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How does skin cycling work? 5 reasons why you should try it

Skin cycling alternates between applying active ingredients and allowing the skin to rest. Know its benefits and how it works.
Woman showcasing skin cycling
Skin cycling can help you rejuvenate your skin night after night. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Shruti Bhattacharya Published: 8 Jul 2024, 05:00 pm IST
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Of the many social media trends around skincare, one of the most talked about trend is skin cycling. Skin cycling is an innovative method of a skincare routine that prioritises the concept of rest for the skin. Unlike applying all your products every night, it alternates between exfoliation, active components (like retinol), and recovery nights with only moisturiser. This method minimises irritation while maximising the advantages of actives by allowing your skin to adjust. Many skincare enthusiasts believe it may be beneficial, particularly for those with sensitive skin or who are new to using stronger skincare products.

What is skin cycling?

Skin cycling may appear complicated, but it is based on a less-is-more technique that helps you obtain healthy-looking skin while protecting your skin’s barrier. “To begin, you will follow a four-day evening schedule, with one crucial product selected for each night. The rotation starts with exfoliation on the first night, and then retinol on the second night. The third and fourth nights are spent recovering with serums and moisturisers that protect the skin’s barrier. The cycle then repeats, says dermatologist, Dr Seema Oberoi Lall.

What are the benefits of skin cycling?

Here are some of the potential benefits of skin cycling:

1. May restore skin barrier

The skin cycling trend makes restoring your skin’s barrier easier than ever. This method provides the nutrients and water your skin requires, transforming it into an impenetrable barrier against environmental threats. According to a 2018 study published in the Indian Journal of Medical Research, the skin barrier protects you from infections, harsh chemicals, and allergies.

2. May minimise adverse effects

Tired of the consequences of your skincare routine? Add skin cycling to your plan. It may help to reduce the potential impact of skincare products such as irritants, burning, or breakouts. However, more research is needed to prove the claim.

Woman with acne breakout
Excessive use of skincare products may lead to acne breakout, which can be reduced by skin cycling. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

3. May maximise the effects of actives

“When used correctly, actives such as retinol can be more effective. Skin cycling allows your skin to adjust to the chemical, which may lead to better outcomes over time,” explains the expert.

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4. Is gentle on sensitive skin

If you have sensitive skin, the emphasis of skin cycling on rest and hydration can be a more gentle way to incorporate activities into your regimen. However, more research is needed to prove the claim.

5. Simpler routine

“Skin cycling can simplify your skincare routine by focusing on specific products on predetermined nights,” says the expert.

How does skin cycling work?

Here is a complete guide on how to follow skin cycling routine, as explained by Dr Seema Oberoi Lall.

Night 1

The first night of your skin cycling routine is all about exfoliation. Exfoliation removes dead skin cells and deeply cleanses your pores, preparing your skin for moisturisers and targeted ingredients. Exfoliation may allow beneficial chemicals to penetrate deeper, enhancing their long-term effectiveness.

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Exfoliation may involve the use of a physical or chemical exfoliant, both of which can be unpleasant on the skin if used excessively. Exfoliating too frequently may create redness and make the skin more susceptible to other chemicals. Limiting exfoliation to once every four days helps to avoid irritation while also ensuring that this crucial job is included in your normal skincare routine.

Skin exfoliation
Skin exfoliation is an important step to maintain healthy and glowing skin. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Night 2

Night two of your skin cycling program is intended to provide potent anti-ageing ingredients to your skin. This could include utilising a serum containing bakuchiol, a retinoid-like substance extracted from edible seeds that is used to treat blemishes and fine wrinkles. A customised face serum contains elements that are most suited to your skin type.

Night 3

This night is aimed at recovery, so the only thing you apply to your skin after a thorough cleansing is moisturiser. Depending on your skin’s demands, you may apply a moisturiser formulated for dry skin or to control oil production. A moisturising serum provides additional hydration to particularly dry skin.

Hyaluronic acid, oat oil, and vitamin C are examples of substances that may appear in a personalised moisturiser tailored to be used on every day of your skin cycle programme, including recovery days. Mild yet effective substances like these do not require a break between applications.

Night 4

The fourth night in a skin cycling process is a rest and recovery night, so use the same products as on night three. After this night, the cycle is complete, and you begin again with night one. On the last two days of skin cycling, apply serum and moisturiser while your skin is still damp to improve overall hydration.

Are there any side effects of skin cycling?

Here are some of the potential side effects of skin cycling, according to the expert.

Initial irritation: If you are new to actives used for exfoliation, like as retinoids or AHAs/BHAs, you may notice some dryness or irritation when you initially begin skin cycling. This is because your skin is adjusting to the substances.

Increased sun sensitivity: Many active ingredients, particularly retinoids, make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. This is especially crucial with skin cycling, as actives are utilised more frequently. To avoid sunburn, use sunscreen consistently every day.

Remember, it’s always a good idea to consult a dermatologist before starting any new skincare routine, especially if you have sensitive skin or any underlying conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the best morning regimen for skin cycling?
While a skin cycling routine consists of using various products each night, your morning routine should be more organised. Try a consistent morning routine that includes four simple products: cleanser, Vitamin C serum, moisturiser, and sunscreen.

2. How long does skin cycling last?
Skin cycling is a four-night skincare practice in which you rotate your skincare products to avoid irritation—and then repeat it all over again.

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About the Author

Shruti Bhattacharya is a content writer and editor for over 2 years. She specialises in writing on a variety of topics such as wellness, lifestyle, beauty, technology and fashion. Her current focus is on creating factually correct and informative stories for readers. ...Read More

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