I will admit, I am a Gen X-er and not often up to date on the ever changing Instagram and Tiktok trends. But within the last few months we have been inundated with questions and comments about a recent Tik Tok trend called “skin cycling.” So of course we had to dive in and gather all of the opinions around here from the Physician’s Assistants, Dermatologists, Aestheticians and Medical Assistants. Specializing in Dermatology we found some strong, educated opinions.
This term was coined by Whitney Bowe, a New York based Dermatologist. The term is new but the concept is not.
Skin Cycling Steps:
Night 1: Use a chemical based exfoliant such as glycolic acid or salicylic acid to “prep” the skin.
Night 2: Use a retinoid, a form a vitamin A.
Night 3/4: Do not use any actives or correctives, simply moisturize.
“This could be helpful if you have sensitive skin but you will get better results using a retinol as many nights as possible versus just a few nights a week. This will create more cell turnover giving better and faster results for scarring, hyperpigmentation and anti-aging.” –Allison Clark, MA at Accent Dermatology and Laser Institute
Advice From the Pros
Now as a skincare professional, I don’t hate this. But also as a skincare professional, this is nothing new and certainly not ground breaking. But I suppose to a young Tik Tok viewer, this would be “news.” This would be a very simple and easy regimen one might do if they are just dipping their toe into skincare, if they are very young, OR if they are very sensitive to active ingredients. The concept is that using active ingredients only on certain days and then having rest days helps to prevent the skin barrier from being compromised due to overuse of overly aggressive ingredients.
Many clients come to us wanting to know where to start, they are perhaps doing nothing or only cleansing and moisturizing, wanting to take it up a notch to see more result. On the flip side, we see SO many people, especially younger skincare fanatics that use WAY too much product and buy into every new social media or celebrity inspired product claiming to be amazing. Both of these two types of clients would benefit from skin cycling. The first client to get a foot in the door and start using corrective, active ingredients to start seeing results and the second to stop overusing way too many trendy, aggressive products which are most often causing more issues.
Overuse of aggressive ingredients breaks down the skin’s barrier, causing redness, dryness, irritation and even more acne sometimes as the skin’s pH is not balanced.
Using too many ingredients such as 1-2 serums, then an antioxidant, then an exfoliant, then a moisturizer, then an SPF for example is often times just a waste as many of those ingredients cannot get through all of the layers of product to the skin.
With that being said, I don’t love the idea of skin cycling for someone wanting results and as a skincare professional I would recommend someone use less concentrated or aggressive active ingredients, more often. Consistency is key when it comes to skincare. Just like going to the gym! 1-2 nights of product such as retinol and AHA/BHA are not enough to see good results. These products are going to be more effective when used regularly than sporatically.
“To get the most out of a retinol or any tretinoin product you need to use it consistently. It’s best to use something that your skin will tolerate on a nightly basis because it’s trying to regulate the skin.” –Dr. Stephen Huang, MD, FAAD
I think the reason some people are having so much irritation from their actives is because their provider doesn’t explain how to use it so it doesn’t fry the skin or the person is buying and using something that is not from a skincare professional and they have no guidance. skin cycling skin cycling