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HomeLifestyleSkin Cycling: The TikTok Skin Care Trend Dermatologists Actually Like

Skin Cycling: The TikTok Skin Care Trend Dermatologists Actually Like

There’s a new skin care trend making waves through TikTok, but it’s not a product. It’s a technique called skin cycling.

This viral trend is credited to dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe, who suggests using a four-day cycle, changing the skin care products you use each night.

“This is new on social media and in the news, but many dermatologists have been advising this for years,” explained Dr. Loretta Pratt, a board-certified dermatologist with Advanced Dermatology, P.C. “I have been practicing skin cycling with my own skin care products and routine for over 20 years.”

Part of the appeal of skin cycling is that you use certain products on different days instead of layering them all at once, which could lead to irritation.

Bowe’s skin cycling routine can easily be followed at home. Keep your morning routine the same: cleansing, adding any extra serums you may want, and, of course, applying sunscreen.

“For the daytime routine, the final application should always be a sunscreen/SPF product for your specific skin type,” Pratt said.

Nighttime is when skin cycling really starts.

“The routine is based on a four-night schedule: exfoliation (acids) night, retinoid night, recovery night, and another recovery night,” explained Alexandra Ward, a licensed esthetician at Reform Aesthetics in Encino, California. “The idea is that the skin will receive both a retinoid and exfoliant while also preventing any irritation.”

Day 1: Exfoliation Night

“The first night of treatment should include a chemical exfoliant, such as a gentle at-home peel, to provide even exfoliation,” said Dr. Jaimie DeRosa, double board-certified facial plastic surgeon and founder of DeRosa Center Facial Plastic Surgery & Med Spa in Boston and Palm Beach. “An exfoliant should always be applied after gentle cleanser and always be followed by a moisturizer.”

There are multiple benefits to starting off the cycle with an exfoliation night. Not only will it clear away dead skin, making your skin smoother, but it preps your skin to absorb products better on the next day of the cycle.

For exfoliation night, Dr. Gary Motykie, a board-certified plastic surgeon in Beverly Hills, recommended using SkinCeuticals Glycolic Renewal Gel Cleanser. While it’s a gentle cleanser, the glycolic and phytic acids help exfoliate and dissolve dead skin.

Here are more top picks for exfoliating:

The Best Products For Face Exfoliation

Day 2: Retinol Or Retinoid Night

Just like the first night, start night two with applying gentle cleanser to prep the skin for retinol,” DeRosa said. “Use only a small amount, as retinol is a skin irritant and, if you are just starting using it or have sensitive skin, be especially cautious not to overdo it.”

Why have a retinol night in the skin cycle? Retinol is essentially a miracle product. It increases skin cell production and helps stimulate collagen production, which in turn leads to fewer wrinkles, fading dark spots and improved skin texture.

There are numerous retinol products on the market. If you don’t currently have one in your medicine cabinet, Ward recommended Skinbetter Alpharet Overnight Cream.

If you’re a retinol newbie, consider starting with something gentle, like Fleur and Bee ‘A’ Game Serum, which has a lower percentage of retinol and naturally soothing ingredients like jojoba oil, aloe vera, and green tea.

Here are more dermatologist picks for retinols:

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair retinol moisturizer

The Best Retinol Creams, According To A Dermatologist

Day 3 And Day 4: Recovery Nights

After the exfoliation and retinol nights, the next two days will focus on letting your skin rest. On these nights, all you have to do is cleanse and use moisturizer.

“I recommend using a simple moisturizer and making sure it doesn’t have any hidden active [ingredients], vitamin A, or retinol in it,” Ward said. “I love Epionce Medical Barrier Cream and Dieux Instant Angel Moisturizer as both contain fatty acids to focus on restoring the skin’s barrier.”

There is some wiggle room in these nights if you feel this isn’t enough moisture for your skin type.

“If there is need for extra hydration (if your skin feels dry) then consider adding a hyaluronic acid serum after cleansing and before adding the moisturizer,” DeRosa said. “If you want to go even further and keep the moisturizer locked in for better hydration, use skin oil on top of it to keep the moisture in.”

If you’re someone who wants extra moisturizer, DeRosa recommended, “Alphascience HA Booster Serum is fantastic.”

“The 0.5% pure hyaluronic acids include both low and high molecular weights, which means that some of the [hyaluronic acid] goes deeper into the skin’s epidermis, while the rest stays closer to the surface of the skin, making the skin more hydrated for the short and long term,” she said.

After your second recovery night, it’s time to restart the cycle.

