February 15, 2024

A Guide to the Skin Cycling Trend

If you spend most of your screen time on the skincare side of TikTok or Instagram, there’s a great chance you’ve scrolled past “Skin Cycling”—a skincare trend that took these social media platforms by storm. In fact, skin cycling has garnered up to 3.5 billion views and counting on TikTok.

What’s more interesting about this trend is that it was created by an expert, a New York City-based board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Whitney Bowe

Skin Cycling is a simple routine that uses skin actives and rest days and is set to improve skin barrier, hydration and texture. 

Bowe coined the term Skin Cycling, which rose to popularity in 2022. “The world of skincare has become overly complicated, Skin Cycling helps to streamline your skincare routine in a way that’s both effective and easy to follow,” she says in her blog. 

Are you curious as well about how this routine works? In this guide, we will delve into the specifics of Skin Cycling–what it is, the skin care schedule it recommends, and its benefits. 

Stick around; we’ve got some ‘skincare easter eggs’ to unveil!

What Is Skin Cycling?

skin cycling

In its most basic definition, skin cycling is a four-night skincare method that involves the application of active ingredients and having rest days, prioritising skin barrier optimisation. 

The approach is very intuitive. Think of it in the same logic as your muscles. When you exercise, you’ll typically need rest days to recover. The same principle applies to your skin. 

In this strategic routine, your skin will undergo exfoliation (night 1), applying retinoids (night 2), moisturising (night 3), recovery (night 4), and then repeat. In short, it is a continuous rotation–derived from its name, a cycle. 

Overloading your skin with active ingredients like vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, AHAs, niacinamide, and more can be too stressful for your skin health. It increases the chances of acquiring hyperpigmentation, redness, burns, and aggravated acne; it’s basically an impending skin damage. On the other hand, if used correctly, they can generally benefit you. 

In the simplified skin cycling schedule, you can still bask in the benefits of actives more safely by having rest or off days. 

In Dr. Bowe’s blog, she shared how she noticed the way people overcomplicate the skincare process by mixing and matching ingredients that don’t complement each other, checking on percentages of skin actives, and identifying which is better. 

That is why she created a strategic and streamlined evening skincare method and drove a “less is more” approach. 

How Does Skin Cycling Work?

There’s a good reason why people should perform skin cycling steps at night. Skincare with actives can make your skin more sensitive, particularly to the sun or pollution. That’s precisely why this routine is done without the presence of the sun. During the daytime, make sure you apply your SPF to protect your skin. 

To kickstart your journey to the skin cycling routine, you will need three main skin cycling products:

  • Exfoliator
  • Retinoid
  • Moisturiser

Night 1: Exfoliation–Rejuvenate and Glow 

Dr. Bowe recommends using a chemical exfoliant as they are more gentle on the skin. 

Mildly cleansing the skin is the first step of your routine, and exfoliants must come after it, followed by a moisturiser. 

Exfoliation works by removing dead skin cells, generally rejuvenating the skin; this allows better penetration of other products you put on the following days. 

Exfoliants should include acids: glycolic, salicylic, lactic, etc –much like what the ZO Skin Health Exfoliation Accelerator 10% AHA offers. 

Night 2: Retinol–Tapping Into the Power of Vitamin A

For night two, you will harness the power of retinoids or Vitamin A. 

Retinoids are vitamin A derivatives that reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and pores and accelerate cell turnover. They are potent ingredients in the skin cycling routine, and people may react differently to the retinoid power. 

But with skin cycling, there is a better chance to avoid irritation because of the rest days the schedule has. 

Apply a pea-sized amount of retinol after cleansing, then finish off with a layer of moisturiser. 

A ZO Skin Health retinol may be an excellent fit for your skin cycling needs for the second night. They provide various retinol products of different percentages, depending on your skin’s tolerance.  

Nights 3 & 4: Moisturising & Recovery–Letting Your Skin Breathe

Nights 3 and 4 have got to be the most critical nights of all. It’s about giving your skin a break and letting the actives take effect. Dedicate these nights to hydration and recovery. 

Begin with a gentle, soothing cleanser in the morning, then moisturise. Choose your moisturiser according to your skin needs–if your skin dries up extra, use an intensive, nourishing product. But if your skin type is oily, you can opt for a lighter moisturiser. 

While the skin cycling routine highlights more on night applications, what should your morning skincare routine be? Well, it should also be simple and streamlined, with cleanser, moisturiser, and SPF as your holy grail. 

When Can I See Skin Cycling Results?

Dr. Bowe states sensitivity or blotchiness should be better after two cycles. 

Expect a more healthy and radiant skin that feels hydrated and softer. If consistent with the skin cycling routine in the following months, you’ll witness enhancements in fine lines, wrinkles, breakouts, and dark spots. 

What Are the Benefits of Skin Cycling?

Skin cycling is a more straightforward take to skin care amidst people’s tendency to overthink their routines. The method produces excellent results and demystifies rumination on what to use on your skin and when. 

Specifically, it offers different benefits, which are: 

  • It’s beginner-friendly and simple. Scouring the internet for skincare knowledge can be overwhelming. Skin cycling is a routine that is easy to understand and follow. It can be a good starting point for most people because it upholds rest days and does not promote over-exfoliating or excessive product application.
  • It prioritises the well-being of your skin barrier. Protecting your skin barrier is crucial for overall skin health. Skin cycling is designed with skin barrier health optimisation in mind, and it does not support irritation brought on by over-exfoliation and too much application of skin actives. 
  • It avoids unwanted side effects from skin actives. We have recently established how too much application of skin actives can harm your skin. Skin Cycling is a safe way to introduce your skin to actives. The skin cycling schedule allows your skin to absorb these actives during cycling days off, giving your skin some space to breathe. 

Skin Cycling Precautions to Consider

People with overly sensitive skin should be mindful of the strength of their exfoliants. For those who are dealing with acne, you may need to use retinol more frequently to experience the benefits. 

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to our skin. Our care will still depend on our skin types and needs. You just have to listen to your skin and seek the help of an expert to customise for your skin’s demands. 

Wrapping Up: Skin Cycling Is a Trend by the Experts

Skin cycling is not just a typical TikTok trend; it is a routine crafted by the experts. It is a strategic skincare schedule that pushes away irritation and skin distress in the picture by promoting rest days for skin barrier health. 

Again, there may be no all-encompassing routine for all skin, but skin cycling may be a good place to start. Whether or not you choose to hop on this trend, what’s important is that you pay close attention to your skin’s unique needs and respond accordingly. 

At Zoe Nissi, we want you to stick to a consistent regimen that is kind to your skin–of course, using products it will love. 

We stand by the best skincare brands in Singapore– PCA Skin, Kenkay, Colorescience, Dermascar, and ZO Skin Health Singapore–helping you find the right products that indeed show results.