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If you're a TikTok enthusiast — or have a Gen-Zer in your house — then you've probably heard of the latest viral beauty trend: skin cycling.
But just what is this “skin cycling,” you ask?
Well, who better to break it down for us than the woman who coined the term and introduced it and the whole method to TikTok: NYC-based dermatologist — and our good friend — Dr. Whitney Bowe.
As Dr. Bowe explains it, "With skin cycling, you cycle through your skincare routine in a very deliberate way that drives results to get glowing, radiant skin. The concept is intuitive — your muscles need recovery days, your mind needs recovery days, so it makes sense that your skin also benefits from recovery!"
That does make a lot of sense!
And this is how it's done: Over the course of four nights, you “cycle” through your skincare products. The first two nights are dedicated to products with active ingredients – first, an exfoliant; then, a retinol. The last two nights are for “recovery,” meaning you give your skin a break and only cleanse and moisturize.
We asked Dr. Bowe if she could properly break down each of the four steps for us, and add product recommendations while she was at it. (The better to shop!) But as always, please do consult with your own dermatologist before starting any new skin care routine.
NIGHT 1: Exfoliation Night
"On exfoliation night," Dr. Bowe explains, "you want to use a leave-on exfoliating product that ideally has a blend of acids, like glycolic acid and salicylic acid. What that’s going to do is to gently and evenly remove that dead layer of skin and give your skin an immediate glow."
Plus, it'll prep you to get the most out of night two — right this way!
NIGHT 2: Retinoid Night
Retinoids are one of the most powerful ingredients you can use on your skin.
"Retinoids can refer to OTC retinol or retinal, or RX strength retinoids — and both can smooth fine lines and wrinkles and brighten dark spots," Dr. Bowe explains. "But the problem is that most people can't tolerate a retinoid every night, which is why skin cycling with your retinoid is so important. "
And why your skin is really going to appreciate the next two nights.
For Oily/ Acne Prone Skin:
For More Mature Skin or to Target Signs of Aging in the Skin
NIGHT 3: Recovery Night
Recovery nights are all about hydration and repairing your skin barrier. "You want to use a moisturizer that contains prebiotics, postbiotics, squalene, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid," says Dr. Bowe.
NIGHT 4: Recovery Night
Same as night three! Easy-peasy, right?