While internet trends seem to end as quickly as they began, there’s one that appears to be here to stay. “Skin cycling,” a term coined by New York dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe, has taken TikTok and its dedicated skin care communities by storm. Some skin cycling videos have attracted upwards of 250,000 likes with the hashtag “#skincycling” skyrocketing to over 170 million views.
Skin cycling is the method of “cycling” through different skin care products on different days. Conventional retinol is at the core of skin cycling, an ingredient so harsh that you can only use it on the second night followed by two days of recovery for your skin. This method also involves cycling through your products on different days to allow for “rest days.”
If you're undecided about skin cycling and conventional retinol, an easier option is to select skin care with a gentle Natural Retinol Alternative. Eminence Organics products only contain Natural Retinol Alternatives rather than conventional retinol so that you don’t need to space out the frequency of use. Keep reading to find out more about your options — whether skin cycling is your preference or whether natural alternatives are the right choice for you.
Skin cycling is a type of nightly skin care routine that is designed to help you regulate your use of strong skin care products. The method also involves cycling through your products on different days to allow for “rest days.” Rest days allow your skin to repair and avoid irritation while reaping the benefits of active ingredients used during the active part of your cycle.
A typical skin cycling routine keeps things simple by following this approximate schedule:
- Night 1: Exfoliate
- Night 2: Conventional Retinol
- Night 3: Recovery and Moisturizing
- Night 4: Recovery and Moisturizing
Rest days are crucial during skin cycling because conventional retinol is overly harsh on the skin if used every day.
Retinol is a powerful ingredient made from Vitamin A. Small molecules penetrate beneath the epidermis (outer layer of skin) to your dermis (middle layer of skin), which boosts the production of collagen and elastin, Healthline explains.
Your skin should appear plumper, with a reduction in fine lines, wrinkles and acne scarring. Skin cycling creator Dr. Bowe explains to Pop Sugar that using retinol “too frequently” or layering it with other potentially irritating ingredients may create skin inflammation rather than lead to results. “Because of this, it's best to use retinol on its own as the only exfoliating or resurfacing ingredient in your routine,” states Pop Sugar.
At Eminence Organics, our products do not contain conventional retinol. Instead, we formulate products with a Natural Retinol Alternative that mimics retinol’s effects. Natural Retinol Alternative can be used day or night and offers the smoothing and firming benefits of traditional retinol without irritation. This complex gives the skin a lifted and tightened appearance, improves skin firmness and elasticity and minimizes the visible signs of aging.
As dermatologists and skin care enthusiasts will enthusiastically point out, a skin cycling routine has several benefits. If you have a complex ritual, skin cycling can help simplify your routine and determine which products and routines no longer work for you. Another major benefit is that the practice minimizes irritation. Dermatologist Dr. Marisa Garshick tells Elle, “It can be especially good for those with dry or sensitive skin who otherwise may not be able to tolerate a retinoid or exfoliant.” Skin cycling could also benefit sensitive skin types since the rest days allow the skin to repair and recover and focus on rehydrating and replenishing your moisture barrier.
One skin type that won’t benefit from skin cycling is oily skin types, especially if your skin is subject to frequent breakouts. In a video from Doctorly, dermatologist Dr. Muneed Shah says that using conventional retinol “every fourth day, especially when you have acne or something you’re really trying to target, is probably too infrequent … to see benefits.”
According to our Product Support Representatives, skin cycling is an introduction for those who are looking to sustain a “consistent exfoliating routine.” Skin cycling may also be an option if you’re heavy-handed or prone to over-indulging in skin care products. In an interview with Elle, Dr. Bowe explains, "[Skin cycling] takes a “less-is-more approach” to your routine. Rather than adding more products on top of one another, this encourages the use of products strategically.”
How To Start Skin Cycling: A Routine
If you're convinced that skin cycling is the best option for you, you may be inspired to start right away. There’s a good chance you already have the skin cycling products you need as there are only three types of steps. Before we start, set a reminder on your phone calendar to help you keep track of which day you’re on in your skin cycle.
Night 1: Prep And Exfoliate
Begin your skin cycling routine by cleansing the skin, patting it dry and then exfoliating. Exfoliation eliminates the skin’s dull surface layer by buffing away dead skin cells, makeup and impurities to leave skin clean and smooth. With regular exfoliation, you should notice smoother skin, a reduction in the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and clearer pores.
Eminence Organics offers a wide range of exfoliating products. Some of our favorite exfoliants include the best-selling Stone Crop Oxygenating Fizzofoliant, the delicious Yam & Pumpkin Enzyme Peel 5% (paired with the Soothing Chamomile Tonique) and the warming Turmeric Energizing Treatment.
You may prefer two-for-one products. In that case, you can combine your exfoliant into your cleansing step and use the Monoi Age Corrective Exfoliating Cleanser or the Charcoal Exfoliating Gel Cleanser.
Night 2: Apply A Conventional Retinol
Apply conventional retinol on the second night of your skin cycling routine. Like exfoliants, retinoids come in various formulas, from masks, to creams and serums.
Night 3: Recovery and Moisturizing
Come night three, you’ll want to give your skin some time to rest and repair. Now is the perfect time to introduce masks, serums and hydrators made with soothing, calming and replenishing ingredients. Recovery days are about letting your skin bounce back from the intensive, active ingredients you applied on the first two days of your cycle.
The Kombucha Microbiome Balancing Essence and Kombucha Microbiome Leave-On Masque are chock full of natural ingredients that soothe and relieve skin’s moisture barrier. You can also use the Strawberry Rhubarb Hyaluronic Serum for hydrating on recovery days as it contains a deeply replenishing Botanical Hyaluronic Acid Complex.
Night 4: Recovery and Moisturizing
Finish your cycle with the second evening of recovery. You require this second evening to allow your skin to rest and restore with the help of soothing ingredients. The Rosehip Triple C+E Firming Oil, Rosehip & Lemongrass Repair Balm and Apricot Calendula Nourishing Cream are replenishing options, made with rosehip, sunflower oils and moisturizing calendula to keep your complexion looking calm.
You don’t actually need skin cycling to achieve clear skin. As previously mentioned, using a gentle Natural Retinol Alternative mimics conventional retinol to provide similar benefits without the concern of irritation. Like conventional retinol, Natural Retinol Alternative visibly lifts and firms the appearance of skin, smoothing out the look of wrinkles. However, conventional retinol poses side effects including dryness, redness, UV sensitivity and peeling. On the other hand, our Natural Retinol Alternative complex is made from chicory root oligosaccharides and tara tree, botanical ingredients that avoid irritating the skin.
You do not require skin cycling if you simply use products with a Natural Retinol Alternative. If prefer to skip skin cycling, you can use our Age Corrective products, including our cult-favorite Bamboo Firming Fluid, Bamboo Age Corrective Masque, Monoi Age Corrective Night Cream for Face & Neck and Coconut Age Corrective Moisturizer.
If you’re interested in a natural alternative, consider reaching out to an Eminence Spa Partner in your area to help you choose the right option for you.