Ask Grace: What Is Skin Cycling?

Hi Grace, 

Every time I log onto TikTok I see something about skin cycling, but everyone seems to have a different interpretation of it. I’d love to know what it actually is, if it’s worth doing, and how you to do it! Will I see results straight away or is it something that takes time to work?


What is skin cycling?

Skin cycling isn’t actually anything new – it’s just a fun name for a technique that dermatologists and estheticians have been recommending to clients for years – but it’s recently become huge on TikTok which is why we’re hearing so much more about it. Skin cycling is essentially a gentler, more kind-to-skin way to use active ingredients (like retinoids and exfoliating acids) which can irritate and sensitise skin if used too frequently. For example, you might use an exfoliant one night, a retinoid the next, and then have a day where you skip the actives and use something soothing or hydrating instead.

No one needs to do skin cycling, and the technique is only really beneficial if you are already using a retinoid and an acid and you’re noticing things like irritation upon application, redness, increased sensiitivity, and dry skin. If you’re not currently using a retinoid and an acid in your routine then you may not need to – for many people this can be too overwhelming for skin, even when they’re skin cycling.

What are the steps to skin cycling?

1. On the first night, incorporate exfoliation into your evening routine. This could be via a scrub, toner, mask, or serum which contains either exfoliating particles or chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid, lactic acid, or salicylic acid. This step helps to remove dead skin and clear pores.

2. On the second night, apply a retinoid serum. Retinoids can help to target signs of ageing, like wrinkles and loose skin, and can help to reduce the congestion that builds up and leads to breakouts.

3. On the third night (and the fourth if you wish to give your skn a bit more time off), skip the actives altogether. This is essentially your recovery hase, so it’s a good idea to apply products with ingredients that will soothe, calm, hydrate, and repair skin. Serums and creams with ceramides, cica, hyaluronic acid, and squalane are a good starting point.

How long does skin cycling take to work?

This will be totally diffrent for each individual as it depends on factors such as if you’ve previously been using the same products, the strength of the ingredients, other products in your routine, your skin type and condition, how consistent you are, and how your skin responds to the skin cycling technique. However, the average time for people to see benefits from a change in their routine will see results in approximately six to eight weeks.

What products can you use for skin cycling?

Mature skin:

Dry & sensitive skin:

Oily & breakout-prone skin: