When it comes to social media trends, it’s usually something random that gains popularity. However, skin cycling, which has over 3.5 billion views on TikTok, has proven to be one of the best viral beauty trends – even dermatologists have approved of the movement!
What Is Skin Cycling?
Although there are a lot of different types of skin cycling, the four-day cycle is the easiest method to follow for beginners. Basically, it includes a lot of planning and using both active and inactive ingredients in rotation. “The concept of skin cycling applies to a nighttime skincare routine, which involves using active ingredients only on certain days, and following them with ‘rest’ days,” Dr. Alexis Granite explained. “A four-day cycle is the most popular, which typically comprises using active ingredients for two nights of the week, followed by two nights of rest — and repeating.”
So, what is it that’s so great about skin cycling? Frankly, the idea of it is pretty basic. Skin cycling is just a simple routine that keeps the skin barrier from being overly stimulated, thus protecting it from erosion and the overuse of active ingredients. Moreover, the cycle itself helps establish skincare consistency and an easily adjustable schedule. However, don’t expect the five-star routine to help you right away. According to experts, any change in skincare takes time to work and will probably need a lot of adjustments before being perfected. “It can take several weeks to see improvements in your skin once you start a routine,” said Dr. Mary Sommerlad, consultant dermatologist.
The Ideal Four-Day Cycle
Dr. Whitney Bowe, a New York-based dermatologist, was the one to share her outstanding vision of skin cycling on TikTok. She recommends starting off with two days of treatment and two days of moisturizing, then repeating. On the first day, focus on exfoliating to penetrate the deeper layers of your skin. “You want to cleanse [the skin], pat dry, then put on an exfoliating product,” she said. Instead of applying active ingredients in wash-off products, she recommends seeking out something leave-on. Do your best to ignore the physical scrubs that contain things like walnut shell pieces and instead purchase chemical ones with AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs.
When day two rolls in, use a retinoid after cleansing your skin. But before that, apply a hydrating cream to sensitive parts of the face like under the eyes. Otherwise, the product might cause some mild irritation. A retinoid should be applied all over the face, down the neck, and décolletage. That finishes off the active days of skin cycling! Days three and four are all about hydrating and supporting your skin.
According to Dr. Bowe, those sticking to a four-day skin cycle should take the next two “off” days to cleanse. Leave the skin damp and use hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and niacinamide-based serums. Then, apply moisturizer as usual. “Choose a formula that’s really nourishing which will support the skin barrier,” she added. “If the skin is really dry, apply rosehip or squalene oil onto the cheeks.”
If there’s no difference after a few weeks of skin cycling, it might be time to settle for another method. “If you’re experiencing issues with your skin and it’s not responding to over-the-counter products, it’s time to speak to a dermatologist,” said Dr. Granite.