What is a Skin Cycling Routine?

Alternating skincare ingredients within the various products we use is not a new concept. But over the last year, attention has been showered upon a TikTok video by board-certified dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe, where she demonstrates the benefits of a method she labeled “skin cycling.”

Skin cycling, a skincare method that disperses the use of active ingredients along a four-night routine, is reported to improve skin texture, clear skin, and enhance your skin’s hydration.

But what products does the skin cycling method include? In this guide, our Skin Health Experts are poring over the nitty gritty details and applying a few skincare tips and tricks, too.

Skin Cycling: A Trend With Staying Power

With a seemingly unending flood of new ingredients entering the market, it’s no wonder that people can become overwhelmed and use more skincare products than needed. However, applying a surplus of products on your face or stripping it of its natural oils can cause skin irritation, such as dry skin patches, blemishes, or flaking.

Fortunately, that’s precisely what skin cycling aims to solve.

Why is this? It’s due to the skin barrier, which is the outer layer of your skin, that shields you from infections and allergens. That said, skin cycling may help refresh, rejuvenate, and hydrate your skin to restore your skin barrier—and keep it intact for future nightime routines.

So, what is skin cycling? Skin cycling simplifies your nighttime routine by simplifying your skincare ingredients.

In other words, over the course of four nights, you’ll prioritize one (yes, just one) skincare staple. This process allows your skin to repair itself and hydrate in between treatments.

Most of us already do some sort of skin cycling without realizing it, which comes down to two main elements:

1) Rotating the application of skincare ingredients in a way that has a better impact on overall skin health

2) Factoring in a recovery period in which your skin can rest and repair the skin barrier

How to Skin Cycle

The recommended four-day skin cycling routine involves rotating ingredients that perform certain functions. It’s meant to be intuitive, so don’t overthink it—but it doesn’t hurt to follow a quick how-to:

  • Night One: Exfoliation – On the first night of your routine, use a gentle, alcohol-free cleanser, then rinse your face with lukewarm water, and pat, rather than scrub, it dry. After cleansing, use an ExfoliKate® treatment to minimize clogged pores and remove dead skin cells. Too much exfoliation can lead to irritation, but dispersing your exfoliation nights can support a glowing complexion.
  • Night Two: Retinoid – Retinoids can reduce the appearance of fine lines and stimulate your skin’s blood vessels. On night two, you’ll want to apply a pea-sized amount of the +Retinol Vita C Power Serum to your face, neck, and chest. Applying a high-quality retinol to your face (and only that) can help your skin drink in the potential benefits of retinol’s active ingredients to smooth skin texture and brighten your complexion.
  • Nights Three and Four: Recovery – On the last two nights of your skin care routine, give your skin a chance to breathe and avoid exfoliants and retinoids. Instead, prioritize cleansing and, most importantly, hydration, to help restore your skin barrier. Enrich your skin with a Goat Milk Moisturizing Cleanser or Goat Milk Cream to support supple, plump skin.

When it comes to skin cycling, consistency is encouraged. But, inflammation or irritation indicates that your skin may not be happy with your current routine. As such, put your skin first and adjust your skincare as needed to account for hormonal fluctuations and support healthy, beautiful skin.

How to Optimize Your Skincare Routine

The best skincare routine is the one that is tailored to your skin’s maturity, type, tone, and condition—and using products that are formulated for your complexion type can have a positive effect on your skin’s health. For example, while dry skin certainly benefits from moisturization, people with more oily skin may want to use a lighter moisturizer or serum during the routine’s recovery days.

To formulate a routine, your skin will love, take our Skin Care Quiz to create a personalized skincare regimen that addresses your skin care concerns and achieves your desired results with products that nourish your skin.

And, of course, no matter your skin type—normal, sensitive, dry, or oily—powerful sun protection can help protect your skin against sun damage and signs of aging.

Skin Cycle with Kate Somerville

With skin cycling, healthy skin is as easy as one, two, three…four. While the first two days are dedicated to skincare that refreshes and renews your skin, the last two hydrate and restore your skin barrier for a complexion with long-lasting shine.

At Kate Somerville, we specialize in luxurious skincare that nourishes and complements your skin—no matter your skin type. From moisturizing cleansers to hydrating creams, we provide a bevy of products to complete your skin cycling arsenal.

Discover a new you with Kate Somerville.


Dr. Whitney Bowe. Classic Skin Cycling: Why It’s Gone Viral and How to Do It. https://drwhitneybowebeauty.com/blogs/derm-scribbles/skin-cycling-dr-bowes-viral-beauty-editor-approved-skincare-method

American Academy of Dermatology Association. Face Washing 101. https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-basics/care/face-washing-101

National Library of Medicine. Skincare Bootcamp: The Evolving Role of Skincare. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5172479

Cleveland Clinic. Retinol. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/23293-retinol

Harvard Health Publishing/Harvard Medical School. Do retinoids really reduce wrinkles? https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/do-retinoids-really-reduce-wrinkles

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). Healthy Lifestyle Adult health: Skin care. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/basics/skin-care/hlv-20049421

Cleveland Clinic. Understanding Popular Skin Care Ingredients. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/skin-care-ingredients-explained

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sun Safety. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/skin/basic_info/sun-safety.htm

The Skin Cancer Foundation. Making Your Sunscreen Work With Your Makeup. https://www.skincancer.org/blog/making-sunscreen-work-makeup

National Library of Medicine. Understanding the Epidermal Barrier in Healthy and Compromised Skin: Clinically Relevant Information for the Dermatology Practitioner. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5608132/

Indian Journal of Medical Research. Skin Barrier Function. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5967208/

The Derm Review. Dr. Whitney Bowe Beauty Skin Cycling Review: A Results-Driven Routine Incepted From A Viral TikTok Video. https://thedermreview.com/dr-whitney-bowe-beauty-skin-cycling-review

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