Is Skin Cycling required?

Terri Vinson is a skin scientist, cosmetics chemist, and the founder of Synergie Skin. She breaks down the hype surrounding Skin Cycling. She takes a closer view at the trend, and shares some advice on the pros and cons.

Skin Cycling, developed by dermatologist Dr Whitney Bowe has been around for a few years now and is a popular beauty trend on TikTok.

Skin Cycling was created by Dr Bowe in response to the high number of patients who came into her clinic each week with an assortment of skincare products that they had self-prescribed and asked her for instructions on the frequency and order in which to apply them.

Her advice was to stagger or cycle the use of active skincare products to increase tolerance and achieve better results. Is this method suitable for all skin types? Is it necessary to cycle every active ingredient?

Skin Cycling is not an exception. As with all viral trends it’s best to treat the hype as a bit of a joke.

There are certain products I recommend for cycling. However, I also believe that many active skincare products are essential daily products, and it would be illogical to exclude them from anyone’s nightly skincare routine.

How does Skin Cycling Work? When can it be helpful? When is it not helpful? Find out.

What is Skin Cycling ?

Skin Cycling is a method of reorganizing your skincare routine to a four-night cycle that alternates active and non-active ingredients. This method is designed to reduce the chance of irritation, by giving the skin time to rest and recover.

What is Skin Cycling?

Skin cycling usually begins with an exfoliation, followed by two recovery nights, and then a retinoid treatment. This four-night skincare cycle is as follows:

Night 1: Exfoliation Night

This step will give you a glow immediately and lay the foundation for the Night #2 routine. You would then use an exfoliating cream to remove dead skin and unclog your pores. This will brighten the skin over night. Exfoliating also can send feedback signals to the deep dermal layer of the skin, causing it to produce collagen. This scaffold helps to reduce wrinkles and fine lines.

Night #2: Retinoid Night

This is because most skin types are unable to tolerate retinoids at night. The’skin-cyclist’ recommendation is to introduce them via cycling. It is important to remember that skin irritations are not always caused by retinoids. Inflammation can occur when users layer retinoids with other reactive ingredients, or use retinoids too strong for their type of skin. This will be covered in greater detail later.

Nights 3 + 4: Recovery Nights

The two nights will be dedicated to recovery, nourishing skin microbiome and repairing barrier. This step does not involve any active products which could be seen as pushing the skin outside of its comfort zone. The user then repeats these four steps at night: Exfoliation Night (Retinoid Night), Recover, Recover.

Terri’s Take

What should we make out of this advice? This method is not suitable for educated skincare users. While the core intention behind Skin Cycling seems reasonable enough (particularly surrounding the importance of nourishing and supporting the skin barrier), I personally feel that there isn’t enough scientific nuance underpinning this trend in its current form, possibly due to the dilution/oversimplification of information that inevitably happens on social media.

Here are some of my reservations. First, when thinking about “skin recovery”, it’s easy to make an analogy between skincare and body workout.

We must instead acknowledge that active skincare does not always stress the skin barrier. Not all active skincare products require any sort of recovery period. There are many ingredients your skin can benefit from every day.

Second, Skin Cycling is not an ‘all-in-one’ skincare model. Synergie Skin’s Skin Quiz and consultations help us to prescribe a skincare routine that takes into consideration which products are best used morning and night, and how often. In the end, choosing to stop using active cosmetics every four days is often unnecessary and can even be counterproductive for your skin goals.

It is proven that retinoids, vitamin C and other active ingredients such as prebiotics and postbiotics as well as vitamin B3 are the most effective in improving skin, provided the skin barrier is strong and healthy.

When designing a healthy skincare regimen, it is important to take into consideration the skin’s sensitivity and tolerance. Selecting the right retinoid, exfoliation, and barrier-repairing product for your skin is crucial. Skin cycling is not necessary to form the perfect skincare regimen.

How to get your skin cycling routine right without Skin Cycling

You will be confused if you purchase skincare products solely based on the latest trends. The majority of skincare professionals know which products to use morning and night, and how frequently.

To avoid any confusion, I recommend a professional or virtual consultation. This will streamline your skincare regimen and tailor it to your skin type, as well as your personal goals. It is the only way to achieve powerful results.

This view will eliminate the need for Skin Cycling, which would only reduce the effectiveness of your custom routine.

After you have chosen the best skincare products for your skin type I will recommend this daily application schedule:

Morning: 1. Cleanse. Balance (light essences based on water; balancers). Serums, including vitamin C serums or exfoliants*. Always apply from the thinnest consistency to the thickest. Eyecare 5. Face oil or day moisturizer 6. Solar protection

Exfoliants can be used twice to three times a week in the morning for most skin types. If you have a strong skin barrier and are suffering from moderate to severe acne or sun damage, you may be able use an acidic exfoliant daily until your condition improves.

It is a myth that exfoliants should only be used at night. You can exfoliate the morning, provided that you use sun protection during the day.

Evening: 1. Cleanse. Balance (light essences based on water; balancers). Serums, including your vitamin A/retinoid serum and B3/niacinamide. Apply from the thinnest consistency to the thickest consistency. Eyecare 5. Evening moisturizer or face oil: Weekly: Face masks, other treatments and products.

Terri Vinson, a cosmetic scientist and founder of Synergie Skin, is an ethical chemist who harnesses the synergy between science and nature to formulate active cosmeceutical product ranges. Terri Vinson is a cosmetic chemist and founder of Synergie Skin – a range of active cosmeceutical products, ethically formulated by harnessing the synergy of science and nature. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Immunology and Microbiology, a postgraduate Diploma of Formulating Chemistry and a Diploma of Teaching (Biology & Senior Science). Terri is also a member of Australian Society of Cosmetic Chemists. She is a highly-respected formulator and a sought-after lecturer on cosmetic science. She is also the coauthor of Skinformation: a Clean Science Guide to Beautiful Skin. She is also a senior formulation advisor for the Australasian academy of cosmetic dermal science and the first non doctor to be accepted onto the Vogue Cosmetic Advisory Board.