Skin circulation is a TikTok trend that dermatologists really recognize

Skin cycles are the latest beauty trend to take over TikTok. With a cool 3.5 billion views on the hashtag, the skin cycle trend is far from a weird and wacky approach (as is often the case on the Generation Z-dominated platform). In fact, according to many skin experts and dermatologists, it actually has legs. But what exactly is it?

“The concept of skin cycling applies to nighttime skincare routines, which involve using active ingredients only on certain days and following them on ‘off’ days,” explains Dr. Alexis Granite. “The four-day cycle is the most popular and typically involves using active ingredients on two nights of the week, followed by two nights of rest – and repeating.”

The idea is that using a skin-cycling routine can help prevent damage to the skin barrier from overuse of active ingredients – plus, it’s a great way to create a consistent and effective routine to help the skin work optimally. The New York dermatologist behind the concept is Dr. Whitney Bowe, who shared her vision for the ultimate skin-cycling routine on TikTok.

Night 1: Exfoliate
“You want to cleanse [the skin], pat it dry and then apply an exfoliator,” explains Dr. Bowe, who recommends using a leave-on product rather than something that can be washed off like a cleanser. Look for chemical exfoliants with ingredients like AHA, BHA and PHA, rather than physical scrubs, because they are better and more effective on the skin barrier.

Night 2: Vitamin A-like
The next day, apply retinoids after cleansing your face. If you are not familiar with retinoids and skin circulation in general, start by applying a moisturizer to sensitive areas of your face (under your eyes, around the corners of your nose and along your puppet lines) to act as a buffer and prevent dryness and irritation. Then, apply your retinoid to the entire face, neck and décolleté.

Night 3 and 4: Repair and Recovery
It’s time to take care of the skin barrier and make sure your skin is well moisturized. Dr. Bowe recommends cleansing, keeping the skin moist, and then applying a serum containing ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin and/or niacinamide. Follow with a moisturizer: “Choose a formula that really nourishes to support the skin barrier,” says Dr. Bowe. “If your skin is really dry, apply rosehip oil or squalane oil to your cheeks.”