Does the skin cycle work? TikTok trending dermatologists stand ready

This four-night skincare routine was recommended by experts (Photo: Getty Images)

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We have all been there. You spend money on an expensive skincare routine and at first your skin loves it.

But a few months later, the effects seem to have worn off – or worse, you’re left with rashes and redness.

Well, that’s where the skin cycle comes in.

Simply put, the skin cycle is a four-night skincare routine, with each day serving a different purpose.

The goal is to give your skin some recovery time between treatments.

Rather than overloading the skin with too many active ingredients, you allow it to strengthen its natural barrier.

And, you give each ingredient time to work on the skin.

Invented by Dr. Whitney Bowe, the routine that went viral on TikTok followed a four-night cycle: exfoliation, retinoid and two nights of hydration. You keep your morning routine the same, but change it up in the evening, always making sure to moisturize to keep the skin hydrated.

Its success has been attributed to its effectiveness in managing blemishes, redness and uneven skin tone – what we all look for in a skincare routine.

And Charlotte Knight, founder of cruelty-free and vegan skincare brand, Skin Proud, says it’s a viral trend that actually works.

Charlotte says, “My favorite thing about the skin cycle is that it recognizes that your skin needs time to recover between what can be powerful active ingredients, these recovery nights are just as effective as retinol night or exfoliation to create healthy-looking skin.

“Plus, you can add eye creams as you see fit – they’re there for guidance and can be tailored to suit you best.”

Day 1: Scrub

The first night aims to get rid of any dead skin, as well as to prepare for the days to come, allowing the skin to be able to absorb the ingredients to come.

Acne-prone skin? Chemical exfoliants are the best.

And like every stage of the cycle, be sure to use a moisturizer afterwards to keep you hydrated, even if you have oily skin.

Charlotte suggests using Skin Proud’s Detox Tonic, a formula that aims to improve skin tone and texture.


“My skin was smooth and glowing”

We tried the skin cycle using cult favorite skincare, Drunk Elephant. Here’s how we got along…

“After a sudden burst of adult acne in my mid-twenties, I followed a basic skincare routine. Cleanser, moisturizer, and that was it.

“I’m always prone to blemishes, so the idea of ​​introducing new ingredients – and the skin cycle – was daunting to say the least.”

“Day one was exfoliation day, which meant using Framboos Glycolic TLC Night Serum before bed. I was a little nervous at the warning that it might cause “tingling,” but it was gentle, and I liked the idea that it was actually going to work on my face.

“The ingredient list includes glycolic, lactic and salicylic acid, while the raspberry extract aims to soothe the skin of any irritation caused by the acids. The serum is not greasy and penetrates quickly.

“I hydrated after using Protini Polypeptide Cream – their bestselling moisturizer. I had a bit of a false start when I couldn’t figure out how to get the product out (you push the lid down and the perfect amount comes out like magic) but I can confirm that I’m a huge fan.

“It’s a lightweight, creamy, protein-based moisturizer that promises to fight aging and treat signs of dull skin.

“The next morning, the combination of the two products left my skin smooth and visibly more radiant.

“Day two meant my first foray into retinol, using A-Gloei Maretinol Oil. is a gentle way to apply retinol to the skin without drying it out.

“However, after the first use I noticed a bit of flaking – but that’s probably because my skin was still adjusting to it. After cycling a few times, I think my face got used to it. I haven’t noticed any visible results yet, but the fact that I haven’t reacted is a big plus, and I’m confident.

“A warning to my fellow acne sufferers – this Retinol is an oil-based formula and seems to have kicked my blemishes into high gear. I can’t wait to try their A-Passioni Retinol instead, which is a cream.

“The last two days of the skin cycle involve cleaning everything up, cleansing and moisturizing. It was a welcome relief not to add more ingredients to my face, and the moisturizer is so lovely that you still feel like you’re giving your skin a treat – minus the serums.

‘If you fancy trying slugging, you can try the Wonderwild Miracle Butter on your moisturizing days.

“Since my first routine I have continued to cycle and my skin is definitely more glowing than before. So far (I am in cycle 4) I haven’t noticed a big improvement in terms of blemishes or fine lines, but I have high hopes.

“Of course, it’s no secret that Drunk Elephant comes at a price – for example, the 30ml retinol oil costs £63. But if you have the disposable income, they’re worth the hype.

Day 2: Retinol

We’ve probably all heard of retinol, even if we don’t really know what it is.

Derived from vitamin A, retinols are used to treat acne and to help improve pigmentation, fine lines and wrinkles.

Be warned: Retinol can be a potent product and it’s important to slowly increase the amount of product you use.

Charlotte says, “I would advise always starting with a lower concentration of retinol if you’re new to retinoid treatments and moving to a stronger treatment if you feel your skin needs improvement.”

She suggests using Skin Proud’s Gentle Retinol Recharge. She says, “Recharge is a gentle retinol serum that promotes cell turnover to achieve soft skin – without flaking or bleed.”

Day 3 & 4: Recovery

These nights are all about letting your skin rest – all you need to do is stick to the basics: cleanse and moisturize.

This gives your skin a chance to overcome any irritation caused by the previous two nights.

Just use gentle products to keep the skin hydrated.

And that’s all.

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