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Skin Cycling 101: What It Is & How To Do It

Creating a skincare routine can sometimes feel overwhelming. With so many products on the market, it can be difficult to know where to start. Or maybe you're already skincare obsessed but you're looking for a more simplified ritual to get the most out of your products. 

Enter skin cycling — a less-is-more approach to skincare. At its most basic, skin cycling is a four night skincare routine that includes two nights of treatments followed by two nights of recovery. 

Keep reading for our breakdown of what it is and how it works…

While “skin cycling” is a current trend, it’s not new. This method is a four night regime that alternates between using active ingredients and letting the skin rest. Because this technique is so simplified, it helps people that are looking to start, re-do or optimize their skincare routine because it’s a simple step-by-step process. While skincare can be intuitive to some, using active ingredients can take a bit more nuance. Over-exfoliating and using powerful actives too often can harm the skin barrier and lead to redness, irritation and acne. But that’s where the rest days of skin cycling come in handy. Recovery nights focus on nourishing the skin barrier. Skin cycling keeps it simple and it’s highly customizable which is great for different skin types. 

How do you start skin cycling? 

Night 1: Exfoliate. The first night of skin cycling focuses on exfoliation. The goal is to remove the dead layer of skin cells and clean out pores. By doing this, you’re creating the perfect base for your next product to penetrate deeper. This type of exfoliation also gives your skin an immediate glow and preps you to get the most out of night two. Plus, exfoliating can help to boost collagen production, so this step contributes to a youthful complexion. 

Start by using a gentle cleansing balm or oil, exfoliate and then finish with a lightweight, skin-mimicking facial oil like Hydrate. Using a humectant will work to draw and retain moisture into the skin. 

* For physical exfoliants, we recommend using either Detox (best for dull, congested, sensitive & combination skin) or Purify (for 'normal' or mature skin).

* For chemical exfoliants, we like using the clean, non-toxic Moon Juice Acid Potion (made with AHA & BHAs) or Eminence Bright Skin Licorice Root Exfoliating Peel (made with botanical ingredients). 

** Try cycling between a physical and chemical exfoliant. For example, using one during the first week and use the other during week two and so on. 

Night 2: Retinoid. The next night, use retinol. Retinoids are one of the most powerful ingredients to include in your skin-cycling routine. But along with retinol, comes irritation. Which is why you never want to use them too much. If you have especially sensitive skin, or any skin conditions like acne, rosacea or eczema, opt for a retinol alternative like our Resurface Serum. Rich in vitamin A and carotenoids, known as natural retinoids, this form is gentler on skin and will not cause irritation unlike their prescription grade friends. 

Retinoids and exfoliants both speed up cell turnover, but retinoids work on the receptors, which is why sloughing away dead skin on exfoliation night is so important. 

Again, before applying your retinol — start by cleansing with a gentle balm, apply your retinol treatment of choice and then finish with a nutrient-rich facial oil like Restore

Night 3 & 4: Recovery. Time to give your skin a break. On recovery nights, skip the exfoliants, retinol and any actives. Instead, replace the treatment step with a barrier repair serum. The goal here is to focus on nourishing your skins microbiome and repairing and protecting the skin barrier, so think hydration and moisture. Using ingredients like ceramides, glycerins and rich oils are best. 

Gently cleanse skin, use your favourite hydrating mask, then spritz your face and neck with our Balance Tonic Mist (formulated with vegetable glycerin to strengthen the skin barrier, soften skin and enable other ingredients to further penetrate) and finish your routine with Restore to deeply nourish the skin. On the last recovery night, for additional hydration, mix 2-3 drops of Restore in with your moisturizer. 

After night four, go back to the beginning of the cycle and repeat. 

What are the benefits?

Using actives once in a while wont deliver noticeable results. On the flip side, overusing actives can damage the skin barrier and cause irritation. When you exfoliate the night before using a retinol, and then follow up with recovery nights — you’re avoiding the irritation and driving the most dramatic results. This is the goal of skin cycling. From dull to radiant, congested to clear and sensitized to healed — the results will leave you literally glowing. 

So, how long until you see the results of skin cycling? 

You should start to see results in your skin after two full cycles (8 days). Say hello to a healthy glow, overall radiance and your healthiest skin ever. And remember, this process is designed to be customized, so listen to your skin. 

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