The expert’s guide to skin cycling
Conceptualized by New York-based dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe, skin cycling is a four-night practice that involves using active ingredients on certain days with rest periods in-between to get the most out of your skincare. ‘By slowly adding active ingredients to your skincare regimen, you’ll improve the ingredients’ efficacy and skin’s tolerability by allowing ample time for skin to recover between uses,’ explains FARFETCH Beauty Collective member Dr. Michelle Henry. Here’s her expert guide to getting it just right.
Night one: exfoliate
To start the cycle, Dr. Henry advises using ‘alpha-hydroxy acids like lactic, mandelic and glycolic acid to help increase exfoliation and skin turnover.’ Opt for formulations that resurface the skin without leaving it feeling stripped, like the Alpha-H Liquid Gold Exfoliating Treatment toner, which contains 5% glycolic acid and the humectant glycerin.
Night two: add retinoids
The next evening is all about retinol — the powerful antioxidant proven to fade melasma, reverse cell damage, refine texture and much more. Reach for creams and serums — ‘they’re more likely to have humectant ingredients and moisturizing factors that will help your skin’s tolerability,’ explains Dr. Henry.
If you’re not ready to add a retinol to your routine, simply swap in an alternative treatment on night two that targets one of your skincare concerns. According to Dr. Henry, vitamin C improves hyperpigmentation and dark spots, bakuchiol can refine skin texture and peptides have been proven to make skin appear firmer and plumper.
Nights three and four: recovery
Your next step is to replenish the skin with ‘gentle, hydrating products formulated with ingredients like ceramides, glycerin, niacinamide and hyaluronic acid,’ says Dr. Henry. Nourishing the skin with a serum and night cream allows you to restart the cycle while minimizing the chances of night one and two causing purging and irritation.