Skin cycling is the latest skincare trend to take social media by storm. Designed to promote skin recovery, the idea consists of rotating a specific four-day routine. But is the hype to be believed or is it too good to be true? Discover the pros and cons of this viral method and decide for yourself.
What is Skin Cycling?
Coined by a dermatologist with a large TikTok fan base, skin cycling is based on repeating an intensive four-night beauty regimen. On the first night you use an exfoliant, on the second a product containing retinol and the final two nights are for recovery, where calming and hydrating ingredients are used. The idea is to create a “shock effect” on the skin, maximising the benefits of exfoliation and retinol but with a simple routine.
Is it suitable for everyone?
In my opinion, skin cycling is not suitable for everyone. Those who suffer from sensitive skin need to be especially careful with this trend. It is based on active ingredients that are repeated in short cycles, many of which are known to provoke strong allergic reactions. What’s more, I believe only allowing two nights for the skin to rest and recover is not enough time after using such aggressive products. Not to mention we have yet to study the long-term effects of this routine and the possible negative impact on skin health it may have.
That being said, if you have normal skin this new trend could work as a shortcut if you are looking for a quick way to boost dull skin. Skin cycling ultimately gets rid of mature skin cells, exposing new “brighter” ones below. But, a word of warning, if you want to treat hyperpigmentation with this method, you will have to wait longer. Treatment of dark spots requires waiting a minimum timeframe of 3 months, which is the average time it takes for complete cell turnover to take place.
The real skin cycle…
Our skin has its own cycle. During a 28-day process, young skin cells migrate towards the most superficial layers of our epidermis. In this process the cells mature and strengthen as they travel up to the outer layers, also changing their composition on the way. It is a necessary process as mature cells act as a barrier and provide key molecules to our hydrolipidic film, before being shed naturally. For me, it is essential to honour the natural rhythm of our skin and avoid over-exfoliating. Failing to do so can cause a whole host of skin problems.
The key to healthy skin
The three basic pillars for healthy skin are elasticity, hydration and the right pH, usually around pH5. Furthermore, I’m a big advocate of listening to your skin and its needs. Of using the correct ingredients/products to treat your skin concerns and using a delicate, surfactant-free cleanser. At the same time, opting for a moisturiser with skin-compatible ingredients also makes for healthy, happy skin.
An alternative routine to skin cycling…
As a natural alternative to nightly exfoliation, I recommend using either: Clementine Cleansing Balm as it deep cleanses pores, dissolving trapped impurities; Or, Charcoal Peace Calming Cleanser as an alternative to chemical exfoliation due to being high in clays and activated charcoal.
To achieve a similar effect to that of retinol, reach for Ideal Rebalancing Level Serum. Thanks to its eudermic pH and high prebiotic content skin maintains its healthy microbiome. Its high molecular weight hyaluronic acid helps to keep the skin supple and hydrated. Last but not least, the formula’s innovative mixture of polysaccharides and antioxidants neutralises free radical damage and helps to reduce water loss from the skin’s outer layers.
When it comes to reinforcing the skin barrier, I propose two options: Intelligent Frontier Facial Oil, to stimulate the production of filaggrin, an essential protein for correct barrier function; Or, Nutritive Repair Emulsion, rich in linoleic acid, a key component to keep our skin barrier strong.