Skin Cycling: The Latest Skincare Trend

A beautiful woman asia using a skin care product, moisturizer or lotion and Skincare taking care of her dry complexion. Moisturizing cream in female hands

Key Points

  • Skin cycling, the hottest new trend on social media, is proven to rejuvenate the skin.

  • Cycling through skincare products throughout the week allows the skin to take a break from harsh ingredients.

  • The skin cycling community on TikTok and other social media platforms prefers the tried and true products listed below because they provide the best results.

Are you tired of using the same old skincare routine day in and day out? Are you ready to shake things up and try something new? If so, then you might be interested in the latest trend sweeping social media: skin cycling!

This skincare trend involves using a variety of different products and ingredients on a rotating basis to give your skin a boost and address a range of concerns. If you’re ready to infuse a much-needed refresh into your skincare routine, read on for more about what the exciting world of skin cycling can do for you.

What Exactly Is Skin Cycling?

Skin cycling is the practice of applying different skincare products on a periodic schedule to benefit the skin in ways a traditional skincare routine can’t.

Proponents of the trend, including dermatologists, say that using a variety of products provides the skin with a range of benefits as different ingredients can target separate skin concerns. For example, one night you use a vitamin C serum to brighten and even out your skin tone, while the next you use a retinol serum to combat acne and fine lines.

It’s like a buffet for your skin — and everyone loves a good buffet. Instead of sticking to the same old routine day after day, mixing and matching different skincare goodies helps you determine what works best for your unique skin. Dig in and give your skin the royal treatment it deserves!

Where It All Began

While the term “skin cycling” is new, the concept of switching up different products on certain days has been part of the world of dermatology for years. The person who coined the term on Tiktok is New York-based dermatologist Whitney Bowe.

The trend gained popularity after Bowe posted this video. TikTok users, particularly those in the beauty and skincare community, shared their experiences with skin cycling and the results they achieved. These posts often included before-and-after photos or videos showcasing the changes in their skin after using a variety of different products and ingredients. Many users found the trend to be a useful source of inspiration and began incorporating elements of skin cycling into their own skincare routines.

Skin cycling has also been popularized by celebrities and influencers who have shared their own experiences on TikTok and other social media platforms. This has further spread awareness and contributed to its popularity online.

Woman applies cream to face cheeks

Benefits of Skin Cycling

The skin cycling trend has many benefits for the skin, hence its popularity! From keeping your skin hydrated to helping even your skin tone, here are the benefits of the popular skincare method.

Variety of Products Provides a Range of Benefits

Different skincare ingredients attack certain skin concerns, so using a variety of products on a rotating basis allows the skin to receive a range of benefits. For example, using a vitamin B3 serum one night locks in moisture and hydration, while using retinol the next night fights off acne and reduces the appearance of fine lines.

Prevents Skin From Becoming Accustomed to Particular Ingredient

Using the same skincare product or ingredient for an extended period sometimes leads to the skin becoming accustomed to it, reducing its effectiveness. Skin cycling prevents this by regularly introducing new ingredients and products.

Useful for Sensitive Skin

Those with sensitive skin may be more prone to irritation when using the same product or ingredient day after day. The variation built into the skin cycling method prevents you from overusing an irritating product.

The Skin Cycling Schedule

How do you effectively implement a skin cycling regimen? Here’s a night-by-night how-to:

Night One: Exfoliation

On the first night, wash your face with a cleanser and pat dry, then exfoliate. Exfoliating is important because it removes the dead skin cells from the surface layer of your skin.

There’s a reason why exfoliating should occur on the first night. “Your other products will perform more effectively because they are able to penetrate more deeply into the skin in a controlled, predictable way,” Dr. Bowe told Everyday Health.

After you finish exfoliating, add a moisturizer to keep the skin hydrated. Another tip: Chemical exfoliants might be a better choice than physical scrubs as they are much gentler on the surface of the skin.

Night Two: Retinoids

The second night focuses on retinoids: vitamin A derivatives that reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. These include prescription medications, like tretinoin, and gentler, over-the-counter products, like retinol.

“Retinoids are one of the powerful ingredients to include in your skin cycling routine,” Bowe says in Everyday Health.

Before applying your retinoid serum, be sure to cleanse and pat dry. After applying, moisturize to bring back any hydration that may have been lost during your routine.

Nights Three and Four: Cleansing and Moisturizing

The third and fourth nights are typically recovery periods when you take a break from exfoliating and retinoids. On these nights, focus on cleansing and moisturizing the skin.

