The Art of Skin Cycling Your Skincare Routine

It’s crucial to be intentional about your skin care for several reasons; prioritize your skin health, prevent sun damage and skin cancer, boost your confidence, slow the signs of aging over time, and so many more. An intentional skin care routine, often including skin cycling, is the foundation for achieving and maintaining healthy, radiant skin. It involves following a regimen tailored to your specific skin needs and goals. But what is skin cycling, really?

What is “skin cycling?”

The term "skin cycling" refers to taking a cyclical approach to your facial skincare routine. The intentional use of specific products on different days regenerates the skin and improves skin quality more effectively. Skin cycling often includes a four-night cycle, usually the first night being an exfoliating night, followed by a retinol night, followed by two recovery nights, and then the cycle repeats. This can all change depending on outside factors, such as a person’s hormonal cycle or seasonal changes. 

The goal of skin cycling is to optimize your skin care routine for better results while minimizing the risk of overusing or overloading the skin with products. It’s important to note that effective skin cycling requires a personalized approach, so what works for one person may not work for another person. This means as you introduce yourself to skin cycling, it may require some experimentation and monitoring of your skin’s response. 

How do I customize a skin cycle routine for myself?

There are many factors to take into account when customizing a skin cycling routine for yourself, such as your skin type, your skin goals, your hormonal cycle, and the season. It’s important to identify your skin type when customizing your skin cycle because those with oily or acne-prone skin would have a different cycle compared to someone with dry skin. For example, an oily-skinned person could use retinol products more frequently than someone with dry skin. 

What’s an example of a skin cycling routine?

-Night Number 1: Exfoliation

On exfoliation night, you’ll start by cleansing and patting the skin dry. After this, you’ll exfoliate the skin, which takes off the dead skin cells from the surface layer of your skin. This allows the following products to penetrate deeper and be more effective. After exfoliating the skin, it’s important to moisturize the skin to protect the skin barrier and keep the skin from becoming dehydrated.

For physical exfoliation, we recommend the Alastin Skincare Resurface Skin Polish, a medical-grade skin care exfoliating scrub. For an exfoliating mask, we recommend the Revision Skincare Pumpkin Enzyme Mask, a gentle exfoliant with rich aromas of pumpkin. 

-Night Number 2: Retinoids

This night is focused on retinoids, which help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Retinoid products include prescription medications, like tretinoin, and other less intensive products, like retinol. Retinoids are an important factor in customizing your skin cycling routine, but can be irritating for people who are new to retinol or those with dry skin. 

Before applying any products, cleanse the skin and pat dry. A helpful tip for those especially sensitive to retinoids is to moisturize sensitive areas of the face before putting the retinoid product on. This can help any excessive irritation or peeling that may result from the retinoid use. And if your skin is still feeling dry, you can moisturize again on top of the retinoid.

For new retinol users, we recommend the Alastin Skincare Renewal Retinol 0.25 because of its gentle formula. For more seasoned retinol users, we recommend the Alastin Skincare Renewal Retinol 0.50 because of its more potent retinol formula. 

-Nights Number 3 and 4: Recovery

The recovery period, typically nights three and four, is the final step of the skin cycling routine. On recovery nights, you don’t want to exfoliate your skin or use any retinol products to give your skin an opportunity to recover and heal. These nights should focus on hydrating and moisturizing ingredients.  

It’s important to cleanse your skin before applying a moisturizer. For recovery nights, you do not have to pat the skin dry, as leaving the skin damp can facilitate in hydrating the skin overnight. On hydration nights, you can add in a moisturizing mask, hyaluronic acid products, or anything that will help your skin stay moisturized and calm. 

This skin cycling routine can be adjusted according to your skin type and what your individual needs are at the time. For example, those with dry skin may add another day to their recovery period, making it three days of recovery and a five day cycle. On the other hand, someone with oily skin or skin that’s well-adjusted to retinol can reduce their recovery period to one day, making their skin cycle a three day cycle instead of four. 

For extra hydration and healing properties, we recommend the Epionce Skincare Enriched Firming Mask because of its hydrating and soothing properties. This can be left overnight for intensive hydration and healing.

Starting your skin cycling journey

With the exfoliation, retinoid, and moisturizing recovery period of skin cycling, your skin will look its best when it’s tailored to your specific skin and goals. When starting your skin cycling journey, it’s important to remember that patience and consistency are essential to see long-term results. 


Written by: Kate White