Can Skin Cycling Make your Skincare Products More Effective?

Skin cycling has become quite the craze over popular social media platforms and rightfully so. It's become the top recommended method for using actives in skincare routines.

But just what is skin cycling and how did it come about?

Skin cycling is a strategic method for cycling through your evening skincare products to maximize results and minimize irritation (1).  When using multiple products containing acids, retinoids and vitamin C, it is important to use them in a way that reduces irritation and promotes the best results with minimal damage.

Use of acids, retinoids and vitamin c all together can cause disruption of the skin barrier function.

A healthy skin barrier keeps irritants out, while locking natural oils and moisture in. An unhealthy skin barrier allows irritants to penetrate into your skin which impairs its regular function. The key piece of your “skin barrier” is your acid mantle that sits at the very top of the epidermis. It is a very thin, slightly acidic film on the surface of your skin that helps shield your skin from bacteria, viruses and other potential contaminants.

Ceramides, enzymes, sweat, and our own sebum all help the acid mantle protect us, but when it is out of balance, skin conditions such as dryness, acne, inflammation, enlarged pores and oiliness can arise. The rest period in a skin cycling method helps give time for your acid mantle to balance and recover between uses of irritating products.

Skin cycling is a method that's been in use in the skincare industry for years.

It is often recommended as a routine by your aestheticians for the best ways to use your home care products. It wasn't until recent years that the name for this method came about thanks to Dr. Whitney Bowe, a dermatologist who made waves on Tiktok this last year.

How do I skin cycle?

Skin cycling is recommended as a 4-day routine that rotates with two days of actives and two days of rest. However, if you practice a more complicated routine, you may need more days in your rotation, with fewer rest days for less sensitive skins or more rest days for very sensitive skins.

These skin cycles can be customized for what works best for you; however the main idea is a day for exfoliation, a day for retinol and a few days for rest.

If you are using a highly-concentrated vitamin C product or antioxidant like Herbal Face Food, it is recommended to use these serums at night due to the hypersensitivity to sun they can cause, and thus would be used as day 3 in a 5 day cycle. However, if your vitamin C product is less concentrated and not overly sensitizing, it would be recommended to use in the morning followed by sunscreen.

These skin cycle routines are designed for evening routines, thus keeping morning routines consistent and simple.

Skin cycling works well for most people, however for some experienced retinol and acid users, cycling does not provide the results they require. Some people may need daily retinol use for results.

All About Retinols

Many of our retinols at The Kolya Spa are comprised of vitamin A, bachukiol and beta carotene, which is the first stage in how retinol converts in our skin.

Vitamin A and the various molecules derived from vitamin A are known as retinols (ROL). In the skin, ROL is converted to retinaldehyde (RAL) and then to retinoic acid (RA).

This means that our retinols cause less immediate irritation as the process to convert to retinoic acid is slower. This reduces risk of irritation and thus means clients can use these products more frequently.

Sensitized skins, like those with rosacea and couperose, even with our low intensity retinols, would benefit greatly from skin cycling.

Customizable Skin Cycling Routine

When skin cycling, your morning routine always stays the same:

  1. Cleanse 
  2. Toner 
  3. Water-based Serum
  4. Vitamin C serum (if using)   
  5. Moisturizer 
  6. SPF

Evening 1 {Exfoliate}

  1. Double cleanse
  2. Toner
  3. Chemical exfoliant (AHA or BHA)
  4. Moisturizer

Evening 2 {Retinol}

  1. Double cleanse
  2. Toner
  3. Retinol serum
  4. Moisturizer

Evening 3 {*option if using Herbal Face Food and/or have issues with sun sensitivity}

  1. Double cleanse
  2. Toner
  3. Herbal Face Food
  4. Moisturizer

Evening 4-5 {rest days}

  1. Double cleanse
  2. Toner
  3. Hyaluronic serum
  4. Oil serum
  5. Moisturizer

Every skin, person and lifestyle is unique and thus your perfect skin cycle ritual may differ from person to person. If you would like to know your perfect skin cycle visit us at The Kolya Spa for more information and a thorough skin analysis and product review. 




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