What Is Skin Cycling? Before You Try It, Here’s What You Should Know

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What Is the Latest TikTok Skin Cycling Trend?

If you follow skincare accounts on Instagram or TikTok, you probably noticed “skin cycling” is a new fad circulating. Perhaps your favourite accounts are using the hashtag #skincycling in their posts on social media, or you’ve seen it discussed as an effective way to boost the health of your skin. 

Although numerous TikTok skincare fads are dubious, skin cycling is identified as one that dermatologists back. To attain the best outcome from skin cycling, you will apply alternate skincare treatments on separate days to provide your skin with rest from the powerful active ingredients in acid and retinol-based products.

Keep reading this article to learn more about how to get started with skin cycling and why it works.

What Is Skin Cycling?

Skin cycling is a popular skincare strategy involving powerful cycling treatments, such as peels and retinoid-based products, with healing and downtime days between each treatment. Skin cycling might seem intimidating, yet it is pretty straightforward. So if you’ve been searching for an effective means of providing your skin with a helping hand, this could be the solution you’re looking for.

Essentially, skin cycling is a four-night treatment “cycle” in which an acid-based product is applied on the initial night, retinol is then introduced on the second night and soothing products that enable your skin’s barrier to recover on the third and fourth nights. On TikTok, users state that they experience smoother, brighter-looking skin due to continual skin cycling, minus the feeling of irritation or inflammation that might result from using these products.

The main goal behind this approach is to minimise the adverse reactions frequently linked to active ingredients while gaining their positive effects. As a result, skin cycling is suitable for all skin types but especially beneficial for breakouts, acne-prone and oily skin, and sensitive skin.

The Ultimate Skin Cycling Routine

You will need the following:

1. A glycolic or salicylic acid-based exfoliating product 

2. A product with the active ingredient retinol 

3. A fragrance-free moisturiser or skin serum

Night One — A skin cycle usually starts with an overnight period of liquid exfoliants, which usually contain alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) and the lesser-known polyhydroxy acids (PHAs). These can potentially solve several skin concerns, such as acne, blocked pores and uneven pigmentation. 

Night Two — is dedicated to retinoids, an alternate responsive chemical meant to be applied according to your specific issues. 

Night Three and Four — This is followed for the next two nights by applying a nourishing moisturiser or serum.

The Science behind Skin Cycling and Dr Tan’s Expert Opinion

Active ingredients alpha-hydroxy acid (AHAs), beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) and retinoids are proven and scientifically developed ingredients. Yet it may be difficult to understand how and when to use these products to gain the most out of them. A skin cycling routine will help you build an efficient and effective method of getting the most benefit from these active ingredients. 

For a long time, dermatologists have recommended rotating application of active ingredients. Dr Tan has observed the impact in his aesthetic clinic on Harley Street, in London: 

“We always devise a personalised treatment plan with a gradual introduction of our topical skin products for many years. This approach has proven to be extremely effective.”

Dr Tan adds that your skincare routine should also be revised on an ongoing basis and recommends skin cycling if you want to start using a new product containing retinol or other highly active ingredients.

“It can be modified, but additionally has the potential to be utilised repeatedly based on the way your skin reacts with the ‘active’ ingredients. At Harley Street MD, we offer free consultations to ensure you get the very best out of our medical grade, skincare products and aesthetic treatments.” Dr Tan tells us.

But Dr Tan emphasises that the practice of skin cycling isn’t an all-or-nothing strategy. The process depends on your skin type and condition. A two-night break from acid and retinol-based products may not be necessary for someone with resilient skin that has grown used to applying active ingredients. 

And if you have dry or sensitive skin, you may need longer than two nights to avoid compromising the skin barrier. Additionally, you may need to use a lower concentration of retinol while your skin develops tolerance. Irrespective of your skin type, be vigilant to apply sun protection with SPF 50 every morning, as active ingredients can make you more sensitive to harmful sun rays.

Take Away

Skin cycling demands dedication and consistency, like almost everything associated with effective skincare regimen. You should typically see results within 8 to 12 weeks. As long as you choose to continue, over time, the results will gradually become more noticeable. You can anticipate reduced signs of acne and smoother, plump skin with a decrease in the severity of facial lines and wrinkles, PLUS an improvement in hyperpigmentation, scars and premature ageing due to damage from the sun.

For more information about skincare and aesthetic procedures for minimising scars, sun damage and fine lines, get in touch to arrange a free consultation at our Harley Street clinic in London.

Founder at Harley St M.D.
Dr. Chia Tan is a UK trained medical doctor that specialises in cosmetic and aesthetic medicine and testosterone replacement therapy. He is qualified as a medical doctor since 2003 and has since trained extensively. He has been featured in several leading magazines as well as invited to appear on TV to discuss aesthetic medicine and the latest cosmetic procedures.
Dr. Chia Tan
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