“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,” Dr. Bowe explains.

Repeat the Process

After the recovery nights, repeat the process with an exfoliating night followed by a retinol night. Keep repeating the process and chances are you’ll notice better results compared to when you did the entire routine every night.

Woman applies face mask as part of skin cycling routine

Skin Cycling Products

Finding products can be difficult, especially if you’re trying a new skincare trend. Here are some great products that will help you prepare for the skin cycling craze.


Finding the right cleanser is an important first step. A good cleanser removes impurities and excess oil from the skin, leaving it feeling clean and refreshed. Below are products favored by influencers and those in the skin cycling community.

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

This gentle, non-irritating cleanser is excellent for all skin types including sensitive skin. It removes dirt, oil, and makeup without stripping the skin of its natural oils. Many turn to Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser because it’s reliable and cleans the skin without irritating or drying it out.

Neutrogena Oil-Free Acne Wash

This cleanser is formulated with salicylic acid to clear up acne and prevent new breakouts from forming. It’s oil-free and non-comedogenic, making it satisfactory for those with oily or acne-prone skin.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser

This gentle, fragrance-free cleanser is a great option for sensitive skin and removes impurities while hydrating and nourishing.

Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water

This popular micellar water works wonders for all skin types. It’s preferred for its convenience as it can be used as a makeup remover and cleanser in one.

Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser

This gentle, soap-free cleanser cleans and refreshes your skin. It’s one of the more favored choices for TikTokers thanks to how regenerated it makes the skin feel.

Alpha-H Balancing Cleanser

Alpha-H’s cleanser balances the skin’s pH and gently removes impurities, excess oil, and makeup. It contains a blend of botanical extracts and oils, including chamomile, calendula, and jojoba, to soothe and nourish the skin. This product is free of sulfates, artificial fragrances, and colors. Those in the skin cycling community love this product for its natural ingredients.


It’s no secret that moisturizing is an essential part of any skincare routine, let alone skin cycling. Consistently hydrating your skin keeps you looking and feeling radiant. Below are moisturizers that skin cyclers can’t get enough of.

La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer

The La Roche-Posey Toleraine Double Repair Face Moisturizer is a fan favorite due to its prebiotic thermal water and ceramides. These ingredients strengthen the skin’s barrier and provide long-lasting hydration. It works great for all skin types, including sensitive skin, and is free of fragrance and parabens.

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel

This water-based gel moisturizer contains hyaluronic acid which works to attract and retain moisture in the skin. Many skin cyclers love this lightweight and non-greasy product as it makes a great option for oily or combination skin.

Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream

This moisturizer contains amino peptides and niacinamide, which improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and provide intense hydration. It’s a great choice for all skin types and is free of fragrance.

Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream

This rich, non-greasy cream is formulated with petrolatum and glycerin to provide long-lasting hydration to dry, sensitive skin. It’s fragrance-free and non-comedogenic, making it suitable for use on the face and body. Skin cyclers turn to this product for its versatility.

Bioderma Hydrabio Moisturizing Cream

This cream is formulated with glycerin and aquagenium — a trademarked technology that stimulates your skin’s natural hydration processes and provides long-lasting hydration.

Laneige Water Bank Blue Hyaluronic Cream Moisturizer

This moisturizing cream is designed to provide intense hydration to the skin. It contains a blend of hyaluronic acid and ceramides, which are lipids that strengthen the skin’s natural barrier.

This cream is suitable for all skin types but particularly beneficial for dry skin. It is formulated to improve fine lines and wrinkles while smoothing, softening, and hydrating the skin. Influencers love this product for its ultra-hydration qualities.

Woman applies exfoliation to face as part of skin cycling


Exfoliating the skin plays a huge role in the skin cycling trend. Below are some of the top products used by skin cyclers to achieve radiant skin.

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant

This exfoliant contains salicylic acid which loosens and removes dead skin cells from the surface of the skin. All skin types, including acne-prone skin and sensitive skin, can see improvements with this product. It exfoliates without irritating the skin and leaves you looking rejuvenated.

Neutrogena Bright Boost Resurfacing Micro Polish

This exfoliator is formulated with glycolic acid and physical exfoliants. This fragrance and paraben-free product is an excellent choice for all skin types and is favored for its smoothing and brightening qualities.

The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution

This toning solution also contains glycolic acid, which exfoliates the skin. Skin cyclers who want to improve uneven skin tone and texture often turn to this product. It performs best when used in the evening or right before bed.

Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant

This rice-based exfoliator contains salicylic acid and papain, a proteolytic enzyme derived from the papaya fruit. It is often used in skincare products because of its ability to break down proteins, thereby softening and exfoliating the skin.

It is also believed to have anti-inflammatory properties, which may be beneficial for reducing redness and swelling in the skin. TikTokers who want to improve their redness tend to favor this exfoliator.

Fresh Sugar Face Polish

This popular exfoliating facial scrub is formulated with finely ground sugar crystals and natural oils to gently buff away dead skin cells and unclog pores, leaving the skin feeling soft, smooth, and radiant.

It also contains a blend of nourishing ingredients such as grapeseed oil, jojoba oil, and avocado oil, which hydrate and protect the skin. The product is suitable for all skin types and can be used two to three times per week.


Retinol is a form of vitamin A commonly used in skincare products to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, uneven skin tone, and acne. Below are five great retinol serums that are popular in the online skin cycling movement.

Paula’s Choice Retinol 0.5 Refining Night Serum

This serum contains 0.5% retinol and is formulated with antioxidants and skin-soothing agents to reduce irritation and improve the appearance of the skin.

Olay Regenerist Retinol 24-Night Moisturizer

This moisturizer provides awesome results for all skin types. It’s designed with niacinamide and peptides to improve fine lines and wrinkles and provide intense hydration. Olay products like the Regenerist Retinol 24 Night Moisturizer are popular for skin cyclers because of the brand’s effective yet affordable options.

The Ordinary Retinol 0.2% in Squalane

This serum is made with 0.2% retinol. It contains squalane, a lightweight oil that is easily absorbed by the skin and derived from human sebum (the oil produced by the skin). Squalane is a popular ingredient in the skin cycling community.

RoC Retinol Correxion Deep Wrinkle Serum

This serum is designed with hyaluronic acid to combat fine lines and wrinkles. Products with hyaluronic acid are popular in the skin cycling community because it provides intense hydration.

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Oil

The Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Retinol Oil is formulated with a blend of retinol and antioxidants to flush the skin of toxins as well as keep it hydrated. The Neutrogena brand is ever present on the favorites list of many skin cycling influencers.

Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream

This cream contains a high concentration of retinol. It’s known to stimulate collagen production, improve skin texture, and reduce the appearance of pores. Many TikTokers turn to this product because it combats the dryness and flakiness that other retinol serums may cause.

Woman dries her face after washing

Skin Cycling Products for Mature Skin

Do you want to try the skin cycling trend but are concerned about how it might affect your mature skin? No worries! Read on to learn more about the best and most popular anti-aging skin cycling products for mature skin.

Anti-Aging Cleansers

Cleansing is super important, and the older you get the more essential it becomes. Listed below are popular cleansers that work great on maturing skin to improve the appearance of aging.

Olay Regenerist Advanced Anti-Aging Pore Scrub Cleanser

This cleanser contains micro-scrubbing beads that gently exfoliate the skin and remove impurities. The beads are full of antioxidants and vitamin B3 to refine lines and wrinkles. This product is often featured in skin cycling posts due to its gentle yet effective ingredients.

Kiehl’s Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate Cleanser

This cleanser contains 10.5% vitamin C, which improves the appearance of fine lines and uneven skin tone. Many influencers turn to this product for its use of glycolic acid, which gently exfoliates and refines the skin’s texture.

Dermalogica Age Smart Super Rich Repair

This rich, creamy cleanser contains nourishing ingredients like shea butter and evening primrose oil to moisturize and protect dry, mature skin. It’s also made with a blend of antioxidants to protect against environmental stressors. The natural ingredients make this product a skin cycler favorite.

Cetaphil Pro Dermacontrol Purifying Clay Mask and Cleanser

This clay mask and cleanser contains kaolin and bentonite clays to help absorb excess oil and impurities, as well as glycerin to moisturize and soothe the skin. It is formulated for oily, acne-prone skin, but can also be beneficial for aging skin. Not only is this a favorite in the skin cycling community, but it’s also loved by those with mature skin!

Cleansing water washes over face of woman

Anti-Aging Moisturizer

Moisturizing is one of the most essential aspects of any skincare routine, especially if you’re working with mature skin. Skin cycling is known for its anti-aging results, so check out the tried and true products below.

Kiehl’s Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate

This lightweight, fast-absorbing serum contains 12.5% vitamin C to improve the appearance of fine lines and uneven skin tone. It contains copper peptides to support the production of collagen and elastin.

