What Is Skin Cycling?

Skin cycling is a new skin care trend that’s been gaining popularity throughout Tik Tok.

The basic idea behind skin cycling is that you use different products for different parts of your face, which allows you to use the best products for each area without having to worry about clogging your pores or having bad reactions.

It sounds like a lot of work, but it’s actually easier than you think.

“Skin cycling is basically about upgrading your nighttime skincare routine, which involves using active ingredients only on certain nights, and following them with ‘rest’ of the nights.”

Benefits Of Skin Cycling

Let’s delve into the profound advantages of skin cycling to better understand its impact on maintaining skin health.


Shields Skin Barrier 

One of the key advantages of skin cycling is that it helps maintain the health of your skin’s barrier. This is crucial for overall skin wellness. 

Dr. Aanand Geria, a dermatologist with Geria Dermatology says, over-exfoliating can harm the skin barrier, causing dehydration, redness, irritation, and breakouts. 

By incorporating skin cycling into your routine, you can avoid these issues and consistently use key active ingredients. 

Newbie-friendly & Uncomplicated 

There’s no denying that skincare can be confusing. However, one of the advantages of the four-day skin cycling regimen is that it is newbie-friendly and suitable for anyone, regardless of their skincare knowledge. 

As Dr. Turegano explains, “Starting with a skin cycling regimen is a good starting point for most people, and helps prevent over-exfoliation.” 

It’s important to be cautious about the products you use on your skin, though. Even if you have sensitive skin or are using a potent retinol or chemical exfoliant, there is still a risk of damaging your skin, according to Dr. Turegano.

Smartest + Safest Way To Use Active Skin Ingredients

Since retinols and AHA/BHA-containing treatments are the main attractions of skin cycling, there is a wide range of advantages that are great for those seeking anti-aging measures and solutions to pigmentation issues. .

According to Mamina Turegano, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and co-founder of Skintap.com based in New Orleans, “Skin cycling is an excellent method for incorporating active skincare ingredients into your routine, especially if you are uncertain about what to use and how frequently to use it.”

The Downsides of Skin Cycling

Despite its many benefits, skin cycling does have one major drawback: it requires some getting used to.

Beginning use of a product containing retinol, alpha hydroxy acid, or beta hydroxy acid may cause your skin to become red, dry, and flaky. 

The recovery days aim to reduce discomfort, although the effects can continue for up to two weeks. If experiences of pain persist, we recommend consulting a board trained dermatologist.

Skin Cycling Procedure

Skin cycling is not as simple as slapping on a face mask and calling it good. 

It’s about using the products in their most effective form, whether that means spreading them across your body or saving them for specific times of day.

Following is a simple skin cycling method:

Night 1: Exfoliation

The first step in skin cycling is exfoliation. In this phase, you’ll use a chemical exfoliant to shed dead skin cells. This will help make room for new growth. Exfoliate once or twice per week using an AHA or BHA chemical exfoliant like the Pixi Glow Tonic or Drunk Elephant glycolic night serum.

Night 2: Retinol 

The key components of a skin cycling routine are retinol which is an active ingredient of skin cycling, alpha hydroxy acids, and beta hydroxy acids. To restore cell membranes and repair the skin barrier, she recommends using ceramides, cholesterol, and triglycerides in the recovery phase, along with moisturizing substances like hyaluronic acid. 

If you exfoliate your skin the night before applying a retinol, your skin will be more receptive to the 

Nights 3 and 4: Recovery

Choose a product with lipids, ceramides, triglycerides, and peptides to help with hydration and barrier restoration. Hydration and restoring damaged barriers should be continued.

Do’s & Don’ts Of Skin Cycling


Change up your skin care routine. If you normally use retinol or an equivalent at night, you should try using an AHA instead for one night. 

Moisten your skin till it glistens. Replenishing the skin’s microbiota is crucial.

Be sure to apply any necessary remedies before turning in for the night. Dr. Bowe, who is not associated with LimeLife, says that skin cycling is something you should do at night.

Relax for a while. Give your skin some time to heal if it becomes irritated, and if the problem persists, a dermatologist should be consulted.


Sensitive skin should not be over treated. Take a break if you have rosacea or any skin condition that makes your skin more sensitive.

Avoid using harsh substances first thing in the morning. Peels and acids might make you more sensitive to sunlight. Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least 30 SPF, such as LimeLife Perfect Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30, every day to protect your skin from the sun.

Water rest days should not be missed. The skin care regimen you’ve been following has been too harsh. It’s starving and needs to be fed.

Avoid doubling up on remedies. If you use an AHA treatment and a resurfacing treatment on the same day, the resurfacing treatment is likely to induce inflammation.

Dermatologists About Skin Cycling 

It’s true, as Watterberg points out: “the cycle shortens as your skin becomes tolerant – there are a lot of people for whom one to two nights of a product per week is not enough to see effects.”

When asked about the benefits of skin cycling, Bowe concedes that they are limited if, after a person has successfully adjusted their skin to a stable and potent retinoid (without experiencing irritation, blotchy patches, or sensitivity), they are already seeing the full effects of that treatment. 

She claims that the problem is that so many people simply cannot reach that stage. It is impossible to take a strong, stable retinoid nightly without suffering dryness, irritation, and pain, adds Bowe, especially for those with dry skin or sensitive skin.


Following are some suitable products for skin cycling:

  • Alpha-H Balancing Cleanser
  • CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser
  • Youth To The People Kombucha + 10% AHA Liquid Exfoliant with Lactic Acid & Glycolic Acid
  • Tatcha The Deep Cleanse Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser
  • Farmacy 1% Vitamin A Retinol Serum

Is Skin Cycling Safe For All Skin Types? 

All skin types can benefit from this technique, but dry or sensitive skin may not accept retinoids or exfoliants. If you’re sensitive, start with a low-grade retinol and increase recovery nights from two to three.

People with serious acne, eczema, or rosacea who use prescription grade products should always see their dermatologist before changing their skin care routine to ensure they’re guided properly while personalizing skin cycling to their skincare needs.

Should Skin Cycling Be a Part Of My Skincare Routine? 

You can absolutely use it as part of your skincare routine. The skincare practice or method known as “skin cycling” is intended to prevent over-exfoliation and the subsequent damage that results from it. 

In general, a dermatologist will recommend a four-day cycle with an exfoliation on the fifth day, but the specifics of this practice will change depending on the individual’s skin type. For example, those with oily skin might need to exfoliate their skin more frequently.

Friendly Advice 

The idea of “skin cycling” has been around for quite some time. People have recently come to the realization that increasing the number of products they use on their skin does not necessarily result in better or healthier skin. 

This is one of the reasons why skin cycling has been so popular in recent years. This is a successful application of the less-is-more philosophy, which also provides you with a planned agenda that is consistent with common sense.

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