Special Considerations When Skin Cycling

If you’re someone who doesn’t have much of a skin care routine, be careful not to jump in too quickly.

“If you’re going to skin cycle, start low and go slow. The technique allows you to gradually introduce stronger products,” Motykie said. This technique might not be for everyone and it’s helpful to first consult with an expert, he explained.

“If you have sensitive or reactive skin, you don’t want to introduce a super active product. A skin expert can help you select the products that will be right for you,” Motykie added. “Also, if you’re on Accutane or any other acne medication, you want to stick to super gentle products, skin cycling wouldn’t be the right routine for you.”

As beneficial as skin cycling can be (just look up the awesome results on TikTok), the most important part of any skin care routine happens in the morning: applying sunscreen. You can cycle with the best products, but if you’re not using sun protection, the damage will far outweigh the benefits of your new nightly routine.

Want to check out what else has been trending on TikTok in the beauty world? Check out the products below.

HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.

Bek O’Connell / BuzzFeed

Elizavecca’s CER-100 collagen coating hair protein treatment made with soy protein, allantoin, and ceramide 3

It works like a mask to revive your dry hair and give your strands the boost they need after you’ve used too much heat on them. It’s recommended for use on damaged, over-processed hair of all textures.

Promising review: “TikTok made me buy this the first time. I liked it enough to buy it again. It leaves my hair super hydrated and soft. If you have issues with oily hair, maybe not for you. But those with dry or curly hair needing moisture — yes yes yes! Keep the box for directions because you can’t read the ones on the bottle if you don’t understand the language.” — Kandyce D.

Cerave hdrating cleanser, a must-have for anyone who deals with acne, dry, or sensitive skin

This cleanser is formulated with hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and glycerin, which all work together to help remove makeup and hydrate skin without stripping it of its natural oils.

Promising review:
“I got this after seeing a recommendation on TikTok. It’s been a lifesaver for me. I have dry, red, sensitive, acne-prone skin. Most cleansers strip my skin, but not this one. It’s been helping keep my skin clear while not drying it for a few months now. If you have dry skin this is a must!” — L Ashburne

A set of matte lipsticks about to put every other lipstick you’ve ever tried to shame

Promising review: “What can I say, I saw a TikTok about this lipstick and for $10 had to try it! The reviews are right, for some reason this lipstick is better than even $20 name brand ones bought from Ulta. Not only does it smell great, but dries in under a minute and survived eating a cupcake, a Starbucks drink, and an entire evening out, no smudging and had to be removed with a makeup wipe. Fantastic product!!” — Claire

Bold Uniq purple hair mask, which works to brighten the tone of blonde hair between salon visits

It also works as a great deep conditioner to give your hair some extra moisture and shine. Bleaching can be so harsh on your locks, but this mask will help restore that moisture it’s missing.

Promising review

: “I saw this product on TikTok and decided to give it a try! This product is absolutely amazing! I have always had platinum blonde hair, and it always turns a golden blonde after awhile. My hair is naturally dirty blonde. I even noticed it made my roots lighter. Will buy again! A MUST-HAVE FOR PLATINUM BLONDES!” — Kelsie

An adorable octopus-shaped blackhead remover that works to pull out whiteheads, blackheads, and any other gunk clogging up your pores

Promising review: “After just two days of use, this adorable little octopus has done wonders for me, smells great too. Here’s how I used it: I wore down the stick just a little to where the texture from the salt is visible, scrubbed around on my face so there was plenty of product, then I used my fingers to gently massage all the gunk away. Rinse, pat dry, and enjoy the softness. Highly recommended for people with sensitive skin like myself.” — LuckLocust

Amazon

The Chi Spin N Curl, which is here to make you feel like you’re living in the year 3000

You may not be living underwater, but you will have a curling iron that does all the work for you. Simply drop a section of your hair into the barrel, and it will rotate it on its own, leaving you with a perfect coil in just a few seconds. Voilà!

Promising review:
“OK. This 👏 thing 👏 is 👏 amazing 👏. I have two sisters that are professional cosmetologists and well that talent surpassed me COMPLETELY. I have straight, stubborn hair. I’ve never been able to get it to do anything. I’ve never been good at using a curling iron, wand, leave-in curlers or had any luck with the “wavy hair hacks.” So I did my research when I saw this thing on TikTok, of all places, and WOW, I’m super impressed. I’ve used it twice so far and truly LOVE IT! It’s very easy to use.” — LinLo09

Amazon

Winky Lux Flower Balm that’s not only super moisturizing, but also changes color based on the unique pH levels in your skin

