Asian woman applying product while looking in a mirror.

Not every trend on TikTok is all hype. Some of them make perfect sense. Take skin cycling, for example. The cyclical approach to practicing skin care, this method resembles the age-old practice of skipping a product for a few days to avoid irritation – standard stuff. However, with innovations in ingredients and formulations, the actual process can be a bit more complex and requires an understanding of your skin and skin science. If you’re thinking of applying it to your beauty regimen, make sure to read this before you slather.

What Is Skin Cycling and Why Do You Need It?

You’ve probably heard of skin cycling before, especially if you have . A typical prescription from your dermatologist would include products and notes on when to use them (M-W-F, for example). They might tell you to “slowly introduce” a certain ingredient by using it only once a week and carry on with your usual routine on other days.

That’s exactly how skin cycling works. You cycle your products to avoid irritating your skin. While it is primarily for people with dermatitis, , and general sensitivity, anyone can enjoy its benefits. With all the beauty products available today (coupled with the ease of “adding to cart”), you’re most likely overdoing it in the skincare department. While a may be effective, you may not necessarily need it daily. The same goes for active ingredients that can be irritating to the skin.

Skin cycling addresses this and helps you get more out of . However, remember that it’s not a cure for severe conditions like or anything else that requires prescription medication.

Applying Skin Cycling to Your Beauty Regimen

Every skin cycling routine differs from person to person. It is essentially a skincare routine, but instead of daily, it’s spread out over four days. The most popular skin cycling schedule involves an exfoliation night, a retinoid night, a recovery night, and another recovery night. You repeat this weekly until you see results. With retinoids, that’s around six to 12 months.

Did you say retinoids?

One common question is if retinoids are necessary when skin cycling. The simple answer is yes because the entire concept is built around helping your skin tolerate this potent anti-aging, skin-regenerating ingredient. 

Choose a according to your skin type and start with a low-strength variant if it’s your first time. You can increase this gradually as your skin gets used to its effects – which skin cycling helps with by pacing products to prevent irritation.

An over-the-counter retinol like POND'S Age Miracle Anti-Aging Night Cream with 15X Retinol C and Niacinamide to Boost Collagen has a high concentration of Retinol-C Complex, which works 24 hours to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. On top of this, it has niacinamide, collagen, ceramides, prebiotics, and 4D hyaluronic acid to moisturize, plump, and restore the skin.

While the product is suitable for daily use, you can add it to your routine if your skin is reactive to retinol.

How to choose an exfoliant.

Meanwhile, you can go with your preferred exfoliant. For example, use a like if you have acne since it can penetrate deep within the pores to rid them of gunk and dead skin. For general exfoliation, try an AHA like a low-concentration , which is best for addressing , , and like fine lines and .

What to do on “rest” days.

The third and fourth nights of your skin cycling routine should focus on hydration and repair. Read: avoid exfoliating products on these days. Instead, go for ingredients like , which draws moisture to the skin, and nourishing creams with or to soothe and repair your . Repeat the cycle on night five.

Complement your skin cycling routine with an upgraded moisturizer like POND'S Bright Miracle Day Cream Normal. Aside from ceramides, this product also has niasorcinol to stimulate renewal and brighten your skin. Use it daily as the last part of your routine.

Ready for the Four-Day Skincare Week?

Break the cycle of skin irritation by practicing skin cycling. Doing this protects your skin and helps you make the most of your products while giving your routine structure. As with any regimen, patience and consistency are key. And if you experience any persistent irritation or adverse reaction, consult your doctor.