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The Skin Cycling Trend

Skincare can be hard to get right. With so many beauty trends and product innovations to follow, simply caring for your skin can be a little daunting. A handful dermatologists on social media are on a mission to make it easier, specifically Dr. Whitney Bowe, board-certified dermatologist, with a little practice she coined, ‘’skin cycling.’’

With an impressive 3.5 billion views on the hashtag, Skin cycling has taken TikTok by storm. Fans of the trending skincare method are obsessed, and Dr. Bowe is credited for introducing the routine to TikTok. But Dr. Bowe is not alone, hundreds of skin care enthusiasts and dermatologists have embraced the skin cycling routine, adding to the buzz. Keep reading to learn what skin cycling is, how to do it at home, and why it's beneficial.


What is Skin Cycling?

Skin cycling is essentially a four-night skin care regimen you repeat to optimize active ingredients and reduce inflammation. It’s effective because it preserves the skin’s moisture barrier so active ingredients can do their job with minimal irritation. Dr. Bowe’s method leverages the benefits of exfoliants and retinol by alternating them with two nights of recovery. While it may seem as though the first two days of skin cycling are the most important, the rest days are equally important. Giving your skin a chance to breathe, recoup, and become accustomed to the actives from the previous two days is key to prevent flakiness, irritation and dryness.


What Inspired Skin Cycling?

Dr. Bowe noticed people were using products with the highest percentage of certain ingredients, falsely believing they would achieve a better result. She saw this more-is-more approach ending in excessive irritation, so she began skin cycling, focusing intentional product layering and time to let skin rest between cycles. She witnessed her clients’ overall skin health improve. Texture was refined, softness increased and overall radiance was achieved faster, with less stripping and excessive dryness.

Dr. Bowe believes that skin cycling takes your nighttime skin-care routine "to the next level" to deliver optimal  results by being strategic with what products you use and when. It’s no surprise many dermatologists agree with Dr. Bowe’s skin cycling method. Skin cycling is a simple way to stick to a skincare routine at night while giving your skin time to tolerate products (especially ones with high active ingredients).  


What is the Skin Cycling Routine and Best Products to Use?

Skin cycling includes two nights of treatments followed by two nights of recovery. The nightly steps and products we recommend are below:



CLEANSE: AGELESS total facial cleanser OR– MD restoring facial cleanser Hydroxy acid cleansers that remove makeup and jumpstarts skin exfoliation.

SERUM: AGELESS total anti-aging serum – Hydroxy acid serum that continues to exfoliate and stimulate cell turnover while sleeping.

MOISTURIZE: VITAL C hydrating repair crème – Ultra-hydrating and repairing crème packed with antioxidants and nourishing vitamins.



CLEANSE: (repeat cleanser options from night 1).

SERUM: MD restoring retinol booster – Oil-based retinol serum that targets skin aging, texture, and dark spot concerns. (Note: May be layered under or mixed into chosen Retinol crème or overnight masque.)

MOISTURIZE: Retinol crème OR overnight masque – Helps minimize visible signs of skin aging and improves skins texture and tone. (Choose from chart below, depending on desired Retinol percentage.)



CLEANSE: VITAL C hydrating facial cleanser – Gentle cleanser that removes makeup and leaves the skin soft and hydrated.

SERUM: VITAL C hydrating anti-aging serum – Hydrating and soothing serum that provides antioxidant defense against environmental stressors.

MOISTURIZE: VITAL C hydrating repair crème – Ultra-hydrating and repairing crème packed with antioxidants and nourishing vitamins. 

skin cycling


Although skin cycling addresses your evening skincare routine, your daytime routine is still important. Using a balancing facial cleanser, and broad-spectrum SPF moisturizer will round-out your 24-hr skin care process.


Is Skin Cycling Good for Acne?

Many dermatologists agree skin cycling is beneficial for milder forms of acne. Most will experience improvements in overall skin health, specifically hyperpigmentation, skin texture and pore size. Exfoliation and retinol are important tools in the fight against acne, so if you’ve already gotten into traditional skin cycling, then a more blemish-free glow could be within reach. Still, skin cycling for more severe acne cases should be handled delicately. Treating troublesome acne requires more consistency and fewer breaks. It’s important to avoid over-exfoliating or drying out the skin too much. For tougher cases, a visit to your dermatologist is never a bad idea.


How Long Does Skin Cycling Take to Work?

According to Dr. Bowe, improvements from skin cycling can appear after two cycles. At this stage, blotchiness and sensitivity should lessen, and skin will appear smoother, softer, and more radiant. Over time, fine lines, wrinkles, breakouts, and dark spots are expected to improve.

 skin cycling face

The Verdict

Overall, skin cycling’s pared-back approach is proving to be as effective as it is buzzy. Though the method is technically not “new,” Dr. Bowe is one of many dermatologists who have endorsed it and tested it to prove its relevance today. That said, it’s important to note results from any skincare routine (even the trendy ones) depends on multiple factors. Current skin health, age, lifestyle habits, sun exposure and hormonal issues should all be considered. In short, no one-size-fits-all routine will magically work for everyone.

However, we believe skin cycling is more than just a trend. A system that preserves the skin barrier, maximizes product effectiveness, and can easily be integrated into your routine is easy to champion. When it comes to skincare, balance and consistency are essential, and the quality over quantity approach to skincare is one we believe in. 

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