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Home/Blog/Skin Cycling Routine: Steps to Take and What Products to Use

Skin Cycling Routine: Steps to Take and What Products to Use

By Jill Levy

February 11, 2023

Skin cycling routine

Each of us has a unique skin type with slightly different needs, meaning that some skin care products and methods are more suitable for some of us than others. What's more: Different parts of our face and our bodies require different treatments in order to stay in balance. Plus, overusing or underusing certain skin care ingredients can lead to poor results.

As you can see, skin care can be complex. Here’s where “skin cycling” comes into play. If you’ve been using the same skin care products over and over for a long period of time, you might notice that you’re not getting the same benefits you received when you first started.  This may be attributed to overuse, which skin cycling seeks to avoid.

Another benefit of skin cycling? It helps you use more products throughout the week, which may lead to greater improvements.

We’re here to help give some insight about cycling your daily skincare routine, including what are the benefits of skin cycling, how does it work, and which products should be used when skin cycling?

Of course, you should always consult with your healthcare professional prior to beginning any new dietary or lifestyle routine, including skin cycling or the use of any health products. 

What Is Skin Cycling?

Skin cycling refers to the process of rotating and alternating the use of different skincare products. 

TikTok videos featuring skin cycling routines might be all the rage. But does skin cycling really work? According to many dermatologists, yes, it does.

Because each type of product, such as cleansers, exfoliators and serums, works a bit differently, you can get multiple benefits and avoid side effects when you incorporate various types into your routine.

Here’s the main idea behind skin cycling: Overuse of certain products may cause the skin to become overly dry, oily or have other effects. However, if you cycle the products you use, you’re less likely to experience those. 

Additionally, applying a variety of active ingredients to your skin throughout the week can help address the skin on multiple levels, such as helping to improve your skin’s texture, tone, barrier and appearance. 

Benefits

What is skin cycling most beneficial for? The goal of skin cycling is to keep the skin balanced and in a healthy overall state. It helps to promote the normal rejuvenation of skin cells (or skin cell turnover), cleanses the skin, helps to improve the skin’s appearance and keeps the skin adequately moisturized. 

Benefits of skin cycling can include:

  • Hydrating skin without it becoming oily

  • Promoting evenly toned, healthy skin, including those with sensitive skin

  • Keeping skin microbially balanced

  • Fighting outward signs of normal aging, such as dark spots under the eyes, fine lines, crepey skin and wrinkles

  • Promoting or improving the health of your skin barrier

Skin Cycling Routine

What products should you use when skin cycling?

You want to continue alternating between different types of cleansers, serums, moisturizers and exfoliants. You can also use different products for specific needs, such as a heavier moisturizer in the winter to help combat the cold, dry air’s effect on skin or brightening serums with vitamin C. Ultimately, you and your healthcare professional will want to choose products based on your specific skin type and goals.

Products to consider adding to your skin cycling regime include:

  • Foam-based cleansers and oil-based cleansers (also called cleansing balms)

  • Chemical exfoliants (such as alpha hydroxy acids or beta hydroxy acids) and physical exfoliants (such as scrubs or microdermabrasion)

  • Serums including vitamin C, niacinamide, peptides and retinol, which are used to help brighten skin and provide healthy aging benefits

  • Lighter-weight gel moisturizers, such as one with hyaluronic acid, and heavier moisturizers with glycerin and ceramides

How do you start skin cycling?

The exact routine you should follow will depend on your skin type. Below are general tips to follow:

  • Use more than one type of cleanser.

  • Alternate serums for different skin types and varied benefits.

  • Adjust your moisturizer depending on the season and your skin type. 

  • Don’t over-exfoliate, sticking to at most every other day.

  • Go easy on strong products like retinol, applying them every other night.

  • Wear sunscreen daily to help guard against sun damage. Sunblock should be the last step in your routine.

Here’s an example of a basic skin cycling routine:

  • Mornings: Cleanse with a gentle, non-stripping cleanser, followed by a light serum with antioxidants, such as one with vitamin C to help fight free radicals and environmental stressors. You can switch up the type of serum you use every other day. Finish with a moisturizer to hydrate the skin and provide a healthy barrier. Choose a light moisturizer if your skin is oily, or a thicker one if you’re dry. Apply sunblock over moisturizer.

  • Evening: Double cleanse with an oil-based cleanser followed by a water-based cleanser to remove dirt, oil and makeup. Every other day, apply alpha-hydroxy acid to exfoliate, help with normal cell turnover, and improve texture and tone. Apply retinol either every night or every other night. Then finish with a heavier moisturizer to nourish the skin.

  • Weekly: Every several days, incorporate a physical or chemical exfoliant into your routine, such as a scrub or glycolic acid, to help remove dead skin cells. Facial masks, such as those made with clay that help clear pores, can also be used every several days or once per week.

Other Common Questions

How long should you skin cycle for?

You can continue skin cycling as long as you’d like. It’s a smart way to approach your skin care on an ongoing basis, especially as you naturally age and your skin needs change. You should also consider alternating products depending on the season, such as increasing sun protection, exfoliants and serums in the summer and increasing moisturizers in the winter.

How often should you do skin cycling?

Most people do skin cycling throughout the week, such as by alternating products every other day or night. You can also add in certain products only 1–3 times per week, such as facial masks or chemical or physical exfoliants.

For example, you might do a “4 day skin cycle” (a popular method of skin cycling) in which you use products two days in a row, then break for two days, and repeat. You might also exfoliate with a scrub and apply a mask every four days or so.

Another general guideline for skin cycling is to switch up products every 4–6 weeks. This allows enough time for the active ingredients to penetrate and show results while also guarding the skin from becoming too accustomed to a particular product.

What are the side effects of skin cycling?

If you have sensitive skin, you may need to monitor your skin more closely as you skin cycle. However, you’re less likely to develop side effects if you don’t overuse products and switch up your routine. (Note: You should always read and follow label directions for any product use.)

It’s important to listen to your skin and adjust the frequency of skin cycling as needed. If you notice your skin responding poorly to a particular product, take a break from using it and try something else. You can also speak with a dermatologist or skincare professional for personalized recommendations.

Can you add supplements to your skin care cycling routine?

Definitely. Certain supplements, such as collagen protein, biotin and those with antioxidants, can help support general skin health. For keeping your skin healthy, here are some Ancient Nutrition products, which can be taken daily (or every other day if you prefer), according to label directions for use:

  • Multi Collagen Protein Beauty Within: Our Multi Collagen Protein products are made with a proprietary, human clinically studied fermented eggshell membrane collagen that’s been shown to improve the appearance of crow's feet (fine lines around the eyes) after four weeks of use. MCP can also help improve the appearance of skin tone after eight weeks of use. This formula is specifically geared towards those looking for help support healthy skin elasticity and a generally healthy appearance. Multi Collagen Protein formulas feature 10 types of collagen — including type 1, which is a great collagen for skin — plus some even feature antioxidant-rich botanicals that support skin’s resilience and overall health. 

  • Ancient Nutrition’s chicken-based Bone Broth Proteins: Our Bone Broth Proteins, which are filled with collagen and cofactors that help promote healthy connective tissues, have been shown to cause a significant decrease in the appearance of skin wrinkles after eight weeks of use. 

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