Promising review: “I loved this color-changing balm!!!!!!! It’s been my favorite purchase so far. I saw this girl on TikTok use it, and I had to try it. It’s super compact, and the color it gives out is so pretty and fits well with everyone’s skin tone. It’s moisturizing and sheer. I’m buying more instead of getting my lips tattooed.” — Stephany

Amazon

A continuous water mister perfect for days two and three after you wash your hair when you want to freshen up your locks without having to do a full wash

Promising review: “Another amazing product TikTok made me buy. Was looking for some thing for when I wet my hair in the mornings. My old typical spray bottles kept breaking or leaking. This one has a longer spray time and the mist is perfect when I don’t want to get my hair too wet. All in all worth it especially for the price.” —M. Zuniga

A set of makeup sponges that cost a fraction of all the other well-known brands on the market

Promising review: “Don’t hesitate, just buy these. I was using the Real Technique sponges for years and I bought these on a whim after seeing several TikToks praising these. I love these sponges and the price. I apply liquid foundation with a damp sponge and these work better than Real Techniques. They are dense but soft and ‘bouncy.’ I wash mine between each use, and these hold up very well and much better than the RT. I’m very happy with my purchase and the price. I will definitely continue to buy.” — chris

A Denman hair bush specifically designed with evenly spaced bristles to detangle and shape curls at the exact same time

The brush is available in three styles and four color sets.

Promising review:
“TikTok made me do it. I never knew I had 3A curls until I used this brush. It evenly spreads product throughout the hair and clumps up your curls. It’s just an amazing brush!” — mariela

An exfoliating scrub mitt you can use a couple of times a month to remove all the excess dead skin and particles on your skin

It’s also great for removing self-tanner, fighting ingrown hairs and increasing circulation.

Promising review:
“I have very thin and light body hair, so any form of removal (shaving, waxing, etc) usually leaves me with a lot of ingrown hairs. I’ve tried body scrubs and washcloths and neither really do a great job. I saw this product recommended by a dermatologist on TikTok and thought I’d try it — it’s amazing! I also have very sensitive skin, and this mitt doesn’t leave my skin irritated at all. However, absolutely do not use this mitt on your face, neck, or other sensitive areas, it would be way too harsh. I like to use this mitt first when I get in the shower, then use a body wash (a gentle chemical exfoliant) and follow up with body lotion for dry and sensitive skin. This whole routine is fragrance-free and leaves my skin feeling very soft and moisturized.” — Kat

Maitland Quitmeyer / BuzzFeed

A Lovoir winged eyeliner stamp making this step in your routine so much easier

Promising review: “Someone recommended this product for me on TikTok, I was unsure of the quality because it was such a cheap price. I have cried and swam, and this stuff doesn’t come off easy! It’s great. Not to mention it lasts a long time! I am happy with this brand.” — Shay Lastowski

Amazon

First Aid Beauty’s KP bump eraser body scrub exfoliant formulated to gently eliminate any rough or bumpy skin that’s giving you trouble

People with keratosis pilaris swear by this for helping them get smoother skin.

Promising review:
“I saw this on TikTok and Instagram. I decided to try it, and it really works. I used it on my thighs and upper arms. I noticed a difference the first time and even more the second time!!! Fabulous product. Worth every penny.” — Lana

Amazon

Maybelline’s Instant Age Rewind concealer with a sponge on the end so you can swipe it under your eyes in seconds

It’s available in 18 shades.

Promising review:
“I personally like this product. Throughout high school (I recently graduated in June), I never knew how to do makeup. But then I heard this product was the absolute best on TikTok. And trust me, they were not lying. It has really good coverage and hides my ‘raccoon eyes.’ And the beat part is that a little bit goes a long way. So if you’re starting out or want to try something new I definitely recommend to try this out .Liela Lee

Solaroil, a nail and cuticle oil designed to strengthen your nails with daily use

Promising review: “I found this on TikTok, and I’m so pleased with the results. My nails are getting stronger and growing. And the best of all, not chipping. Love it.” — sidna saavedra

Maybelline’s Lash Sensational Sky High mascara because the sky’s the limit when it comes to your lashes

This mascara will help you get there. The formula is made with a mix of bamboo extract and fibers to help build the length of your lashes without clumping or weighing them down. It comes in six shades.

