TikTok has popularized some good trends (sea moss gel, rice water for hair growth, these sex tips, etc), along with a lot of not-so-great trends that should not be attempted (sunscreen contouring, sparkling water + balsamic vinegar = “healthy Coke,” etc). Today, we’re looking at skin cycling, a method of applying skincare products. It’s a four-day cycle that alternates between active ingredients and “rest days” that focus on hydration and repairing the skin’s barrier.
It looks like this:
Night 1: chemical exfoliant
Night 2: retinoid
Nights 3 and 4: rest day
We tapped Kourt’s facialist Sharlena Hassani to share her thoughts on the trend.
“I think the reason skin cycling is becoming a big trend is because it’s introducing a lot of people to the most effective ingredients for improving the skin. It simplifies a more complex concept for someone who otherwise wasn’t using those ingredients, helping them to start incorporating them without feeling overwhelmed and to minimize negative reactions. The cycling of products spreads out the usage of potent ingredients enough that users can reap the benefits without the potential side effects like peeling, redness, and increased sensitivity in the skin.
“Skin cycling is great for someone new to alpha and beta hydroxy acids, like glycolic and salicylic acid, and retinoids, like retinol, retin-A, and tretinoin. Someone who has been using these advanced ingredients in their routine consistently for an extended period of time doesn’t necessarily need to follow a trend like this because with time and consistency, you’re able to build up a tolerance and use those ingredients daily. I notice that most of my clients build up a tolerance to those actives very quickly and can then increase their usage to every other day or every day, depending on their skin.
“Someone with tougher, more problematic skin—someone with, say, persistent acne and deep congestion—can sometimes even handle using alpha and beta hydroxy acids as well as retinoids (depending on the levels and formulations) daily. However, you aren’t just combining the actives with each other alone; you are also layering them with other products that are hydrating and repairing. It’s called layered technology.
“Ultimately, it all depends on your skin type, concerns, and tolerance level. Which is why we recommend consulting a skin professional to help determine the best combo for your skin and your skin goals instead of doing guesswork and compromising on potential long-term results. Skin cycling is great for people who otherwise had no routine or a super simple routine and maintained fine with that but want a boost of skin resurfacing and rejuvenation. It’s also a great way to make the products last longer.”
Next, see what Sharlena has to say about another TikTok skincare trend: skin slugging.