Skin cycling has been taking beauty TikTok by storm, with creators all over the platform taking to their channels to test out the viral skincare method.
While the trend may be all the rage right now, is it really a must-try for everyone — including those with more mature skin? I asked an expert in the field to break down skin cycling and whether or not it's actually good for mature skin.
What is skin cycling?
If you're new to skin cycling, the process typically consists of rotating between an exfoliator, retinol, and moisturizer on different days of the week. The skincare routine allows for "rest days" between products, in which your skin has time to repair itself after the use of certain ingredients.
Here's how it works: On night one, it's recommended to use an exfoliator after cleansing the skin to remove any dead skin cells. Then, you'll want to follow up with a moisturizer to help soothe the skin.
On the second night, you'll go in with your retinoid products, which are designed to increase the production of collagen and reduce the appearance of fine lines and/or wrinkles.
Nights three and four are for skin recovery. During this time, don't apply any type of exfoliator or retinoids, and instead use products that are formulated to hydrate the skin which can help contribute to a replenished skin barrier. As a result, it's recommended to take the third and fourth nights to simply cleanse your skin and apply moisturizer.
Skin cycling goes viral on TikTok
Skin cycling has gained traction within TikTok's beauty community, with creators across the platform giving the trend a try for themselves. The hashtag #skincycling has racked up more than 174 million views, with thousands of videos from users.
Creators such as @realmaturecolette have posted videos to walk their audience through skin cycling, in which they go through in-depth tutorials on how to apply these products to achieve the best results.
During her nighttime routine, she first cleanses her skin (she notes you can also double cleanse if needed) with a gentle face wash. She follows up with "two tiny dollops" of an active retinoid product, applying it all over and allowing it to absorb into her skin. To finish off, she gives her skin a boost of hydration by applying a hyaluronic acid-boosting serum.
Dr. Whitney Bowe is another popular figure on TikTok who has talked extensively about the skin cycling trend and how it affects those with mature skin.
She claims that skin cycling is "excellent" for mature skin and that she would recommend "opting for over-the-counter retinoid products over a prescription-strength retinoid" if you have mature skin and are looking to participate in the trend.
An expert weighs in on the TikTok-famous trend
According to TikTok, skin cycling and mature skin go hand in hand, but is this really the case? I asked Dr. Geeta Yadav, Board-Certified Dermatologist, and founder of FACET Dermatology to weigh in:
"The skin cycling trend can be followed by most skin types but is especially ideal for mature skin types," she says.
As skin ages, its ability to produce new collagen declines dramatically, causing your skin's cellular turnover to slow down. This leads to common visible signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles.
"Skin needs the help of active ingredients, like those found in skin cycling, to kick those processes into high gear," she adds. "The exfoliant step sloughs away the dead skin cells that are preventing new cells from turning over, while the retinoid step helps trigger new collagen production."
For those with mature skin looking to try the latest skincare trend, Yadav notes that "mature skin tends to be on the drier side as hormonal changes affect the skin's ability to produce sebum, and exfoliants and retinoids will absolutely contribute to an even drier state."
As a result, she stresses the "paramount importance to soothe and nourish skin with a rich night cream" if you're looking to integrate skin cycling as part of your nighttime routine.
So, what products would a dermatologist suggest using if you have mature skin and want to start skin cycling?
Here are some of Yadav's top recommendations, many of which are on sale now at Sephora thanks to their Holiday Sale. Beauty Insiders can save 20 per cent on most products — just use the code GETGIFTING at checkout:
Yadav states that this Sunday Riley serum's star ingredient is lactic acid— one of the gentlest alpha-hydroxy acids to resurface skin. It also contains soothing aloe and arnica, as well as licorice, which is an ingredient known to brighten and fade discolouration.
The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% Exfoliating Serum is a great budget-friendly dupe
This product is great for all skin types and features a lactic acid peeling formula that promotes healthy-looking, smoother skin.
According to Yadav, this serum blends retinol with gentle botanical retinol alternatives for comprehensive skin renewal.
The Ordinary Retinol 1% in Squalane offers similar results for a fraction of the price
This budget-friendly retinoid is a water-free solution of one percent pure retinol that will help target fine lines and wrinkles.
Moisturizer: SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2
Yadav "loves this rich formula." This is because it contains ingredients that are critical to skin barrier support. She also mentions that it features a blend of fatty acids, cholesterol, and amino acids, which provide intensive nourishment and moisture without leaving skin pores feeling clogged.
The Clarins Hydra-Essentiel Rich Cream for Very Dry Skin is a budget-friendly option
This rich, nourishing cream helps restore radiance to dry and sensitive skin. It's ultra-hydrating and feels super lightweight when applied.