If you use Tiktok, you’re likely familiar with the platform’s various trends. However, while cute dances and fun pranks are enjoyable at the height of their popularity, every trend has an expiration date, as the internet’s focus can be flighty. So when it comes to a trend where participating could affect your skin health, it’s best to consult the experts to see whether you should try incorporating it into your skincare routine or wait until the fad passes.

Fortunately, Dr. Simran Sethi, an Internal Medicine doctor and the Founder and Medical Director of RenewMD medical spas, shares her knowledge of healthy skincare on The Skin Report podcast. As an accomplished internal medicine professional, Dr. Sethi advises listeners on all things skincare, and this week she discussed the latest Tiktok skincare craze: skin cycling. So keep reading to get the full scoop on the skin cycling trend and learn whether to incorporate it into your skincare routine.

An Introduction to Skin Cycling

So, what exactly is skin cycling, and why does it work? Skin cycling is a scientific approach to skincare treatments, which physicians specializing in skin have used long before it became an internet trend. It is the practice of changing your nightly routine to incorporate harsher products like retinol and exfoliants more safely into your skin care regimen.

Skin cycling works because it incorporates these intense ingredients slowly and safely. Daily use of chemical exfoliants and high-concentration retinol can dry out the skin, leading to inflammation and microtears in the epidermis. However, skin cycling involves incorporating these harsher products into your nighttime routine over a four-day segment. This skin care regimen would ideally enable you to avoid over-processing your skin, as you provide it with enough time to safely process these intense ingredients.

Retinol and exfoliants can be effective anti-aging tools if used safely in your regimen. With skin cycling, you can avoid overprocessing your skin with harsh products that strip the skin of its natural oils and create inflammation and micro tears.

Skin cycling is also beneficial in directly addressing a common mistake consumers make with their skincare routines, where they believe ‘more is better.’ Unfortunately, many skincare product companies don’t sell a “routine” to their customers and instead provide a random array of items. This can lead to customers aggregating their skincare routine from different products and companies and sometimes being overzealous with their approach. This is why Dr. Sethi has formulated her systems-based skincare line that is great to incorporate within a skin cycling routine to help you avoid overprocessing the skin.

The Basics to Getting Started

To get started with skin cycling, ensure your skin routine contains products and ingredients that nourish your skin. This is necessary in order to deliver positive results! For example, Dr. Sethi’s medical grade line includes Skin Renewal Polish, a botanical exfoliant combined with a mechanical micro exfoliant to help you achieve healthy and radiant skin!

Next, you can prepare to begin your nighttime skincare routine, where you will incorporate certain ingredients over four days. Most Tiktok videos suggest incorporating exfoliants on the first night and retinol on the second night, followed by two nights of recovery. Once you have completed the four nights, you would then begin the cycle all over again, repeating each day in order.

Dr. Sethi recommends skin cycling with a slight modification to the Tiktok routine. She prefers to split up the “active” nights (where retinol or exfoliant ingredients are incorporated) with recovery nights (also called “rest days,” where you would not use an “active” ingredient). This alteration gives the skin extra time to rest and still delivers all the active ingredients needed in the routine. Below you can see a schedule of what you would use each night.

  • Night 1: Active night – Use a cleanser, retinol, and moisturizer
  • Night 2: Recovery night – Use a cleanser and moisturizer
  • Night 3: Active night – Use a cleanser, exfoliant, and moisturizer
  • Night 4: Recovery night – Use a cleanser and moisturizer

Personalizing Your Skin Cycling

While skin cycling has become trendy and is a great practice to maintain and strengthen our skin barrier, one solution does not fit all. Luckily, people can easily make alterations to their skin cycling routines to suit their skin.

For example, people with acne-prone skin may find that skin cycling is too gentle for their skin. Whether their acne stems from oily or young skin, acne-prone skin often requires daily use of mild chemical exfoliants until their acne has calmed down. Skin cycling initially will not address active acne in many cases and may provide enough cleansing to prevent breakouts. But once their breakout frequency is corrected, they can skin cycle and incorporate rest days into their routine.

Perimenopausal women may also need adjustments to their skin cycling routines. Skin becomes drier as we age, and people with dry skin may need to adjust their skincare by incorporating an additional recovery day into their skin cycling. Seasons can also impact the skin, as winter tends to be colder and drier, and staying indoors in heating can also lead to dryness. As a result, people with dry skin in the winter should allow for an additional recovery night.

Skin cycling doesn’t have to be just a passing fad and can instead become a sustainable skincare practice if done properly. You may also adjust your routine to fit your skin, as your ideal routine will depend on your skin type. The first step in knowing the best skin cycling for you is to understand your skin type. You can do this by getting an objective, up-to-date analysis of your skin and using this understanding as the basis for your skincare.

Start today by using Skin Scan on skinbydrsethi.com, where a proprietary algorithm can analyze your skin at its deeper levels and provide you with a detailed skin analysis and recommendations on the types of products that will renew your skin and give you a natural glow!