Promising review
: “I bought this mascara after seeing it go viral on TikTok. This stuff is incredible. I’ve been using this mascara for two months, and it’s still performing very well. I admit that I am not a fan of the packaging (it feels clunky, cheap, and plasticy), but it’s the inside that counts, right? The formula builds well. The brush is the perfect length to grip and coat all of my lashes. It lengthens my short eyelashes after just one coat! I tested this against my more expensive mascaras, and it performed better than most!” — Gizelle Cade

A hair-finishing stick that looks like mascara but actually works to put all your baby hairs, flyaways and broken hair into their place

Promising review: “I saw this on TikTok and didn’t believe it was as good as they said, but it is! It looks like a tube of mascara, and I thought it would make my hair hard or greasy looking, nope! Just makes the flyaways stay down. Now if I could just remember to use it more often. 😂” — Sam Ingle

Or an edge control gel reviewers swear stays in place all day and doesn’t flake

Promising review: “So, I first found out about this product in my Cosmo school I attend and fell in love. It stays on just right for a long time, just as advertised! I had bought a different edge tamer and was disappointed, but this one exceeds my expectations, which is why I also purchased the largest tub size! Maria

L’Oréal Paris Infallible Fresh Wear powder foundation because it’s bound to be your new favorite foundation as soon as you try it

It’s a full-coverage powder that comes in 20 shades and blurs redness and acne, has a matte finish and stays put all day. Yes, the foundation can basically do it all!

Promising review:
“I have purchased this three times in the color Sienna, and it is perfect! It’s totally worth all the hype on TikTok. This is a very emollient powder that sticks to the skin. I prep with sunscreen then use this. The fragrance dissipates quickly. I noticed the actual powder is bouncy to the touch. I have not used the pelican or sponge it comes with. I like to use a powder brush. It gives me full coverage, and I look flawless all day. I also don’t need to blot. And I am very oily. I will certainly continue to repurchase. This is the best powder I have tried since Mac Studio Fix.” — Maria Webba

Amazon

Olaplex No. 3 hair perfector, which is worth the investment for anyone with broken, damaged hair

Promising review: “My hair was damaged from use of heat tools and became unmanageable, but after watching a ‘Sephora Must-Haves’ Video on TikTok, something told me to try it! So I did! Oh man, how I’ve seen a major difference after using this product! This is just my second time using it (same bottle). Yes, it’s only 100 ml, but it’s so worth the money. I use it as an overnight mask and wash it in the morning! I never been so happy with results.” — michelleelee

Amazon

Juno & Co.’s Clean 10 cleansing balm, made with only 10 ingredients that remove makeup (yes, even waterproof mascara) without leaving that oily feeling behind

Promising review: “I LOVE THIS PRODUCT!!!! I found it on TikTok and OMG!! It works so well. I don’t have to sit there and rub the crap out of my eyelashes to get the waterproof mascara off. I will admit, it doesn’t take 100% of the makeup off but about 95% of my makeup comes off. It is not water-resistant, as emulsifying it with water helps take the makeup off. I have not found a better makeup remover, and yes, that includes Micellar Water (which also works well but leaves my skin feeling oily). With this cleansing balm, my face feels hydrated and smooth. LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!!!!!!!! 1000/10 would recommend!!!” — Deetje Frederick

A set of two facial applicator brushes that’ll be an easy way to apply your face masks and skincare

Promising review: “I absolutely love these. I saw them on TikTok and ordered them right away. I’ve been using them for months now and they make applying masks so much easier. I get a much more even application than I did with my hands or with other brushes. Extremely easy to use, clean, and store. Love love love!” — Caterina

Emma Lord / BuzzFeed

A shampoo scalp massager to use in the shower to help stimulate your scalp to remove dandruff

Promising review: “I saw this little thing all over TikTok and everyone swore by it. To be honest, they’re right, and I now swear by it. It’s perfectly soft and sturdy to massage the scalp. Works shampoo into roots, helps with dry skin and such. I absolutely love it, and I use it every time I wash my hair. I most definitely would recommend to anyone. Don’t hesitate.” — Z

Amazon

Bio-Oil, which is made with a mix of vitamins A and E, chamomile and lavender that work together to help fade scars

Promising review: “Acne scars? Read this. I found out about this product while scrolling through TikTok last week. It came highly recommended, so I decided to look up the price on Amazon. After reading several reviews, I figured I might as well try it out. Today is the fourth day I used the product on my face. My skin looks dewy and nice. The discoloration on my cheeks from a few years old acne scars is improving. My skin looks younger — it’s hard to describe, but I can see a difference. It looks less rough. I’ve been using it morning and night.” —Yasmin Rodriguez

Verb Ghost Oil , a lightweight hair oil that gives your hair the refresh it needs on your non-wash days

It’s great for all hair types, but especially those prone to frizz. A couple of spritz of this formula will tame flyaways and add shine without contributing any greasiness.

