Everything You Need to Know About Skin Cycling 


With more than 122.3M associated views on TikTok, skin cycling has become the latest social media buzz in the skincare industry. Many people like it, and many experts believe it could revolutionize skincare as we know it and help improve the effectiveness of our beauty products. In this article, we shall dive into this concept and explore the potential benefits of skin cycling.

What Is Skin Cycling? 

According to a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, Debra Wattenberg, MD, skin cycling is not a skincare regime that involves a spin workout for your skin, but rather, it describes a pattern where you apply the same products with ‘rest days.’ According to the creator of the skincare regime, Whitney Bowe -a board-certified dermatologist- skin cycling is a method that cycles your evening skincare products to ensure optimal results and lessen the possibilities of irritation. 

According to Whitney Bowe, this skincare regime includes a four-night cycle. The regime consists of skin care products such as: 

  • An exfoliator (think salicylic acid);
  • A retinoid; and
  • A moisturizer.

What is the Process of Skin Cycling? 

First night: Exfoliation

The first night of this cycle involves the exfoliation of the skin. First, you will cleanse and pat dry the skin, followed by exfoliation. Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells from the skin’s surface. According to Bowe, strict adherence to the order is vital as this initial procedure will ensure a deep and proper penetration of the other products. After exfoliating, you moisturize the skin. Although, you should note that frequent and incorrect exfoliation of the skin will lead to redness and irritation. 

Second Night: Retinoids 

The second night involves retinoids, which are vitamin A derivatives. According to Harvard Health Publishing, using retinoids can help you reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Bowe notes that retinoids are one of the significant products you can use in your skincare journey. However, Bowe notes that using this product also comes with a disclaimer. Using retinoids for the first time may irritate the skin, especially in cases where your skin is quite sensitive. Therefore, before applying such retinoids, you must cleanse your skin and pat it dry. It is ideal to initially moisturize the sensitive areas for sensitive skin before applying the retinoid. 

Third and Fourth Night: Recovery 

According to Bowe, you pause using exfoliating acids and retinoids to allow your skin to recover. Instead, hydration and moisture are the routines for the third and fourth nights. On these days, you may cleanse your skin before moisturizing, although you may leave your skin a little damp. You may also apply a hydrating serum before moisturizing. 


In conclusion, your cycle timing may greatly vary based on your skin. Therefore, you may need to increase your recovery nights in cases of sensitive skin. Finally, you can continue this practice for as long as you feel you need to, making modifications as you go on your skincare journey. This will largely depend on your skin’s response to the active ingredients.