Are you intimidated by incorporating exfoliants or retinoids into your routine? Or have you ever had a bad reaction because you’re unaware of what skincare products are compatible with each other?
The latest skincare trend to hit newsfeeds is skin cycling. So what is skin cycling for everyone, and how can you benefit from this skincare breakthrough?

What Is Skin Cycling?
According to one article from Today News, “Skin Cycling is essentially a four-night skin care regimen that you repeatedly cycle through to simplify your routine and potentially reduce inflammation from active ingredients.”
Not all skin types can tolerate using concentrated exfoliating acids or retinoids. These products promote cell turnover and can increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun. It’s best not to mix these active products because it can increase irritation and delay results.
So the solution is to cycle through your products.

4 Step Skin Cycling
Today News and Dr. Whitney Bowe claim skin cycling routines include the following: “night one is exfoliation, night two is for retinoids, and nights three and four are recovery nights.”
Why is this routine growing in popularity?
The four-night schedule allows your skin to adjust to your particular active ingredients like BHA or Tretinoin while giving it enough time to recover, repair, and reap the benefits.
In one interview with Byrdie, Dr. Bowe compares skin cycling to building muscle and working out:
“If you’re trying to build strength in a particular muscle group, say leg muscles, you don’t load these muscles every single day with heavy weight, that leads to injury…the same holds for your skin. When you use exfoliating acids and retinoids every day, you’re damaging your skin barrier.”
Skin Cycling At Night
It’s essential to skin-cycle at night to promote the best results. Active ingredients can increase your sensitivity to the sun and break down if not protected, leading to irritation rather than healthy skin.
Applying active ingredients at night allows them time to work before you use SPF in your morning routine.
Night 1 – Exfoliation
The first night is reserved for exfoliation, including chemical or physical. However, chemical exfoliants have increased in popularity due to their efficacy—some common exfoliants to choose from include AHAs, BHAs, or PHAs.
Chemical exfoliants are usually available in a serum form, so you can apply them after cleansing and toning. Then, you can finish off with a moisturizer. It can also help to keep your night routine minimal to ensure you get the most from skin cycling.
Night 2- Retinoid
The second night is all about retinoids. This product can be tricky to work with because everyone can react to retinoids differently. In addition, results can vary if you’ve tried over-the-counter retinol or a prescription for Tretinoin.
It’s always recommended to apply retinoids again to avoid irritation or sensitivity. Also, a little product goes a long way, so slathering this product on is no longer needed. You can pair retinoids with barrier-repairing creams.
Finally, your dermatologist may recommend applying retinoid on a dry face and waiting 30 min after cleansing to use this product. However, always consult your provider first.
Night 3 & 4 – Recovery
Nights three and four are about replenishing the skin and helping it recover. Now is the time to layer your ceramides and other barrier-repairing ingredients. These two nights will ensure your skin is strong enough to withstand another round of active ingredients.
You may enter a purging phase familiar with retinoids, which can be balanced with a nourishing nighttime routine.
Another crucial part of recovery is SPF. A sunscreen will ensure your skin is protected every morning and allow the chance for your active products to work. It can also minimize irritation, redness, scarring, aging, and breakouts.