Promising review:
“This stuff is amazing. My hair was very dry and the ends appeared split. I bought this stuff from a TikTok recommendation and will never go back. Super light and moisturizing.” — Amazon Customer

A set of dermaplaning razors designed to be a quick way for you to shape your eyebrows, remove any unwanted hair and just get smooth skin

Promising review: “I saw these on TikTok and was skeptical, but they work so well. I use them for any facial peach fuzz and to shape my eyebrows, and they’re perfect.” — Megan Kopicko

A heatless curling rod headband perfect for anyone who wants to cut down on the amount of heat they use on their hair

The set includes a curling rod, two hair scrunchies, a claw hair clip, and two duckbill hair clips to set it in place. You can use this on all hair types, but reviewers say it works best when used with damp hair!

Promising review: “Before purchasing, I’d seen a lot of reviews and tutorials on TikTok showing the results. My hair is thick, coarse, and naturally wavy, so I figured this might be a good alternative to rollers that are time-consuming to put in, difficult to sleep in, and ultimately not worth it. And MAN was I right to be hopeful. Wrap pieces of damp hair around it before bed, the tighter the wrap, the tighter the curl. Easy to sleep in since there’s nothing on the back of your head, and my curls are BOUNCY the next morning. My only complaint is that it doesn’t help give any top-volume, but nothing some teasing can’t fix. 10/10. I’ll never go back to a curling iron.” — Mariah

L’Oreal Paris Elvive 8 Second Wonder Water to help reverse damage to your hair in eight seconds

It’s recommended to use this product on the ends of wet hair (be careful to avoid your scalp) two to three times per week after you shampoo. You should use one dose if you have fine to medium textured hair, two to three if you have thick to curly textured hair and add one extra dose if you have long hair.

Promising Reviews: “Yes, I actually saw this product reviewed on TikTok and had to try it. It is amazing stuff, OMGOSH!!! I have already purchased my second bottle. I have a lot of hair, and it gets tangled easily this stuff made it soft and manageable after the first use. PLEASE be careful not to get it on your scalp it does start to feel warm almost like when you have had your hair color on too long, I just use it more towards the ends. Overall great stuff.” — Jennifer Borchers

Amazon

A bottle of NYX setting spray you can spritz on after doing your makeup in the morning and not have to worry about applying again

It comes in a matte, dewy and plumping finish.

Promising review:
“I had seen this on TikTok and thought it was a waste of money, until I tried it, and it works. It locks in your makeup. You just have to make sure your makeup is perfect and then spray your face.” — Mary

Amazon

A Marshmallow Whip Maker so you can whip up your favorite face cleanser and turn it into a cup of frothy foam

To use, add a pearl-sized drop of cleanser, fill the container with water to the dotted line, and pump into its foam.

Promising review: “I bought this product after doing a bunch of reviews after seeing it all over my TikTok feed. This device takes your cleanser and turns it into a foamy product. Why would you want your cleanser to be foam? First, you will make your cleanser last WAY longer. You add a little bit of cleanser and water, then pump it a few times. Instantly it’s foam. You will be using less product, which means you will save money. Another reason is that the product became concentrated and when you put on your face you get the whole product all over your entire face. Foam cleansers are preferred when cleansing because it’s more thorough when washing. It gets the whole surface area. Third, it’s fun! You pump and you instantly have foam. I made a video on TikTok and it went viral! This product is so cute and fun plus it will help stretch your cleanser.” — Aimee Rouseau

A Revlon One-Stop Hair Dryer & Volumizer that’s going viral for a reason: It cuts drying time in half *and* helps you easily create a salon-worthy blowout at home.

This brush has hype with more than 213,000 5-star reviews, and it really does live up to it. The oval brush design smooths the hair and the round edges create volume — leaving you with a salonworthy blowout at home. It also has two heat and speed settings and a cool option.

Promising review: “THIS. IS. EVERYTHING. TikTok made me buy it. I actually have 3b wavy hair that’s very thick. I gave up blow drying a long time ago… never worked for me with all this hair. Now, I have myself a near salon quality blow out with nothing but this tool and CLEAN HAIR! I didn’t even towel dry, just air dried for 15 minutes. Life changing. Even if it breaks, I will buy again. It’s so nice to have that blown out look for style and convenience, but it’s perfectly primed for straightening (I’m sure I can get BONE STRAIGHT). I just can’t say enough good things about this god send for THICK HAIR! And it’s easy to maneuver and manage while using it. And again, I put zero product to achieve this look! So smooth!!” — Dominique Morrow

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