What Is “Skin Cycling”, and Should You Try It?

If you spend a lot of time perusing beauty magazines or following skin care enthusiasts on social media, you’ve likely encountered the term skin cycling. Encompassing a multi-day changing regimen of beauty products including the latest effective skin care ingredients, skin cycling could change your entire beauty routine. But what is skin cycling, and is it right for you?

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    What Is Skin Cycling?

    Skin cycling involves switching between different skin care products over a 4-day period and then repeating the cycle from the start. The intention is to reduce exposure to harsher ingredients while still providing the benefits of specific targeted compounds that control blemishes, reduce redness, fight the visible signs of aging and hydrate skin. This type of skin care strategy could be especially beneficial for people with sensitive skin.

    How It Works

    Skin cycling works by limiting the use of specific skin care products to only once or twice in each 4-day cycle. Targeted ingredients are used only at night on specific days of the cycle. You still have to wash your face every day, so a skin cycling regimen presumes you’ve already used a facial cleanser before you start applying other products.

    Before you can try skin cycling, you need to identify your skin’s specific needs and build an appropriate skin care routine. This type of skin care strategy works on top of regular hydration, so you can continue to use your regular cleanser, moisturizer and serums while adding extra products or processes on days one and two of the cycle.

    The Four Steps of Skin Cycling

    When you opt into this routine, you begin a 4-day cycle with specific product usage assigned to each day. Here are the basic steps of skin cycling.

    Day 1

    The first night of your skin cycling regimen is all about exfoliation. The purpose of exfoliation is to remove dead skin cells and deep cleanse your pores so your skin is ready for moisturizers and targeted ingredients. Exfoliation may help beneficial ingredients penetrate more deeply, increasing their effectiveness in the long run.

    Exfoliation might include the use of a physical or chemical exfoliator, both of which can be harsh on the skin if used too often. Exfoliating too often could cause redness or make the skin more sensitive to other ingredients. Limiting exfoliation to once every 4 days helps prevent irritation while ensuring you have this essential task on your regular skin care schedule.

    Day 2

    Day two of your skin cycling regiment is designed to introduce specific powerful anti-aging compounds to your skin. This might mean using a serum containing bakuchiol, a retinoid-like ingredient derived from edible seeds and used to target blemishes and fine lines.  A custom face serum includes the specific ingredients that work best with your skin type.

    Day 3

    This night is focused on recovery, so the only thing you add to your skin after a thorough cleansing is moisturizer. Depending on your skin’s needs, you might use a moisturizer tailored for dry skin or one designed to control oil production. A hydrating serum adds extra moisture to especially dry skin.

    Some ingredients you might find in a custom moisturizer designed to be used on every day of your skin cycling routine, including recovery days, include hyaluronic acid, oat oil and vitamin C. Mild yet effective ingredients such as these don’t require a rest period between use.

    Day 4

    The fourth night in a skin cycling routine is another rest and recovery night, so you use the same products as on day 3. After this night, the cycle is complete and you start over again and day 1. On these two final days of skin cycling, you can apply serum and moisturizer while your skin is still damp to increase overall hydration.

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    Reasons to Try Skin Cycling

    Once you’ve gotten the answer to the question “what is skin cycling?”, the reasons to try it should be clear. If you have sensitive skin or are prone to skin irritation and redness, skin cycling can limit exposure to specific compounds without giving them up altogether. 

    Skin cycling is gentler than a regimen of applying strong products every day, so it is a good way to ensure your skin adapts to new ingredients. With this type of system, your skin has time to rest between intense treatments and repair the skin barrier. 

    The 4-day cycle is also easy to maintain and track. Because you know exactly which products to use when, there’s no guesswork involved. If you like having a predictable skin care schedule, combining cycling with custom products tailored precisely to your skin simplifies your daily routine.

    Considerations When Using a Skin Cycling Routine

    Because this is designed to be part of your nighttime routine, you still need to maintain a daily habit of cleaning your face each morning and applying a daytime moisturizer. You can also use products such as sunscreen to protect your face from UV damage. 

    Some people adjust their skin cycling routine after a few weeks or months. You might discover that you need less recovery time and drop the final rest day to make yours a 3-day cycle. If your skin is especially sensitive, you might switch to a 5- or 6-day cycle that includes more recovery days. 

    Like all skin care systems, consistency is key. Your skin is likely to do best when you regularly use hydrating ingredients and maintain a consistent habit of cleansing morning and night. Skin cycling lets you add extra steps in a controlled, convenient way that reduces the chance of irritation.

    When it comes to skin care, having a regular routine with products you trust is essential. Customized skin care takes your specific needs into account to help you look and feel your best. Take the Prose skincare consultation questionnaire to get your personalized recommendation for everything from facial cleansers to moisturizers and serums.