Have you ever bought a ton of new skincare products, tried them all at the same time and after a few days began breaking out? You start to spiral and wonder “Why is this happening??? I've just invested in these amazing products and they aren't doing their job???” Well… I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase ‘less is more?’ In this case, with skincare, it is definitely a vital lesson we all need to learn and most of us learn it the hard way.
It certainly is fun to apply layer upon layer of serums and actives each night but you'll then be suffering the consequences of an impaired barrier ultimately leading to your skin breaking out (sad react).
Enter! Skin Cycling! I'm sure you've seen this trend all over tik tok recently but, what you may not realise is this is a practice that skincare enthusiasts have performed for years upon years. It allows you to still apply all your favourite magic potions, just in a more beneficial way for your skin without causing harm to your skin's barrier. YAY!
So what is skin cycling? Skin cycling was formally introduced to us by tik toks favourite dermatologist, Dr Whitney Bowe (@drwhitneyboe), it saves us from over-exfoliating and allows the skin to have a proper recovery time.
When you liken it to other routines you may have, like your workout routine, Dr Bowe says “if you're trying to build strength in a particular muscle group, say your leg muscles, you don't load those muscles every single day with heavy weights, that leads to injury, not strength,” following up with “You may focus on your upper body one day and your lower body the next, deliberately building in time for those muscle fibres to repair and grow stronger between sessions." Your skin is no different, when you overload it with actives, your barrier is going to weaken and become impaired bringing out all kinds of complications.
Exactly what does this routine consist of? Well, it's quite simple actually! It's a four-night cycle that includes two nights of applying your potent products and two nights of rest (zzz). Here is what your routine might look like:
Night 1: Exfoliant
Night 2: Retinol
Night 3: Rest
Night 4: Rest
(Back to night 1)
It is also beneficial to keep in mind that you could use two kinds of exfoliants- chemical and physical. A chemical exfoliant is one you apply to the skin and the product does the manual labour for you- you apply an acid topically and it removes the dead skin cells. Whereas with a physical exfoliant you manually remove dead skin cells. This can be done using a scrub, washcloths, brushes etc. However, Dr Bowes does prefer and suggests chemical exfoliants as they can give the skin an immediate glow and create the perfect foundation for night 2.
You can then follow up each morning with your usual AM routine which might consist of a gentle cleanser, vitamin C or barrier support serum, a moisturiser, and SPF ALWAYS! It’s a good idea to keep your morning routine consistent each day to see the best results.