So what is skin cycling? It's a routine that involves alternating between actives, like exfoliants and retinoids, and giving your skin a chance to rest and repair. The goal is to prevent irritation and inflammation, and help your skin to better tolerate active ingredients. Your skin is a delicate organ and while it can benefit tremendously from actives, too much is almost never a good thing. Until the term skin cycling was coined we would have simply called it a good skincare routine, overall it's something we endorse.
Trying to ignore the barrage of videos calling us all to jump on the skin cycling trend is futile- they're everywhere. It also looks like learning about skincare from social channels like TikTok isn't going away either so, we ask that you're mindful about where you source your information. It isn't news that there's a lot of misguided information out there, so we're going to sort this one together.
Here is a basic skin cycling routine:
Night 1: Exfoliant
Night 2: Retinoid
Night 3: Moisturizer only
Night 4: Moisturizer only
*Adjust the frequency of use of exfoliants and retinoids depending on your skin type and tolerance. If you are considering trying skin cycling start slowly and listen to your skin.
Clearly there is nothing dangerous about the above method, but unfortunately this is not how skin cycling is typically sold. What we see are various influencers, with little skincare expertise, displaying an excessive number of products to be used in rotation. In this case the issue is not about the products themselves but that fact that you need "x" number of different ones for every day of the cycle. Compile them and you'll get a picture of 15+ products. This pollutes the idea of restraint that skin cycling is centered around and also leads to another form of "overdoing" it by asking you to commit the cardinal s(k)in of product hopping. We know for a fact that your skin won't appreciate an assault of products, it's a sure step towards irritation.
Again, the basis of the skin cycling problem is the mass of (MIS)information out there and, unless you're living without the internet, you're consuming it daily. If you're an industry expert you can quickly identify the good bits but, how many of us have the time or understanding to properly filter? Bottom line, if TikTok or Insta are your skincare references, you have to take it upon yourself to think, question, and vet the sources of your information.
At Essentialist we stand by the principles of a gentle, consistent, and restrained approach to caring for skin. We think the fact that the skin cycling trend went viral indicates a collective desperation to solve our skincare issues which we totally get. After years of self-inflicted damage by overdoing it, more people are ready to relearn the basics and find that balance. It's not rocket science, you can do it and skin cycling can help, just make sure to do it right.