The Skin Cycling TikTok trend is the best way to layer products
Creating a skincare routine can seem like an overwhelming task. With so many products on the market and trending techniques circulating on social media, it’s hard to know where to start, especially if you have skin issues like acne or hyperpigmentation. Dr. Whitney Bowe, MD, heard the call for more simplified skincare and created the Skin Cycle – a method that has now gone viral on TikTok. “The Skin Cycle is a way to transform your skin and has done this for my patients who suffer from acne, rosacea, eczema, dark spots or are just looking to get the most out of their skincare products. skin,” Dr. Bowe explained in a Tik Tok video. The method consists of a four-night cycle; night one for exfoliation, night two for retinol, and nights three and four for recovery.
By alternating your most potent products in this way, Dr. Bowe tells Bustle that the skin cycle helps you think more about your skincare and avoid the irritation so often caused by retinol and over-exfoliation. “Rather than adding more products on top of each other, Skin Cycle encourages you to use products strategically to complement each other,” she explains.
Ahead, learn more about each individual stage of the skin cycle as well as Dr. Bowe’s product recommendations.
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Cleansers and moisturizers
No matter what day your skin cycle is, you’ll always need to cleanse and moisturize. If you wear makeup, start with a cleansing balm or micellar water, followed by a foaming cleanser or moisturizer. Here are some of Dr. Bowe’s favorites.
To keep skin hydrated and happy, daily hydration is essential. Here are a few Dr. Bowe recommends for your skin cycle routine.
Night 1: Exfoliation
The first night is dedicated to exfoliation, which Dr. Bowe says should be chemical rather than physical to avoid unnecessary irritation. “A mixture of acids works best, but one of my favorites is glycolic acid,” she says on TikTok.
After cleansing and drying your skin, apply your exfoliator with a cotton pad – take your pick from Dr. Bowe’s favorites below.
Night 2: Retinoid
Retinoids can be scary, but skin cycling is a great way to get used to them. Dr. Bowe gave her advice for a retinoid party on TikTok, the most important being: less is more. “You want to use a pea-sized amount of retinoid,” she says. “A pea should cover your whole face; dab it and rub it. Another pea for the neck, then take two peas for the chest. You’ll feel like you’re not using enough – that’s the point.
If you have sensitive skin, Dr. Bowe recommends moisturizing *before* applying your retinol. “You want to moisturize the really tricky areas first like the eye area, sides of the nose, chin, and neck, and then you put the retinoid on top of it,” she says. “As you go through the skin cycle and with your retinoid night, you can actually reverse that order where you first use the retinoid and then put the moisturizer on top of it.”
His last advice? Don’t mix retinol and slugging. “You never want to hit or use a very heavy, occlusive product on your retinoid,” she explains. “It can lead to something called occlusion, and it can actually increase the level of irritation in your skin without adding any benefit.”
After applying your retinol, finish with a rich moisturizer on top (even if you also applied moisturizer before the retinol). Ahead, check out Dr. Bowe’s top retinol recommendations.
Nights 3 & 4: Recovery
Just like your workout routine, recovery is crucial when it comes to the skin cycle. These two recovery nights allow your skin to recover while focusing on hydration so you don’t damage your skin barrier with too many harsh products. After cleansing, Dr. Bowe says an optional step is to apply a hyaluronic acid serum to damp skin. Then apply your moisturizer.
After moisturizing, Dr. Bowe says another optional step is a face oil, which will give you an extra boost of hydration. She recommends patting it on top of your moisturizer or mixing a few drops into your moisturizer.
While the skin cycle can be a beneficial routine for anyone, it’s especially helpful for those new to retinol or struggling to maintain their skin barrier. “It’s a recipe for healthier skin than the kitchen sink approach that so many people were experimenting with,” Bowe told Bustle.
Of course, you should always consult your dermatologist before starting any type of retinol, but if your skin can handle it, skin cycling might just be the way to go.