Skin Cycling: The Deets on this Derm-Approved TikTok Trend
Ready to take your PM skincare routine to the next level?
ENTER: skin cycling! The skincare trend everyone’s talking about (and trying!).
Skin cycling involves limiting the use of active ingredients and exfoliants to just two nights a week so that every skin type can benefit without those dreaded side effects aka, dryness, redness, irritation. IOW: it’s verrry sensitive skin friendly!
Keep scrolling to hear all about skin cycling, what the derms think, and the best skincare products to cycle with.
What is Skin Cycling?
The newest TikTok trend turning heads right now is “skin cycling.”
"Skin cycling is a deliberate and strategic way to bring your nighttime skincare routine to the next level," says Dr. Whitney Bowe, NYC-based dermatologist.
The skin cycling routine includes exfoliating on the first night, applying a retinoid the next night, and then having two recovery nights using purely moisturizing ingredients. This way, your skin can reap the skincare benefits of chemical exfoliants and retinoids without ending up red, dry, and itchy.
According to Bowe, it’s especially effective for those dealing with acne, eczema, rosacea, discoloration, or sensitive skin.
Since we’re all using more actives like retinol, salicylic acid, vitamin C, and glycolic acid, skin cycling is a way to enjoy the benefits of these skincare ingredients while avoiding overburdening your skin. And it’s a routine every skin type can benefit from!
The process goes like this:
Night #1: Exfoliation
On the first night, exfoliate with a chemical exfoliant like glycolic acid or salicylic acid which you’ll find in everything from cleansers to toners and serums. We like Truly’s CBD Jelly Toning Solution, which gently lifts away dirt and dead skin via the resurfacing powers of glycolic.
After exfoliating, apply a lightweight fragrance-free moisturizer that supports skin barrier repair. Avoid using anything too heavy or greasy, since this may cause breakouts, oiliness, and irritation. You should also avoid slugging on exfoliation night, as occlusives like Vaseline can enhance the absorption of acids, making them more irritating.
Night #2: Retinoid
On night two, pat in a small amount of retinol serum after cleansing. Retinol is a vitamin A derivative that’s proven to boost collagen and elastin output while speeding up cell turnover to treat fine lines, wrinkles, blemishes, and discoloration.
If you’ve never used retinol before, make sure you start with a low concentration to allow your skin to adjust. You’ll find retinol in a range of beauty products, including serums, toners, and creams.
We love Truly’s Vegan Collagen Booster Serum, a revolutionary treatment of retinol, vitamin C, and plant collagen to plump, firm, and refresh skin.
Nights #3 & #4: Recovery
These are your recovery nights — aka, a chance for your skin to chill out and bounce back from the two previous nights. On recovery nights, focus on nourishing your skin with soothing, repairing skincare products enriched with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, squalane, and aloe. Even if you have oily skin or acne-prone skin, steer clear of chemicals. Give your skin time to just chillax.
Nurture your skin with Truly’s Cream Skin Face Moisturizer, a rich yet lightweight formula of hyaluronic acid and sea kelp = the recipe for dewy, doll-like skin!
After the fourth night, you can start again with the cycle. According to Dr. Bowe, you should start seeing results from skin cycling in as little as eight days. However, she insists that you do need to be consistent with your routine in order to see results. You’ll also want to make sure you’re still applying sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher to keep your skin protected during the day. In the meantime, avoid using DIY formulas and hacks, as these can also be irritating to skin.
Benefits of Skin Cycling
One of the biggest benefits of skin cycling is that you get to enjoy the effects that active ingredients like retinol bring without overdoing it — which can lead to dryness, flaking, and irritation. Overusing these actives can also weaken the skin barrier, leaving it further prone to issues like dryness, redness, and inflammation.
As dermatologist Dr. Peter Young, MD, puts it, we’re all guilty of using more than one product a day in the hope of improving our complexion faster. Unfortunately, going too heavy on the actives too quickly can have adverse effects.
“Too many products on your skin, especially anti-aging products, can cause irritation, and actually make you look older,” explains Dr. Young. “Therefore, it's best to space out active ingredients like retinoids and exfoliants in your weekly skincare routine."
By adopting a skin cycling regimen, you’ll start to see less visible fine lines, firmer skin, and lightened dark spots within the first two months of cycling.
Should You Try this TikTok Skincare Trend?
Lately, it feels like every day there’s a new skincare routine, beauty trend, or skincare product that goes viral on TikTok and other social media platforms. But sometimes, it can be difficult to decide when to try a trend or when to scroll past it.
One trend that’s exploding on TikTok right now is skin cycling. No doubt, you’ve seen numerous TikTok videos demonstrating how to try the trend at home. The question you need to ask is whether or not it’s dermatologist-approved.
From what the derms say, skin cycling can benefit all skin types. That said, you might need to customize your cycle a little depending on your skin concerns. For example, if you have fine lines and wrinkles, you can bump up the strength of your retinoid on night two. If you have eczema or rosacea, you can add in an additional recovery night to give your skin extra time to heal and prevent freaking out your skin.
Shop Skin Cycling Sets
A roundup of our bestselling bundles you can use to skin cycle this season...
DRY WINTER SKIN KIT
VEGAN COLLAGEN BOOSTER BUNDLE
SOOTHE RED SKIN SET
Now you have all the deets on this beauty trend, you might wanna give it a try for yourself. While there’s always something new in the beauty world, from what celebs and influencers are using to new hacks, skin cycling might be one to stick around. Be sure to use your fave Truly products when skin cycling to get the best possible results. And just to throw in a little extra positivity: if you start today, you can look forward to better skin by this time next week.