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Skin Cycling – Is it just a passing fad or here to stay?

Skin Cycling – Is it just a passing fad or here to stay?

If you follow skin care influencers or brands on social media, chances are that you may have come across the term Skin Cycling at least once a day. It clearly is the buzzword of the season. The hashtag #SkinCycling has over 3.5 billion views (and counting) on social media. The term ‘Skin Cycling’ was coined by Dr. Whitney Bowe, a New York City–based board-certified dermatologist. Though the concept has been around for ages, Dr. Bowe came up with the term during the peak of the pandemic, when she noticed people using way too many skin products or the wrong products for their skin concerns. Dr. Bowe started spreading the word about skin cycling to help simplify things for her patients and social media users.

What is Skin Cycling?
Skin Cycling is a four-day skin care regime with one night dedicated to exfoliating skin, the second to applying a retinoid, and the rest of the nights dedicated to rest and skipping products with active ingredients. The idea is that adopting a skin cycling routine can help prevent the skin barrier from being compromised due to overuse of active ingredients. It is a great method to create a consistent and effective routine to help skin work optimally.

Products required:

  • Exfoliator:A chemical exfoliator preferably with glycolic acid, lactic acid or salicylic acid works best.
  • Serums and Moisturisers: : A serum containing hyaluronic acid, glycerine, Vitamin C and/or niacinamide followed by a moisturiser.The A Dermalogica BioLumin C Serum .is a brightening Vitamin C serum with Lactic Acid and helps reduce unbalanced pigmentation. This coupled with the BioLumin C Gel Moisturizer which contains five types of Hyaluronic Acid and Squalane, provide weightless hydration and boost skin’s radiance.
  • Retinol :

Process of Skin Cycling:

Night One: Exfoliation

Start by cleansing and patting your skin dry. Then proceed to use a chemical exfoliating product with glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid or ingredients like AHAs, BHAs or PHAs, which are more effective when it comes to exfoliating on a deeper level. Chemical exfoliants are water and oil soluble acid-based solutions with varying levels of concentration that help remove build-up of dead skin cells to give rejuvenated, glowy and healthy skin.

  • AHAs or Alpha Hydroxy Acids are water soluble acids that include ingredients like glycolic acid, malic acid, mandelic acid and lactic acid. This helps keep the skin hydrated and supple.
  • BHAs or Beta Hydroxy Acids are oil soluble combinations of salicylic acid, which help unclog pores and remove any excessive accumulation of sebum. It is best recommended for oily or acne-prone skin.
  • Lastly, PHAs or Poly Hydroxy Acids work the same way as AHA-based chemical exfoliators. The only difference is that they have larger molecule size, which means lesser penetration into the skin. These are meant for mild and superficial exfoliation.

Night Two: Retinoid

On the following night, use a retinol-based product. Retinols, when used by themselves, are great for your skin. Retinol increases skin proliferation (increases production of skin cells) and unclogs pores. It also exfoliates your skin and increases collagen production, which can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, giving your skin a fresher, plump appearance. However, if used too frequently or layered with other potentially irritating ingredients, it can do more damage than good.

A beginner to skin cycling, must apply a hydrating cream to the sensitive areas of the face like under the eyes, around the corners of the nose and on the marionette lines, before applying a retinoid to prevent dryness and inflammation. Beginners or people with sensitive skin can also apply what Dr. Bowe calls a ‘retinoid sandwich.’ It includes applying a moisturiser, then a layer of a retinoid of your choice, followed by another layer of the moisturiser. This helps prevent dryness and get maximum benefits of the retinoid, without it being too harsh on the skin.

Night Three and Four: Repair & Recovery

Nights three and four are all about getting your skin the much-deserved rest. Just like a great fitness routine that emphasises the importance of downtime and rest, a great skin care routine must also include recovery days. Nights three and four must be used to focus on hydrating and nourishing the skin, while repairing the skin’s barrier. Products that are fragrance free, which contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, niacinamide and ceramides, can be used. These ingredients help build and support the skin's barrier.

