Does “skin cycling” really work?

For years, the beauty market has exploded with hundreds of different skin care products touted as “must-haves” for aging skin—Kim Kardashian’s recent skin care line is a nine-step process that retails for $630. And now a brand new beauty routine is making the rounds on TikTok: skin cycle. Dermatologist Whitney Bowe, creator of the new Skin Cycle trend, uses her platform to advocate for doing less to get better-looking skin.

Skin cycling is a four-day regimen. The first night, after you wash your face, you apply a physical or chemical exfoliant to slough off the dead skin cells on the top layer of skin. On the second night, you apply retinol to unclog pores and increase skin cell production to give your face a fresher look. The downside to constantly using an exfoliant and then retinol is that it can irritate the skin. So Bowe advises her viewers to use days three and four to hydrate and repair, applying only moisturizer after regular facial cleansing.

TikTok users like _eaden are strong advocates of Bowe’s Skin Cycle regimen, calling it a game changer. “When I started doing this a few months ago, someone literally came up to me in person the other day and said, ‘Your skin looks like an Instagram filter,'” she recalls in one of her videos.

But, like every fad you find on TikTok, does it really work?

“Other trends on TikTok are from influencers who have tried something and want to spread the word about a single-case scenario that worked for them,” says Melanie Kingsley, an associate professor of dermatology at the Indiana University School of Medicine and a dermatologist at the University of Health of Indiana. “Then TikTok trends become a bit dangerous because we don’t have the science behind them.”

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However, for some peace of mind, this routine is recommended by a board-certified dermatologist who clinically treats people’s skin conditions. Bowe has “years of experience,” reassures Kingsley. “She formulated it in a way that helped her patients and she refined it over the years.”

Although there is no research looking at the skin’s cycle, Kingsley says there is some evidence to support the importance of removing dead skin cells and using retinol to increase collagen production and reverse skin damage. But instead of doing those two harsh steps again and risking your skin drying out, she says letting your skin heal gives you the benefit of exfoliation and retinol while not damaging the barrier as much, resulting in a brighter, more radiant complexion. bright skin.

Kingsley says she would recommend a skin cycle for patients who want to reboot their nighttime routine or don’t currently have a skincare regimen but want something easy. “I think it’s a great option.”

Although not all skin care experts share the same enthusiasm for Bowe’s skin cycle methods. Amber Rose Johnson, celebrity esthetician and founder of Facial Lounge, explains that the skin cycle is beneficial because it gives the skin time to receive treatment and recover. However, she points out that there is no single skin cycle protocol that is safe for all skin types. “There are a lot of different trends, so I can’t recommend [Bowe’s] especially for sensitive skin.” Johnson also has her own preferred skin cycle method, which revolves around exfoliating more deeply during your menstrual cycle or every 28 days. “It’s our body’s natural exfoliation process, and it’s great to support the process.”

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Pregnant people should be wary of the tendency to change skin, given that there is some evidence that retinols can cause birth defects. Having retinoid sensitivities—such as people with rosacea, contact dermatitis, and eczema—can make the skin’s routine unbearable. If you fall into one of these categories, Kingsley advises ditching retinol and instead focusing on very gentle exfoliation and moisturizing. The key is not to overdo it and take it slow.

“The skin loves to exfoliate, but it can be irritated and angry after the process,” adds Johnson. “You have to give it some love with lots of hydration that is paraben and fragrance free. Not only is it good for large pores, blackheads, fine lines and scars, but it definitely slows down the aging process.

If you’re interested in Skin Cycle but don’t know if it’s right for your skin, consult a skin care expert first. They will help you identify your skin profile, sensitivities and tailor treatments specific to your needs.

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