LOOKING BACK: Why Skin Cycling Dominated Tik Tok in 2022

If skincare has been a longstanding concern and nothing seems to work, skin cycling might just be the redemption you need.

From a thousand-layer haircuts to cheerful eyebags, it seems like there’s nothing Tik Tok wouldn’t do in the name of beauty and skincare. What differs this bingeable microcosm of content from Instagram is the lack of replication, and perhaps, the ease of editing.

And of course, the fact that everything originates on TikTok, making it the Twitter of trends.

Of the many bizarre and beautiful hashtags to have emerged on the skincare spectrum, just one managed to garner a whopping 3.5 billion views. Contrary to being a typical Gen-Z weird and wacky method, it’s actually dermatologist originated and approved!

Presenting skin cycling, a phrase that was on heavy rotation this year.

Coined by Dr Whitney Bowe, it’s essentially the practice of avoiding overloading your skin with active ingredients. (For the uninitiated, that includes Retinol, Alpha-Hydroxy Acid (AHA), Hyaluronic Acid and Coenzyme Q10 to name a few.)



Skin cycling for beginners: how to get started. And how to layer with Bowe Glowe #skincycling #thatboweglow #dermatologist #skintok

♬ original sound – Dr. Whitney Bowe

So who does this work for?


Before gifting the world with skin cycling, TikTok became notorious for churning out ‘perfect skincare routines’.

From the right way to layer your products to the best products and what times to use it at, there’s no dearth of unlicensed self-proclaimed skin gurus on the application.

So this trend in particular is extremely handy for people looking for a more intuitive beauty practice. It’s about listening to your skin.

Feeling dry and irritated? Skip the active ingredients, increase oils and moisturisers. And rinse and repeat as needed!

People with sensitive skin, or skin conditions like acne or rosacea would benefit from the same too. Although it’s always worth consulting your doctor first!

If you’re a newbie to the world of retinol and such, skin cycling could be a good stepping stone. Conversely, if your regular usage seems to work just fine, don’t fix what’s not broken.


So, how do you do it?


A four-day cycle seems to be most popular, typically two nights of those pesky ingredients and two nights of rest. The idea here is that adopting a skin cycling routine can help prevent compromising the skin barrier due to overuse as much as ensuring a consistent routine.


Night one: Exfoliation

Cleanse, pat dry, followed by an exfoliating product. Dermats seem to be recommending leave-on cleansers over wash-offs. As for exfoliators, chemical ones containing ingredients like AHAs, BHAs and PHAs might be a better way to go!


Night two: Retinoid

This is the day to introduce the retinoids post cleansing. To prevent dryness and irritation on sensitive areas of the face, using a hydrating cream first is always recommended.


Nights three and four: Rest and Recover

These nights are all about ensuring skin hydration. On cleansed damp skin, apply generous amounts of serums containing ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerine and/or niacinamide. Follow up with a moisturiser.


The Final Word


If you think about it, skin cycling as a concept has always existed. Dermatologists have always championed intermittent or alternating use of active ingredients for healthier and less irritated skin.

So why is this beauty trend gaining traction now? Just like most things in the world, repackaging with a trendier name seemed to have work wonders. Or maybe 2022 has finally had people realise that just like our body, our skin needs rest too.


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