients still benefit her clients’ skin goals. She just needed to figure out how to balance the active ingredients in their routine and counteract the damage.

“… as I was thinking about their skincare and changing variables, I knew we needed to find a more strategic and deliberate way to approach skin care.”

With skin cycling, you follow a four-day skincare plan instead of a daily plan. A four-day routine gives your skin time to recover in between using the active products. Just as our bodies need rest days from workouts, Dr. Bowe learned that our skin also needs rest days from active skin treatments.

She also realized that to get results, her clients didn’t need a complex, 12-step routine. All they need are these four things:

  • Cleanser
  • Exfoliant
  • Treatment
  • Moisturizer

More specifically, an exfoliant on day one, such as a glycolic treatment, and a skin treatment serum that contains retinoids on day two.

Why Skin Cycling Is Beneficial for Skin

Although skin cycling is a relatively new concept, and the research has yet to be published, the proof is in the results. And the popularity is only growing, as is apparent by the #skincyling hashtag on TikTok. Skin cycling allows the skin to recover in between active ingredients. 

Even other dermatologists agree that, in theory, skin cycling makes a lot of sense. You’re treating the skin with high concentrations of skincare but also giving your skin time to regenerate and recover.

And skin cycling not only benefits the skin. Skin cycling is a form of Skinimalism, where you use minimal skincare products, reducing costs and waste. And with only a few products and straightforward instructions, even if you hate performing a regular skincare routine, you can successfully follow skin cycling because of its low maintenance.

How To Implement Skin Cycling into Your Skincare Routine

To implement skin cycling into your routine, you need a cleanser, an exfoliant, a treatment such as a serum, and a moisturizer. You can decide if you want to perform the routine in the morning or evening. However, your skin has time to rest and recover while you sleep, so an evening routine is usually more beneficial. 

Day 1: Day one is exfoliation day, where you’ll cleanse your skin thoroughly and use your active exfoliant to resurface the skin. When you’ve successfully exfoliated the skin, rinse it off before moisturizing. 

Day 2: Day two is when you treat the skin with a concentrated serum. After cleansing and drying the skin, apply your serum of choice and allow it to absorb. Finish the routine with your moisturizer, and that’s all for day two.

Day 3 and Day 4: On days three and four, all you’re going to do is cleanse and moisturize. You want to use these days to regenerate and restore the skin after days one and two of skin cycling.

Keep a diary or calendar to track which days you should use which products. Then, all you have to do is repeat days one to four over and over.

The Best Products for a Skin Cycling Routine

There are no hard or fast rules when choosing skincare for skin cycling. It’s likely that you already have a cleanser and moisturizer that you prefer. But there are some things to consider if you’re looking for new products.

Best Cleansers

A cleanser that removes dirt and bacteria without stripping the skin will be the most beneficial for skin types that are oily or acne-prone. Set Me Free Pore Clearing Gel Cleanser contains a range of botanicals, like tea tree, willow bark, and yucca, to cleanse and remove impurities deeply.

For all other skin types, including sensitive skin, opt for a cleanser that gently lifts debris from the skin while fortifying the skin’s protective barrier. This Easy Going Gentle Crème Cleanser contains green tea to soothe the skin and panthenol to keep the skin hydrated.

Best Exfoliants

For exfoliation day, Dr. Bowe recommends a chemical exfoliant, such as this Fake ID Glycolic Rejuvenating Serum, with lactic and amino acids to brighten skin without irritating it. Or you can use a physical exfoliant, like the Crystal Ball Microdermabrasion Treatment, with volcanic pumice to gently resurface the skin.

Best Treatments

To treat the skin, use a serum with active ingredients such as retinol, peptides, or both, as you’ll find in the Youth Accelerator Apple Stem Cell Serum. This serum gives skin a potent dose of antioxidants to help repair and regenerate skin cells.

Best Moisturizers

Your skin cycling routine won’t be complete without a moisturizer. Choose one with antioxidants, like vitamins A, C, and E, and hyaluronic acid to help keep skin hydrated for longer. The Anytime Anywhere Time Release Moisturizer is a fantastic skin cycling moisturizer suitable for all skin types.

Skin cycling is a simplified skincare routine that shows promising results. With a low investment and minimal steps, you can have the glowing, radiant skin of your dreams sooner than you think. Still unsure? Check out the before and after pictures of many customers who’ve transformed their skin using our high-performance skincare products. If you want to experience these results, find a beauty advisor near you.