Cetaphil Pro Dermacontrol Oil Absorbing Moisturizer SPF 30

This lightweight, oil-free moisturizer contains a mixture of absorbent micro-particles and glycerin to control shine and moisturize the skin. It also has broad-spectrum SPF 30 to protect the skin from damaging UV rays.

Anti-Aging Exfoliators

Exfoliating is a key part of skin cycling and any anti-aging skin routine. Below are popular products for mature skin that exfoliate while still acting gently.

Skinceuticals Micro-Exfoliating Scrub

This physical exfoliator uses fine granules to slough off dead skin cells and improves the texture of the skin. It is formulated with a combination of physical and chemical exfoliants, including glycolic and salicylic acids, to unclog pores and fix the appearance of hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone.

Tatcha The Rice Polish Foaming Enzyme Powder

This facial exfoliator is designed to gently remove dead skin cells and impurities from the surface of the skin. It is formulated with Japanese rice bran, papaya enzymes, and salicylic acid and works to brighten and smooth the skin.

To use the product, simply mix a small amount of the powder with water in the palm of your hand to create a foaming lather. Then apply the lather to your face in a circular motion, massaging it into the skin for about one minute before rinsing it off with lukewarm water.

Many consumers with mature skin report that it improves the texture and tone of their skin.

Kate Somerville ExfoliKate

ExfoliKate is a popular exfoliating treatment that contains a blend of enzymes and physical exfoliants, such as beads and granules, to effectively remove dead skin cells and reveal a smoother, more radiant complexion. It is excellent for all skin types including aging skin and is loved for its vibrant results.

ACURE Brightening Facial Scrub

ACURE Brightening Facial Scrub is a facial exfoliator designed to improve impurities that contribute to a dull, uneven skin tone. This exfoliator contains a combination of natural ingredients, including sea kelp, chlorella, and argan oil, which work together to nourish and hydrate while brightening and evening out the skin tone. This product works wonders on mature skin and is popular online due to its natural ingredients.

Woman extracts drop of retinoid from vile

Anti-Aging Retinol

As you’ve learned, retinol plays a major role in the skin cycling routine. Some serums may be too harsh on mature skin. There are, however, many great anti-aging retinol products that treat aging skin gently and effectively.

The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Squalane

This serum contains a high concentration of retinol and is suitable for use on a variety of skin types including mature skin.

Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment

Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment is known for its ability to improve the texture and tone of the skin and may reduce the appearance of acne and other blemishes. It is intended for use on mature or damaged skin and is featured in some of the most viewed skin cycling videos online.

Peter Thomas Roth Retinol Fusion PM Night Serum

This popular serum on TikTok contains ingredients that nourish and hydrate the skin, such as vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, and ceramides.

The INKEY List Retinol Serum

This product stimulates collagen production, improves skin texture, and combats acne and scars. It’s an excellent choice if you want to try the skin cycling trend with an anti-aging twist.

CeraVe Resurfacing Retinol Serum

CeraVe’s gentle serum is a popular product for those with aging skin. It reduces the appearance of acne and other blemishes and contains ceramides to maintain the skin’s barrier function which keeps it hydrated and healthy.

Potential Side Effects and Risks of Skin Cycling

Skin cycling prevents the potential side effects of ingredients like exfoliants and retinoids. Having rest days gives your skin a chance to repair itself, but there may be some risks if you’re new to using retinoids.

When you first start using retinol serums, dryness, irritation, and inflammation are common. Retinol may also make you more susceptible to sunburns. These side effects will slowly go away as your skin adjusts to the serums.

For those with sensitive skin, Dr. Bowe suggests using a moisturizer first to protect the skin against the potential effect of retinoids, especially in sensitive areas like the neck, around the eyes and mouth, and the corners of the nose.

Once your skin gets used to the retinoid, it’s good practice to reverse the order and apply the retinol serum first and then the moisturizer.

How Long Until You See Results?

It doesn’t take long to see results after you start skin cycling. Many influencers and celebrities who swear by the skincare trend say it typically takes about two cycles, which is pretty quick! In that case, you may see improvements in your skin in under two weeks. Be patient: Everyone’s process is different.

Give Skin Cycling a Try!

Skin cycling is all over the internet for a reason: It provides great results. By cycling through different products each day, you won’t feel like you’re overworking your skin. Skin cycling is an effective way to address specific skin concerns, such as dryness, acne, or aging, and to maintain healthy, radiant skin. Give it a try!

Was this article helpful?

Zeen is a next generation WordPress theme. It’s powerful, beautifully designed and comes with everything you need to engage your visitors and increase conversions.