‘Skin cycling’: Everything you need to know about this latest skincare trend

Have you heard of the skincare trend ‘skin cycling’ but are confused on where to start? Fret not! We’ve done our research and have broken down skin cycling in simple terms so everyone can have a go at the viral skincare routine that’s taken social media by storm.

The phrase ‘skin cycling’ was first coined by dermatologist Dr Whitney Bowe after she shared her routine on TikTok, and has now been appearing all over the social media app, with over 130.2M views under #skincycling. 

The routine of skin cycling involves using active ingredients such as retinoids or chemical exfoliants only on select days out of the week followed by ‘rest days’ to allow your skin to recover so you don’t damage your skin’s natural barrier. This helps to keep the skin clear and not clogged with the over-use of skincare products.

We’ve broken it down into a simple step-by-step guide, so check it out below if you're trying to perfect your skincare routine.

Night One: exfoliation

On the first night of your skin cycling journey you should cleanse your face with your favourite cleanser and then pat dry. 

Your next step is to use an exfoliating product. Dr Whitney Bowe recommends a leave-on product such as exfoliating acids like AHA’s, rather than wash-off scrub as the scrubs can be harsh on the skin barrier.

Next, apply your moisturiser and you have completed night one of skin cycling!

Night Two: retinoid 

Like night one, start off by cleansing your face and pat dry, making sure none of your skin is damp because using retinoids with wet skin can cause irritation. 

If you have sensitive skin, or this is your first time trying skin cycling, then you should moisturise the sensitive areas of your face- around the eyes and corners of the nose and mouth, as well as your neck, so the retinoid doesn’t dry them out too much. 

Now, apply your retinol- a pea sized amount should cover the whole face. 

If your skin still feels dry you can add more moisturiser all over your face which is called the ‘sandwich technique’. (Moisturiser, retinoid, moisturiser).

Night Three/Four: recovery nights

Cleanse your face as you usually would.

Apply a hydrating serum- your face can be a little bit damp to help absorption- Serums with hyaluronic acid, glycerin, niacinamide work great to repair the skin barrier.

Put on your moisturiser next, it’s best if it has nourishing ingredients like squalene or ceramides, and is fragrance and essential oil-free. You should use “Something that is really going to nourish and support the skin barrier and rebalance the skin microbiome”, according to Dr Whiteny Bowe.

If your skin still feels dry, you can add an oil like rosehip oil or squalene oil to the face for more moisture.

Repeat the cycle for the rest of the week, starting off with exfoliating again and so on!