When New York-based dermatologist Whitney Bowe dropped her knowledge on skin cycling (the rotational use of skin care products on a four-day cycle), the cosmetology world went into complete and utter chaos. It was as if she was sharing with us the nectar of the gods! But this newfound knowledge didn’t come without some confusion, especially to those who were just starting their skincare journeys! Today, we’ll demystify the act of skin cycling so you can decide if you want to try it out for yourself.
“Miracle” skincare trends and products are constantly being thrown at us, so what makes skin cycling so special? Well, it was formulated by a renowned skincare expert, and all skin types can benefit from it. Dr. Bowe acknowledges the complication many of us put into our daily and nightly skincare routines. She says most people only need to use a few products in a very deliberate way to achieve results.
The Morning Routine
Every morning in the cycle will follow the same format. It’s easy, simple, and effective:
- Wash with a mild cleanser.
- Let your face completely dry, then apply vitamin C.
- Moisten your face with water, then apply hyaluronic acid.
- When the hyaluronic acid has sunk in, follow with a moisturizer.
- Apply three finger-lengths of SPF.
There’s a lot of misconception surrounding how expensive this routine may be. And although Bowe is a big fan of the SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF ($169, shop here) for her vitamin C serum, you don’t need to splurge!
Night One: Exfoliate
Don’t you dare break out a facial scrub! When it comes to proper exfoliation, chemical products are more effective and, surprisingly, more gentle. Yes, your face may not feel as silky smooth as instantly as it would with a scrub, but if you’re trying to avoid redness, dryness, and stripping your face of essential moisture, chemical exfoliation is the way to go. Follow this routine:
- Double-cleanse: first, with an oil-based cleanser, followed by a water-based one. (Double-cleansing is vital if you’ve worn makeup or sunscreen during the day. Even using micellar water followed by a standard face wash will work!
- Allow skin to dry completely, then apply a chemical exfoliant. (AHAs/BHAs will work best for this night.)
- Let any tingling subside, then follow with a moisturizer or night cream.
Bowe’s tip? If your face is burning, rinse off the exfoliant. If it’s tingling, that’s a good thing! She recommends using a leave-on exfoliant rather than a rinse-off one, as the formulations are far more effective.
Night Two: Retinol
When introducing retinol to your skincare routine, slow and steady wins the race! You should not be applying retinol every day, nor should you apply it in excess. Follow these steps:
- Double-cleanse (same as the first night).
- Allow skin to dry, then use the least amount of retinol possible for the entire face.
- Allow skin to dry, then follow with a moisturizer or night cream.
When using retinol, Bowe recommends a drop on the forehead, a drop on the nose, and a drop on the chin. She also suggests adding a drop to the neck. After rubbing it in, acknowledge if your skin feels tight and dry after a minute or two. If it does, apply a more generous amount of moisturizer.
Nights Three and Four: Recovery
These next nights are a vital part of the skin cycling process, as they allow your moisture barrier to replenish and heal, protecting your skin from environmental aggressors and rebuilding the necessary “shield” that your chemical exfoliant and retinol may have weakened.
- Leave skin damp, then apply a hyaluronic acid serum.
- Follow with a moisturizer.
- Follow with a facial oil.
The key to these nights is hydration. Use replenishing ingredients with layering in mind. (If you’re adding products and aren’t sure how to order them, go from the lightest to the heaviest.)
Will you be hopping onto the skin-cycling method? Share your thoughts in the comments!