SKIN CYCLING: THE KEY TO A HEALTHY SKIN BARRIER
When it comes to skincare, we often think, the more the better. Subconsciously, we assume that the more activities and treatments we apply, the better. While there’s nothing wrong with layering your skincare, rather it’s actually encouraged, applying a multitude of harsh exfoliants, intensive serums, acids and retinoids can potentially result in chronic, low-grade inflammation. This may cause an increase in sensitivity, breakouts and could even accelerate the aging process.
Giving your skin barrier enough time to recover is actually fundamental to the health of your complexion. If you experience inflammation and irritation regularly, it could be a sign that your skin barrier function is low. To replenish and heal the skin barrier, cue ‘skin cycling.’
THE SKIN BARRIER
Skin cycling as a concept has been evolving in the field of dermatology for several years, and it is not attributed to a single inventor. However, the strategic method of skin cycling has been popularized by New York-based, board-certified dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe. Dr. Bowe developed the method after years of treating patients and observing how their skin reacted to different skincare routines. She introduced skin cycling on TikTok where her post reached 2.2M views. Her book, The Beauty of Dirty Skin, goes into a deep dive on the importance of understanding the skin's microbiome, which is the ecosystem of microorganisms that live on and in our skin. She explains how a balanced microbiome is essential for healthy, vibrant skin and how traditional skin care practices, such as over-cleansing and using too many harsh products, can disrupt the skin's microbiome and lead to a range of skin problems.
By a trick of chemistry, our microemulsions of Serum and Beauty Elixir combine to create a loose emulsion. This creates the dewy look of the serum pulling the fatty acids of the Beauty Elixir into skin, while the Beauty Elixir appears to keep the serums from evaporating away. The result: the signature look of dewy, happy KYPRIS skin.
WHAT EXACTLY IS SKIN CYCLING?
So, essentially, ‘skin cycling’ refers to the process by which skin cells are continuously produced, mature and shed from the surface of the skin. This process is also known as the epidermal turnover rate or skin cell renewal. The skin cycle varies from person to person and can be influenced by factors such as age, genetics, lifestyle and environment. On average, the skin cycle takes about 28 days to complete.
Here is a simple overview of the skin cycle:
- Basal cell layer: This is the innermost layer of the epidermis where new skin cells are formed. The cells divide and move towards the surface.
- Spinous cell layer: As the cells move upwards, they become flattened and start to produce keratin, a protein that gives the skin its strength and flexibility.
- Granular cell layer: In this layer, the cells become filled with keratin and start to die off.
- Stratum corneum: This is the outermost layer of the epidermis and consists of dead skin cells that have shed from the surface.
As the skin cells shed from the surface, they are replaced by new cells from the basal cell layer, and the cycle starts all over again. This is essentially the process of skin cell regeneration, or skin cell renewal, and is what keeps our complexion healthy, smooth and youthful-looking.
HOW TO PRACTICE SKIN CYCLING?
The method involves following a four-night schedule:
Night 1: Exfoliation night
Night 2: Retinol night
Night 3: Recovery night
Night 4: Second recovery night before repeating the cycle.
This concept of alternating routines is actually quite natural and intuitive. It’s no different than cycling routines you most likely practice in other areas of life, such as a workout routine for example. You want to alternate working different muscle groups to allow time for recovery and growth. In the same way, skin cycling allows time for the skin to repair and strengthen between active product applications, preventing damage to the skin barrier that can result from using exfoliating acids and retinoids every day. Thus, using your skincare in a more strategic way & have your beloved products working smarter for you, not harder.
AN EXAMPLE SKIN CYCLING ROUTINE
Night 1: As one of our all time favorite, most effective, unique, exfoliating treatment products, we suggest going in with the Ayuna Essence. This is a soft, protein peel, gommage exfoliation mask formulated with alpha amino acids to give your skin a polished & baby-soft finish. This is the ultimate exfoliant and while it is gentle enough to use more often than once every four days, it makes for the perfect step in night one of the skin cycling routine.
Night 2: Aqua A by Leahlani is our current favorite pick for a really nourishing retinol product. Formulated with an ingredient called granactive retinoid, which is a more gentle, effective form of Vitamin A, this product gives you all the beautiful results without any of the harsh side effects. Infused with Vitamin C-rich Kakadu Plum Oil, you're getting a boost of antioxidants and brightening benefits as well.
Night 3 & 4: Rest & recovery. Here you’ll want to resume your usual, gentle and streamlined, evening skincare ritual which should include a cleanser, potentially an essence or toner, a Vitamin C (we love to use holi(c) in tandem with the holi(water)), a serum for hydration and added nutrients, plus a really good hydrator, whether that’s an oil or a moisturizer… or both. Don’t forget the eye cream!
Please note that this process can differ from person to person depending on your unique skin type, how tolerant your skin is to certain products and various other factors. This is not a one size fits all approach. You can adjust this general concept as you see fit to optimize your current rituals. The entire premise is that you are alternating your treatments while simultaneously allowing your skin to repair, rest and regenerate more effectively. Focusing on really nourishing hydration is always crucial, especially when you are using ingredients that tend to be a little harsher, such as acids and forms of retinol. So the two main takeaways are...
One, to focus on the restoration and overall health of your skin barrier. And two, whenever you’re using something that is formulated to regenerate skin cells, allow your skin to have a period of recovery, whatever that time frame means for you.
Have questions and want to nail down the perfect skin care routine that’s customized specifically for you? Let us guide you. We offer a variety of different consultation options, including a complimentary 15 minute video call. Sign up for yours on our site here!