Skin Cycling – Everything you need to know about the TikTok trend

Skintellectuals – ELLE’s panel of professionals provide insight into the latest skincare trends, techniques and ingredients.


With so many viral new skincare routines trending on TikTok (wetness sandwich? Good! Reverse skincare? Not so much…), it’s natural to be cynical about a another trend. But skin cyclewith over 124 million views on TikTok and counting, sees dermatologists and estheticians supporting the logic behind the trend.

But what is it? Simply put, the Skin Cycle is basically a four-day skincare “cycle” where an acid is introduced on the first night, retinol on the second, and gentle ingredients that give your skin a rest on the third and fourth. days. TikTokers claim to notice clearer, more radiant skin through regular exfoliation without the irritation or redness that often accompanies excessive use of actives.

But is it legit? We turned to the Skintellectuals to find out…

Skintellectual #1: Dr. Mary Sommerlad, Consultant Dermatologist

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“The skin cycle is a clever way to introduce two highly active ingredients: liquid exfoliants, such as salicylic acid or AHAs, and retinoids into your evening skincare routine without disrupting the skin barrier. disturbed skin will lead to irritation and pigmentation problems.It should be noted that AHAs and retinoids box complement each other, but when used in combination they can also be irritating.

“The skin cycle separates the two while introducing a rest day from assets. As a consultant dermatologist, I have for many years recommended alternating active ingredients, including prescription topical treatments, to prevent irritation. The original concept of the Skin Cycle was an effective nighttime routine which I believe is the best time to focus on repairing the skin barrier and fixing any skin issues.

“It’s something I do myself. I exfoliate once a week and use my retinoid the rest of the time. On the days I use retinoids, I first apply Vichy Mineral 89 (a hyaluronic acid serum) to protect my skin barrier, followed by my retinoids.

“My big tips are to use evidence-based liquid exfoliants and retinoids known for their clinical effectiveness and consistency.” It can take several weeks to see improvements in your skin once you start a routine.

The verdict:

“Skin cycling as a general evening routine guide works. But, I would avoid introducing additional actives into the routine and recommend adjusting your skincare regimen if you are prone to blemishes or have very dry or sensitive skin.

“If you’re prone to blemishes, you’ll likely benefit from using a prescription retinoid every night and liquid exfoliant in the morning instead.” If you have sensitive skin, you may prefer to avoid liquid exfoliation altogether. If you’re having issues with your skin and it’s not responding to over-the-counter products, it’s time to talk to a dermatologist.

Skintellectual n°2: Medina Azaldin, ELLE senior beauty assistant

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“AHAs, BHAs and retinoids are scientifically proven ingredients, but it can be confusing to know where it all fits into a routine. Add in a reactive, acne-prone complexion like mine, and it’s even easier to wreak havoc.

“Then comes the skin cycle, and I think that’s helpful in helping you establish an effective routine because it’s clearly stated to use an acid the first night, retinoids the second night, and no exfoliating or harsh ingredients on them. last two evenings. But, as Dr Sommerlad mentions, it’s important to listen to your own skin and understand that there really isn’t a one-size-fits-all rule of thumb when it comes to skincare (except SPF – I’ll live and die by that one).

“Since I have active breakouts and my skin is fragile, I have been skin cycling for seven days instead of four. I’ll stick to a salicylic acid-infused cleanser and a lightweight yet barrier-supporting moisturizer for the next five nights to keep any inflammation at bay.

The verdict:

“My acne is still very thriving (yay) because nothing over the counter will be as effective as a prescription treatment (at least for my skin). But, my overall complexion is comfortable, calm and my active acne is not showing like aggravated or red.Any skincare philosophy that doesn’t require excessive products or an overload of potent ingredients is a winner in my book.

Skintellectual 3: Colette Haydon, founder of Lixirskin

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“We built Lixirskin on the skin cycle philosophy, except we call it ‘skin change’, which means you use a specific ingredient for a longer period of time, rather than four days. For example, if you use our Night Switch PHA/AHA for renewal and glow, you use it for two weeks, then you stop for a week to allow your skin to rest before starting retinol for another four weeks.

“When we run or use our brain, we know we have limited energy, but when it comes to our skin, we think it has unlimited energy. Which is not the case ! So, I realized that if we bombard the skin with too many actives that go in different directions – we call them metabolic pathways – it’s like asking the skin to run like a headless chicken. The skin change allows the skin to focus on one thing at a time and not waste its energy. It is also important to understand the power of doing nothing. During the rest period, we recommend using the Universal Emulsion and no active ingredients.

The verdict:

‘Don’t use all your assets all the time or all at once. The skin needs to rest and regenerate. Use your acids daily for two weeks, rest for one week, and retinol for four weeks (all at night). It’s a twist on the skin cycle; it is a longer cycle which is more relevant for the metabolism of the skin. This works especially well for someone with sensitive skin because there is only one active ingredient at a time and you don’t layer too much. There is less product waste and it is more profitable.