Again, you’ll want to cleanse your face first and then make sure it’s 100% dry, not even a little wet, before applying the retinoid, says Dr. Bowe. (Damp skin stimulates retinoid penetration, which could potentially lead to more irritation for some people.) A pea-sized amount of product for your entire face is sufficient.
If you’ve never used a retinoid before, first apply a light layer of a simple moisturizer to sensitive areas (under the eyes, around the corners of the mouth, at the base of the nostrils and on the neck). Then apply your retinoid and finish with another layer of moisturizer on top. This “sandwich” technique creates a protective buffer to help reduce things like flaking and dryness as your skin builds up some tolerance. (Trust the process and be consistent, side effects should stabilize over time.)
Nights 3 and 4
Alright, your skin has been working hard. Now you should relax in recovery nights. You can simply cleanse your face and apply moisturizing serums or moisturizers that do not contain active ingredients like those mentioned above, and that’s it! Look for fragrance-free products that contain skin-repairing supplements like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and ceramides. In this case, it’s okay if your skin is a little wet because you want to lock that water in. “Hold back the exfoliating acids and retinoids and give your skin a chance to recover,” says Dr. Bowe.
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What are the benefits of the skin cycle?
Skin cycling can be very effective as it gives your face a chance to heal between treatments. “Exfoliating serums and retinoids are powerful and very effective products that I use in my skincare routine and recommend to my patients,” says Dr. Bowe. “However, they can be very irritating to many people if used too frequently.” Essentially, applying too often can lead to sensitive, tight, or dry skin, she explains; people with darker skin, in particular, have a higher risk of hyperpigmentation when using these products excessively.
So the skin cycle can help you reap the benefits of these (often expensive) products with a lower risk of bothersome side effects. “When it comes to skin care, less is more,” Joshua Zeichner, MD, associate professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York and co-founder of JORI Skincare, tells SELF. You can think of your skincare routine almost like your fitness routine. “It sounds like the idea of working different muscle groups in your weekly gym session,” says Dr. Zeichner. “Giving your skin ‘days on’ and ‘days off’ allows for improvements without causing the potential irritation or damage to the skin barrier that you might experience from overdoing your daily routine. »
Also note: you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to start the skin cycle, and it’s generally safe, even for those of us with trust issues from too many serums. caused significant damage. “It’s an easy-to-use routine, and it’s especially useful for people who are sensitive and intolerant of [ingredients] every day,” says Dr. Zeichner.
Are there any potential downsides to the skin cycle?
Anyone can try the skin cycle, but your routine may need to be adapted to your personal needs over time, says Dr. Bowe. “The beauty of the skin cycle is that you can adjust your cycling program to meet your skin where it is,” she explains. “If you experience tenderness and irritation, you can increase your recovery nights. If you’re seasoned and well-adjusted to your retinoid and want to tune in, you can skip a recovery night for a three-night cycle. Basically, it’s crucial to listen to your skin. If it’s inflamed, rough, and itchy, it’s probably time to take a break and get back to basics: gentle cleanser, moisturizer, and SPF. (Please don’t forget your sunscreen in the morning. This helps protect your skin from further damage as your exfoliants and retinoids do their job.)
People with certain skin conditions, including severe acne, rosacea, eczema, or psoriasis, and people who use prescription medications for their skin should always consult their dermatologist before trying a new routine. Your doctor will be able to customize the skin cycle pattern based on your skin tone, says Dr. Bowe.
Even if you don’t have any known persistent skin issues, it’s always worth seeing a dermatologist, if you can, if something goes wrong when you start skin cycling, says Dr. Bowe. For example, some people with oily skin may need a stronger exfoliator the first night, and your dermatologist should be able to help and recommend a solid product. Fortunately, there is almost always a workaround. “Sensitive skin can be a diva,” says Dr. Bowe, but “it tends to respond incredibly well to our classic four-night routine.”