Lastly, using an SPF30 at least, during the day is of utmost importance.

Benefits of Skin Cycling.

Skin cycling can be really effective because it gives your skin a chance to heal in between treatments. According to a review published by the Indian Journal of Medical Research, the skin barrier protects you from infection, harsh chemicals and allergens. A range of skin conditions like acne, eczema, etc., can be caused due to a compromised skin barrier. Using powerful retinoids or over-exfoliating can damage the skin's barrier which may lead to other concerns. Essentially, applying too much too often can lead to sensitive, tight, dry skin or hyperpigmentation. The recovery days in the skin-cycling routine, which allows the skin one to nourish the skin and rest, help keep these problems at bay.

However, people with certain skin conditions including severe acne, eczema, rosacea etc., must consult with their dermatologist before trying or indulging in a new skin care routine.

How to get started?

First and foremost, identify and understand your skin type and the products that work best for your skin. Knowing your skin will help you choose the right products and reap maximum benefits of those products. Consistency and patience are key to achieving great results through skin cycling. Just like a fitness routine, sticking to the same routine for a few weeks before altering it or quitting entirely, is important.

If you aren’t sure on where to start on your skin cycling journey, here are a few of Dermalogica India’s products to get your skin in great shape!




  • Dermalogica BioLumin C Serum is a brightening Vitamin C serum with Lactic Acid, that exfoliates and reduces unbalanced pigmentation. It also prevents and corrects free radical damage.
  • Dermalogica AGE Bright Clearing Serumis a two-in-one brightening and clearing serum with Salicylic Acid and Niacinamide. The Salicylic Acid clears and helps prevent breakouts, while the Niacinamide promotes brighter and an even skin tone.
  • Dermalogica Retinol Clearing Oil is a high-performance night oil that combines Retinol, Salicylic Acid and Rosehip seed oil into one skin-soothing formula. While the rosehip oil nourishes the skin, the slow-release Retinol works all night to help optimise skin recovery and salicylic acid targets active breakouts to help clear skin.
  • Dermalogica PowerBright Dark Spot Serum is an advanced serum with Niacinamide that fades hyperpigmentation and dark spots in a few days and helps prevent future dark spots as well.


  • Dermalogica Skin Smoothing Cream is an active HydraMesh moisturiser that offers 48 hours of continuous hydration with Hyaluronic Acid and glycerine.
  • Dermalogica Intensive Moisture Balanceis an ultra-nourishing moisturiser with Hyaluronic Acid. It helps strengthen the skin's lipid barrier and rebalance the skin's microbiome, while intensely moisturising dry and depleted skin.
  • Dermalogica Calm Water Gelis a weightless water-gel moisturiser with Dual Hyaluronic Acid technology and glycerine that hydrates dry, sensitive skin. It softens, soothes and calms dry irritated skin.
  • BioLumin C Gel Moisturizer - A daily brightening gel moisturiser with five types of Hyaluronic Acid and Squalane, it provides weightless hydration and boosts skin radiance.
  • Dermalogica PowerBright Overnight Creamis a brightening, nourishing night-time cream with Niacinamide that optimises skin moisture recovery and helps restore luminosity.

Moisturisers with SPF

  • Dermalogica Dynamic Skin Recovery SPF50 face moisturiser and sunscreenis an age-fighting, medium-weight, emollient daily moisturiser with broad-spectrum SPF50 and Hyaluronic Acid. It provides long-lasting hydration and critical protection against UV rays along with controlling the triggers that lead to skin ageing.
  • Dermalogica Protection 50 Sport SPF50is a water-resistant, broad-spectrum UV protection for face and body with Hyaluronic Acid. The Sophisticated Oleosome Technology helps powerfully defend skin against the sun's damaging rays and keep skin hydrated.

Eye Treatment

  • Dermalogica Stress Positive Eye Lift is a cooling cream-gel masque and treatment with Hyaluronic Acid. The high-performance eye treatment and masque energises skin to reduce visible signs of stress, puffiness and dark circles, while increasing skin luminosity, and restoring skin barrier integrity
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