What is Skin Cycling? Helpful Insights From This TikTok Trend

skin cycling

Besides funny videos and trendy dance moves, it is possible to find some cool hacks on the social media site, Tik Tok- especially quick tips on skin care. One skincare trend that went viral on TikTok is skin cycling, and it could be the skincare routine you have been looking for.

Skin cycling, simply put, is a phrase coined by a renowned New York-based, board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Whitney Bowe, MD. Skin cycling is a term coined to suggest how we should use skin care products on our skin. According to Whitney, instead of using all your skincare products at once, you can use one at a go, setting specific days to use a particular product.  

Why not just use all your skincare products at once?

Well, there is nothing wrong with maintaining the same skincare routine, using various products at once, as long as you understand your skin’s needs. We all have varying skin types and they will respond differently to whatever products we use. A sculpting serum that works for you may not do the same wonders for someone else.

Some people can comfortably use multiple skin products at once while others may have to limit their usage to one or two products in a routine. And how do you know if your skin is reacting negatively to mixing skin products?

Common signs will include;

  • Clogged skin pores
  • Red rashes on the skin
  • Pimples
  • Itchy skin
  • Peeling or flaking skin
  • Skin irritation
  • Irritation around eyes, mouth, and nose

When this happens, sometimes the solution would be as easy as slowing down on the products you use. This allows your skin to breathe a little and is the basis of the whole idea of skin cycling. Skincare enthusiasts are already reaping the benefits of skin cycling, especially people with sensitive skin.


What exactly is skin cycling?

For a little more clarification, think of skin cycling as intermittent fasting for your skin. In intermittent fasting, you skip eating for a few days to allow your digestive system to rest and get rid of toxins in your body. The result is a healthier gut, better tolerance to food, and the one major benefit, losing weight and maintaining optimal body mass index.

Skin cycling gives your skin rest days, which is crucial, especially with sensitive skin. Your skin has time to respond to a product before you apply another one. You also have a chance to sample different skincare products and determine what works for you.


Skin cycling advantages you should know

  • Minimizes skin peeling, redness, or irritation that by caused by retinol-based products
  • Skin looks brighter
  • Your skin feels smoother
  • Skin remains properly hydrated


Who is skin cycling for?

Thinking about getting on the skin cycling bandwagon? This skincare trend is ideal if you have sensitive skin and want to experiment with new products, especially those containing retinoids. Also, skin cycling is ideal if you want your skin to breathe and brighten it up in the long run.

On the other hand, this TikTok skincare trend may not be for you if you are already treating a bad breakout. Focus on healing acne before you can try skin cycling. Also, skin cycling may not be necessary if your main skincare goal is reducing wrinkles and fine lines.


How to create a skin cycling routine

Night One:  Exfoliation Night

The first night is all about getting rid of dead skin cells and opening up those clogged pores. Cleanse your skin then exfoliate to remove dead skin cells from your skin’s surface layer. Exfoliating preps your skin to absorb other skincare products better.  

Exfoliating once in four days is safer compared to doing it every day when you have sensitive skin. Some people do develop skin inflammation if they exfoliate one too many times. When choosing a suitable exfoliating product, go for chemical exfoliants because they are gentler compared to scrubs. Of course, try different products and see what works for you.

Once your skin is all prepped up, you are ready for day two. However, you cannot go to sleep without adding a little moisturizer to prevent the skin from feeling too dry. Always choose a moisturizer that is suited for all skin types and uses natural active ingredients like aloe leaf, avocado, or Kakadu plum and minimal artificial ingredients or preservatives.


Night Two: A date with retinoids

Retinoid is a vitamin A derivative that helps reduce wrinkles and fine lines. Retinoid is an ingredient you should always consider when buying or trying new skincare products. When used moderately, it will make your skin look clear and youthful. Do not overuse retinoids as they can irritate the skin, especially when using them for the first time. This is why you should try retinoids in a skin cycling routine to see how your skin responds.


Night Three to Four: Recovery

For these two recovery nights, steer clear of any skincare product to allow your skin to breathe and recover. This would be a good time to repair your outer skin layer, which is your skin barrier. Your skin barrier helps keep moisture in while keeping skin impurities out.

One way to repair a damaged skin barrier is by using a suitable facial serum. Go with a facial serum formulated specifically for skin repair and contains active ingredients like hyaluronic acid.

Hyaluronic acid is a natural compound that helps hydrate connective tissues and body organs. Doing so helps strengthen our skin and increase its resilience.  Also, hyaluronic acid reduces the damaging effects caused by free radicals and other external stressors that cause our skin to age faster.



As with everything in life, moderation is always important. Those frequent breakouts you keep experiencing could be your skin telling you to slow down a bit. The concept of skin cycling is pretty similar to intermittent fasting, but for the skin. 

Divide your skin routine into four days. The first day is for exfoliating, and the second day is for hydrating and repairing with retinoids. The third and fourth days are for giving your skin a break, and you can incorporate a small routine for repairing your skin barrier to ensure it retains moisture while flushing out skin impurities.


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