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Skin Cycling: The TikTok Trend Changing The Skincare Industry – Is It Worth the Hype?

TikTok has rapidly become the go-to platform for discovering the latest trends in beauty and skincare. One such trend that has taken the platform by storm is 'skin cycling'. But what exactly is skin cycling? Is it a legitimate practice, and if so, what products make the most sense to include in a skin cycling routine? As a leading B2B makeup manufacturer and private label company, Colorlab is here to dissect this trend and help you understand its implications for the skincare industry.

What is Skin Cycling?

Skin cycling is a skincare approach that focuses on strategically applying and alternating skincare products with "rest" days in between to optimize their benefits and minimize irritation. The concept revolves around using active ingredients in a planned routine that typically spans over four nights, with the first night dedicated to exfoliation, the second night to applying retinoids, and the third and fourth nights for recovery or rest.

The idea behind skin cycling is to give the skin a chance to repair and recover from the effects of potent ingredients like exfoliants and retinoids. By allowing the skin to rest and recuperate, the risk of irritation and inflammation is reduced, and the overall health of the skin is improved. This approach also promotes a more strategic use of skin care products rather than piling them on top of each other, which can sometimes lead to negative reactions.

Skin cycling has recently gained popularity due to the growing awareness of the importance of rest and recovery in skincare. The catchy name "skin cycling" and its presence on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram have further fueled its popularity. The trend highlights the need for a more thoughtful and balanced skincare routine, as opposed to simply using more products or ingredients.

Evaluating the Legitimacy of Skin Cycling

So that all sounds great, but does this TikTok trend actually hold any legitimacy? According to dermatologists, yes. Skin cycling can indeed be beneficial for many people, particularly those with sensitive skin or those looking to introduce potent ingredients like exfoliants and retinoids into their routines. The concept of alternating and giving rest days to the skin is supported by dermatologists, who have been recommending intermittent or alternating use of active ingredients for a long time.

Skin cycling can help repair the skin barrier, reduce the negative side effects of certain products, and protect the skin against seasonal issues. However, it's important to note that the effectiveness of skin cycling may vary depending on individual skin types and conditions. It may not be necessary for those who already have a well-tolerated, established skincare routine with potent ingredients.

Essential Products for a Skin Cycling Routine

In a skin cycling routine, various products are incorporated to target specific concerns and maintain overall skin health. Key products to include in a skin cycling regimen are retinoids, exfoliants, serums and treatments, and moisturizers. Each product is crucial in addressing different skin issues and should be used strategically to maximize its benefits.


Retinoids are derivatives of vitamin A, which are known for their effectiveness in reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and acne. They help promote cell turnover and improve skin texture. In a skin cycling routine, retinoids are typically applied on the second night of the cycle. It is important to cleanse and pat dry the skin before application. If your skin is sensitive, you can apply a moisturizer around sensitive areas before applying the retinol. After application, you can apply a moisturizer on top of the retinol to help reduce dryness and irritation.


Exfoliants are essential for removing dead skin cells from the surface layer of the skin, which allows other skincare products to penetrate more deeply and work more effectively. In a skin cycling routine, exfoliants are typically used on the first night of the cycle. Chemical exfoliants, such as glycolic acid or salicylic acid, are preferred over physical scrubs because they tend to be gentler on the skin. To use an exfoliant effectively, cleanse your skin, pat it dry, then apply it, followed by a moisturizer.

Serums and Treatments

Serums and treatments are concentrated, concern-specific products that target particular skin issues, such as hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone, or dehydration. These products usually contain active ingredients that work synergistically with the other products in your skin cycling routine. In a skin cycling regimen, serums and treatments can be applied during the recovery nights (nights 3 and 4) before moisturizing to provide added nourishment and support skin barrier repair. Ensure you choose a serum or treatment that addresses your specific skin concerns like our Time Bombs or Skin Infusions.


Moisturizers are essential in any skincare routine, and in a skin cycling regimen; they help provide hydration and support the skin barrier. Opt for a fragrance-free ointment or cream, as suggested by the American Academy of Dermatology like any of our Colorlab moisturizers. Moisturizers should be applied every night in the skin cycling routine, regardless of the other products being used. During recovery nights, cleanse your skin and apply a moisturizer on damp skin to lock in hydration. You may also use a hydrating serum before moisturizing for added benefits.

Tips for Implementing a Skin Cycling Routine

Developing a skincare routine tailored to your unique needs is essential for maintaining healthy, radiant skin. To achieve this, it's crucial to assess your skin's specific requirements, gradually introduce new products, and monitor your skin's response to the changes you make. Here are a few tips to help you create an effective and personalized skincare routine.

Assessing Your Skin’s Unique Needs

Start by identifying your skin type, which could be normal, dry, oily, combination, or sensitive. This will help you choose the right products for your skin. Next, determine your primary skin concerns, such as acne, signs of aging, pigmentation, or dehydration. By understanding your skin's needs, you can select the most suitable products and create a targeted skincare routine.

Slowly Introduce New Products

When adding new products to your skincare routine, it's essential to introduce them gradually to minimize the risk of irritation or adverse reactions. Start by patch-testing a small amount of the product on your inner forearm or behind your ear to ensure you don't have an allergic reaction. If no reaction occurs after 24 hours, you can begin incorporating the product into your routine. Add one new product at a time and wait at least a week before introducing another to observe how your skin responds.

Monitor Skin Response

As you incorporate new products, pay close attention to how your skin reacts. If you notice any redness, irritation, or breakouts, discontinue the product and consult a dermatologist if necessary. Remember that your skin may take some time to adjust to new products, so be patient and give it at least a month to see visible improvements. Your skin's needs may change over time due to factors like aging, climate, and hormonal fluctuations. Regularly reassess your skin and make adjustments to your routine as needed. Don't hesitate to consult with a dermatologist or skincare professional for guidance on the best products and practices for your evolving skincare needs.

Closing Thoughts

In summary, skin cycling is a skincare practice that involves rotating products within your routine to address various skin concerns and prevent over-exposure to certain ingredients. To build an effective skin cycling routine, it's essential to include retinol, exfoliants, serums and treatments, and moisturizers to target different skin needs. To create a personalized skincare routine, start by assessing your skin type and concerns, researching appropriate products and ingredients, introducing new products slowly, and monitoring your skin's response to changes. Remember to adjust your routine as needed and consult a dermatologist or skincare professional for guidance. By following these tips, you can develop a tailored skincare routine that promotes healthy, radiant skin.

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