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“Skin cycling” has gone viral lately on TikTok for its less-is-more approach to skincare. So, what is it? Keep reading to learn about how skin cycling works, why it’s beneficial and how to do this simple, dermatologist-approved regimen in your routine for your skin health.

Make sure you talk to your dermatologist before jumping right into this skincare trend or incorporating certain active ingredients into your regimen.

What is skin cycling?

What is skin cycling?

It is Whitney Bowe, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City, who invented the skin cycling regimen. It is basically a four-night skincare routine that includes two nights of exfoliant and retinol, followed by two nights of recovery with intense hydration.

The benefits of skin cycling

The benefits of skin cycling

Too much of a good thing can be bad, such as powerful acids and retinoids. Alternating the use of exfoliant and retinol allows you to reap all the benefits out of the powerful active ingredients without overdoing it and causing irritation.

Skin cycling evening routine

The four-night cycling schedule includes – exfoliation night, retinoid night, recovery night, recovery night, repeat. And you may start to see results after eight days/two cycles. Here’s how it works.

Night 1: Exfoliation

Exfoliate the skin with a chemical exfoliant to get rid of dead skin cells and help other skincare ingredients absorb effectively.

Night 2: Retinol

Cleanse and then a pea-sized amount of retinol, coated with a layer of moisturizer. Retinol is one of the main forms of vitamin A that can help stimulate cell turnover and collagen production to achieve youthful skin.

Remember to start slow and steady with retinol to allow for maximal results and minimal irritation.


Night 3 & 4: Recovery

Time to give your skin a break. These are recovery nights, so just cleanse with a gently cleanser and moisturize with a hyaluronic acid serum for an extra boost of hydration, followed with your choice of moisturizer or face oil to seal the moisture in.

Repeat cycle for radiant, healthy skin.

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