Skin cycling: is it just a hype?

Skin cycling: is it just a hype?

We all want clear, smooth and radiant skin, and we want it fast. Waiting for skincare products to show the desired results can make us extremely antsy and sometimes we can’t help but go overboard with the product usage in hopes to see quicker results. But the overuse of ingredients, especially the active ones, can actually cause our skin to act out, resulting in less than desirable consequences such as breakouts, flare ups, swelling and inflammation. 

And so we learn the hard way, that when it comes to caring for our skin, as fragile and vulnerable it is, more isn’t always better. Cue in the skin cycling approach and one begins to realize the importance of rest days for the skin to be in its best possible shape and form. 

So what exactly is skin cycling? To know the answer, keep on reading. We’ll be discussing all the details of what it entails, its benefits and how to go about doing it. 

So let’s get into it shall we?

What is skin cycling?

With a hashtag boasting more than 180 million views on TikTok, skin cycling is described in the following words by Whitney Bowe, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and creator of the method: “Skin cycling is cycling through your evening skincare products to maximize results and minimize irritation,”. 

It involves the allocation of a night each, first to exfoliation, and then to retinoid, followed by three to four nights to the use of only hydrating and moisturizing products to allow the skin to repair itself, followed by a repetition of the cycle. 

This alternation allows the skin to have some down time after the use of strong and potent ingredients on the first two nights, enabling the skin to not only get the most out of the active ingredients used but to also repair the waning skin barrier. 


This method promotes optimum skin health as well as the reduction of skin irritation from active ingredients, making it especially effective for those with sensitive skin as well as skin ridden with acne, eczema, rosacea and discoloration.

Note that this routine is a PM skincare routine. The AM routine stays the same. 

What makes skin cycling effective?

  • Skin cycling is a minimalist routine, and requires a handful of products instead of the usual ten products and up skin care routines. 
  • This method prevents the application of layer after layer of products all in one go as that usually results in angry and irritated skin. 
  • Skin cycling allows a strategic application of skincare products, enabling them to complement each other and increase their effectiveness. 
  • By sticking to a few actives each night, followed by healing and moisturizing ingredients for the next few nights, you can determine whether the active ingredients are suited for your particular skin type or not. 
  • It is a rather flexible framework, allowing you to customize your skincare routine as per your skin’s needs. 

What are the benefits of skin cycling? 

  • Skin cycling promotes softer and smoother skin.
  • Reduces skin sensitivity and blotchiness.
  • Helps to reduce wrinkles, fine lines, breakouts and dark spots. 
  • Promotes healthier, glowing and radiant skin. 

How to do skin cycling?

  • Night 1: Exfoliation 
It makes sense to start off the cycle with exfoliation as it helps to slough away dead skin cells, making the absorption of the rest of the skin care products more effective, enabling them to penetrate deeper into the skin’s layers. 
While exfoliation is touted as the solution to almost all skin problems, over-exfoliation is a thing and can exacerbate the skin, compromising the health and integrity of the skin barrier. 
Chemical exfoliants such as glycolic acid and salicylic acid are well suited for this step and are better than physical scrub according to Bowe. Start with a cleansed face and follow it up with exfoliation. Once you’re done, you may go in with a moisturizer and then call it a night. 

  • Night 2: Retinoid 
The second night is all about retinoids, which are vitamin A derivatives and are great for anti-aging, making the skin appear firmer, youthful and more radiant. However, they can be extremely irritating and should therefore be introduced to any routine slowly and gradually. 
With skin cycling, the use of retinol is every fourth or fifth night, helping to reduce the chance of irritation and inflammation while also giving the skin ample time to reap its benefits. 
Start with a cleansed face and pat it dry. If your skin is especially sensitive, it may be a good idea to lightly moisturize before applying the retinoid. If your skin still feels dry after application, you may moisturize on top of it as well. 

  • Night 3 & 4: Recovery 
The next two nights are all about healing and giving your skin a break from the acids and retinoids. Other than a gentle cleanser, your night time routine should include nourishing and hydrating products that will help to restore and repair the skin barrier. Make sure that the products you use are free of irritating ingredients to ensure maximum skin healing. 
We recommend the Leovard Multicream and Serum for these nights of recovery as well as the Leovard Elixir for a little bit of extra love and pampering. 




The amazing thing about skin cycling is that you can easily adjust it according to your own skin’s needs. If your skin is extremely sensitive, you may increase the recovery nights and if you believe your skin can handle the acids and retinoids, you may omit one recovery night. 

All in all, the skin cycling approach ensures that you get the most out of your products while reducing the chances of things getting out of hand, in turn promoting softer, smoother and radiant skin.

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