Many of us are constantly on the lookout for new ways to care for our skin. The main goal of following a regular skincare routine is to keep your complexion healthy, hydrated, and youthful as you age.

Skin cycling is one of the latest skincare trends that has been getting a lot of attention, but is it as effective as people say? In this article, we’ll answer the question, “What is skin cycling?” and discuss how it can enhance your complexion.

What is Skin Cycling?

If you’re asking yourself, “What is skin cycling?” you should know that it’s a skincare trend created by dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe [1] that first became popular on TikTok, and many people have implemented it into their daily lives.

Skin cycling is a four-day process where you cycle the type of skincare products you use daily. Dr. Bowe explains that the aim of days one and two is to get your skin out of its comfort zone, and the last two days allow it to rest and recover.

How Skin Cycling Works

Skin cycling focuses on exposing your complexion to ingredients that may be somewhat harsh. The idea is to get your skin accustomed to them gradually, so you can eventually apply ingredients like retinoids without worrying about skin irritation. Let’s take a closer look at how the four-day system works.

Night 1: Exfoliation

The cycle starts with exfoliation. Consider the fact that dead cells accumulate on your skin constantly, and your body replaces them with newer cells. While a cleanser can effectively remove dirt and impurities, it doesn’t get rid of all the dead skin cells.

For this reason, the goal of night one of your skin cycling routine is to exfoliate your complexion [2]. This can also open up and unclog your pores, which is great for people who struggle with acne. There are several options available, but we highly recommend the Glowpeel Dermal Exfoliation and Skin Resurfacing Repair Serum.

Night 2: Retinoids

On the second night of skin cycling, you apply retinoids [3]. While it’s an irritant for some people, retinol can improve the overall health of your skin and it has powerful anti-aging benefits.

Nights 3 and 4: Recovery

Days three and four of your night skincare routine focus on recovery. The first two days you expose your skin to exfoliants and retinoids, so you have to allow it to recuperate. Use gentle products during the recovery phase, as the main goal is to hydrate your complexion.

Skin Cycling Frequency

Now that you know the answer to the question, “What is skin cycling?” we want to share an important point about frequency. It may be tempting to do the entire cycle continuously, but overdoing it could damage the skin barrier. However, it also comes down to the specific products you use. If you choose exfoliants and formulas with retinoids that aren’t overly harsh on your skin, you may be able to do the cycle more often.

What Are the Benefits of Skin Cycling?

Understanding the advantages of skin cycling can help you determine whether it’s something you want to try. Let’s take a closer look at the specific benefits.

Repairs the Skin Barrier

Your skin has a barrier that both protects your body and contributes to your outward appearance. Exposure to chemicals, environmental pollutants, and other particles can damage the skin barrier, and certain products can worsen the issue.

Cycling your routine allows the skin to properly recover and heal. If you follow the cycling system we outlined and use high-quality skincare products, you’ll notice that it repairs your skin’s natural barrier.

Reduces the Side Effects of Skincare Products

Even high-quality skincare products may sometimes cause side effects, especially if you have a sensitive complexion. This makes the process of caring for your skin difficult, which is where skin cycling is beneficial. With patience and consistency, this process can allow your skin to get accustomed to the products you use and reduce or eliminate side effects.

Protects the Skin From Climate Changes

Many people find that their skin health is different in summer compared to winter. At certain times of the year, your complexion may become dry and irritated, and if so skin cycling can help protect it from developing these issues.

As the seasons change, you can also modify your skincare routine and cycle products to get your skin used to the ingredients you plan to use in the upcoming months.

Who Should and Shouldn’t Try Skin Cycling?

Some people are a good fit for skin cycling, however, it isn’t suitable for everyone. If you’ve never used retinol and want to begin, skin cycling may be a good choice for you as it will help your skin get accustomed to this ingredient.

Cycling is also a good option for people with a sensitive complexion, as it gradually introduces the skin to ingredients that could trigger a reaction. However, if you have a wound or a skin condition like eczema or dermatitis, it’s important to talk to your dermatologist before you try cycling.

Try Skin Cycling

What Should You Keep in Mind When You Begin Cycling?

Now that you know the answer to the question, “What is skin cycling?” and how it works, there are a couple of things you should keep in mind if you decide to give it a try. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key points to consider.

  • Product Choice: One of the most important aspects of the process is product choice. The skin cycling system we described tells you what type of products to use and when, however, if you take a look at the skincare market, you’ll quickly realize that there are many different exfoliants and retinol-based options available.

    Make sure you choose high-quality formulas that are appropriate for your skin type and condition.

  • Customization: While the creator of skin cycling did set some ‘rules,’ it’s important to note that everyone’s skin is unique. What works for one person may not be suitable for another, so you should customize the routine based on your complexion. For example, if your skin is struggling to get used to retinoids, add more recovery days.
  • Patience: While skin cycling is one of the few TikTok trends that is legit, it still takes time for optimal results. You may notice some sensitivity at first, but if you continue to implement this skincare routine you should experience real results. That’s why it’s important to have patience with skin cycling and give it some time.


Should you do skin cycling for 3 days or 4?

While there are only three steps involved in skin cycling, it’s important to note that it lasts for four days in total. This is because the final step, recovery, lasts for two nights while the first two steps are only one night each.

Why should you do skin cycling?

There are several important reasons you should do skin cycling. First, it helps your complexion get accustomed to some of the common ingredients in skincare products. In addition, it improves skin health, promotes radiance, and reduces the buildup of dead cells.

Should you only do skin cycling at night?

Yes, you follow the skin cycling steps during your nighttime skincare routine only. However, you use different products depending on the night.

The Bottom Line

Skin cycling is an effective way to improve skin health and appearance, and it also helps to get your complexion adapted to common ingredients like retinoids. However, it’s not the ideal approach for everyone, so keep the considerations we shared in mind.