The Edit

What is Skin Cycling?

Posted on Friday, 27 January 2023 - By Gemma

What is Skin Cycling?
While "Skin Cycling" (a phrase coined by Whitney Bowe, MD, a New York City–based board-certified dermatologist) may be a new term to us, the concept of alternating active ingredients in your skincare has been around forever.

Skin cycling is a night-time skin-care routine that incorporates “rest days” during the week- just like a workout routine! This way, your skin can repair and relax after using more high strength products. This can help prevent irritation and inflammation.
What you need

To get started with skin cycling, you’ll need:

  1. An exfoliator: think Medik8 Press & Glow, Boost Lab AHA Resurfacing Glow Serum, or The Ordinary Lactic Acid.
  2. A retinoid/Vitamin A product. Think Medik8 Crystal Retinal, Bondi Sands Fountain of Youth, or Antipodes Credo Probiotic Ferment Revitalize Serum.
  3. A moisturizer. Use whatever you love, but here's a few of our favs. Weleda Skin Food, Medik8 Ultimate Recovery, or The Bonbon Factory Daily Dollop.

The Routine

Once you've got your triple threat of products all sorted, it's time to work out your cycle. According to Whitney:

“The classic skin cycling regimen is a four-night cycle — the first is the exfoliation night, the second is a retinoid night, and the third and fourth are recovery nights, then you repeat the cycle,”


Night 1: Exfoliation

“You want to cleanse [the skin], pat dry, then put on an exfoliating product,” explains Dr Bowes.

A leave on treatment or serum containing AHA, BHA or PHA's are preferred over a physical exfoliant, as physical exfoliation products can be too harsh for what we're wanting to achieve.

Shop exfoliating products

Night 2: Retinoid
Day two is our retinoid night. “Retinoids are one of the most powerful ingredients to include in your skin cycling routine,” Dr. Bowe says.

Retinoids help speed up skin cell turnover, but aren't for everyone.

If you're finding Retinoid's to be a little harsh - check out some Bakuchiol based products instead. Bakuchol is also vegan so makes a great alternative.

Shop Retinoids / Vitamin A

Nights 3 & 4: Recovery

“On recovery nights, you hold off on the exfoliating acids and retinoids and give your skin a chance to recover,” says Bowe. “You’ll want to focus on nourishing your skin microbiome and repairing your skin barrier, so think: hydration and moisture, and avoid any irritating ingredients.”

We're all about the hydration for night 3 & 4 so additional hydration products have the green light, but lay off the heavy duty products for these nights.

Shop Night Moisturisers

After your rest nights we go back to Night 1 and repeat the process.

So, what have we learned? Skin Cycling is great for those with a more sensitive skin type, prone to inflammation, those wanting an easy to follow routine, or those just wanting to get the most out of their skincare.

Ok bye!

About the Author

Beauty Bliss Member


Gemma is a qualified Makeup Artist. She packs most of your online orders, buys in new stock, and answers your pressing beauty questions via our Live Chat.