Skin Cycling for Clear Skin - Beach Beauty Bar and Acne Clinic

Skin Cycling for Clear Skin

Those of us who specialize in corrective skincare have been advising our clients to do a version of “skin cycling” using retinoids and other actives for years. Up until recently, someone gave it a cute name and now it’s a trend.

The concept of skin cycling applies to a nighttime skincare routine, which involves using active ingredients only on certain days, and following them with ‘rest’ days.

Do you want clear skin?

** We do not recommend skin cycling for people who are just beginning their acne-clearing journey. It would be a recommendation for those people who are using prescription topicals which are very active and the strengths are high.

A four-day cycle is the most popular, which typically comprises using active ingredients for two nights of the week, followed by two nights of rest—and repeating.

The idea is that adopting a skin cycling routine can help prevent the skin barrier from being compromised due to overuse of active ingredients – plus, it’s a great way to create a consistent and effective routine that helps the skin perform optimally.

What Are The Benefits of Skin Cycling?

Using actives like exfoliating acids and retinol once in a while likely won’t deliver noticeable results. However, on the flip side, overusing those same products will damage the skin barrier and cause more problems than it’s worth.

This is the delicate teeter-totter dance that skin cycling can bring balance to. People have begun to realize that using more products doesn’t always equate to better or healthier skin. This is a less-is-more approach that works and gives you a structured schedule that makes intuitive sense for your skincare.

Here Are 4 Reasons to Start Skin Cycling for Anti-Aging:

1)           Prevents over exfoliation

2)           Helps you get the MOST out of your active ingredient products

3)           Repairs your skin barrier over time

4)           Protects skin against seasonal skin issues (ie. dry skin)

The truth is, you only need a few products used in a very deliberate way to drive amazing results. If you want to start skin cycling but aren’t sure which products to use – schedule your virtual consultation & we will be delighted to help you get started on a regimen tailored for your individual needs.

Skin cycling is worth considering if you’re already using active ingredients in your routines.

How to Skin Cycle – A Step-By-Step Guide

Night One: Exfoliation

You want to cleanse your skin, pat dry, then put on an exfoliating product of your liking. It’s recommended that you use a leave-on product over something that’s wash-off. Seek out a chemical exfoliator, which contains ingredients like AHAs, BHAs, and PHAs, instead of physical scrubs because they’re better for the skin barrier and more effective. Chemical exfoliants like our Clarify Serum are perfect for this process.

End this step with a rich moisturizer to lock in your exfoliant.

Night Two: Retinoid

On day two, apply a retinoid after cleansing. If you’re new to retinoids and skin cycling in general, begin by applying a hydrating cream to the sensitive areas of the face (under the eyes, around the corners of the nose, and on the marionette lines)  to act as a buffer and prevent dryness and irritation. Then, apply your retinoid over the whole face, down the neck, and across the upper chest area. Our A Plus Refining Serum is our most sought-after retinoid because it packs a powerful punch.

End this step with a rich moisturizer to lock in your serum.

Nights Three and Four: Repair and Recovery

This is the step where you cleanse, leaving the skin damp, and then apply a serum that contains ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and/or niacinamide. Follow with a moisturizer. If you want to lock in your recovery serum and moisturizer, you can even go for the “slugging,” method. You can read more about how to slug your skin here.

If you’d like, the recovery nights are also when you can work in additional steps like sheet masks or hydrating serums that use gentle, moisture enhancing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, or petrolatum. For details on which products work best, schedule a consultation so we can assess your skins needs.

Is Skin Cycling Safe for All Skin Types?

If you have acne-prone skin or want to focus more on firming, you can level up. You can actually drop a recovery night and move to a three-night cycle. Some people tolerate multiple retinoid nights. But only do this as recommended by a skincare specialist.

It’s important to note that using retinoids nightly can be irritating to the skin for some, but on occasion, it may be well tolerated and beneficial for breakouts. 

For those with extra-sensitive skin, you can build in an extra recovery night if need be. It’s important to have a framework, but you can tweak it based on your skin’s needs and your skin goals.

The key is to customize your cycle to your skin concerns and your goals. Above all else—listen to your skin.

Start low, and go slow!

The Takeaway

At the end of the day, skin cycling serves as a beneficial blueprint for incorporating actives into your skin care routine in a safe and effective way. The method of cycling through actives and building in time for your skin to recover is a safe way to incorporate stronger, more effective products into your routine. If you have skin conditions like acne or eczema, it’s best to make an appointment for a consultation before starting skin cycling.

And remember: This process is designed to be customized, so listen to your skin. If you’re ready to put together your nightly routine from cleanser to toner to moisturizer—check out this guide. Knowing what ingredients will best suit you all depends on your specific skin type.

Cheers to Clear!


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