Understanding the Skin Cycle: A Dermatologist Guides You Through Enhancing Your Skincare Routine

Using multiple layers of skincare is like mixing chemicals in biology class: It's always a source of potential adverse reactions. If you've ever used too much retinol and left angry, irritated skin, you've experienced these pitfalls firsthand.



Skin circulation is a popular suggestion dermatologists have been giving to help you skip the sensitive middle and go straight to radiant, evenly hydrated skin. Read on to learn more about what skin circulation is and what experts say about how it works.


What is Skin Cycle? A skin cycle is a skin care routine where you only apply certain active ingredients on different nights (not mornings!) of the week. "This disperses the active ingredients, which reduces the risk of skin irritation," says Courtney Rubin, MD, co-founder and chief medical officer of Fig.


1 Skincare. (In case you didn't know, active ingredients are an umbrella term for effective skin Vitamin A, or hydroxy acids, improve skin cell turnover and exfoliation. Because of this, they are more likely to cause irritation—burning, burning, dryness, redness, flaking—over or misuse.)


Skin circulation also has "rest days" where active ingredients are completely excluded and hydrated and skin barrier repair are prioritized. Benefits of skin circulation. According to Jenny Liu, MD, a board-certified dermatologist with Banana Boat, dermatologists have been practicing skin circulation for "years."

It's a time-tested practice because "it allows you to benefit from synergistic ingredients that improve skin tone and texture while reducing irritation so you can use it more consistently," she explains.


Rubin adds that Skin Cycle is especially beneficial for people with extremely sensitive skin who haven't had success using active ingredients in other ways.


What is a good skin circulation routine? A full cycle takes four days, Rubin explains, "often one night with a tretinoin, another night with an acid exfoliator, and then two nights without harsh ingredients," she says.

A night of rest includes a simple cleanser, toner and moisturizer to rejuvenate the skin. After a few days of rest, the cycle starts again.

Skin Cycle Side Effects and Risks. The benefit of skin recirculation is that it minimizes most of the potential side effects of an exfoliating skincare routine, says Dr. ruby.


"Compared to using these ingredients every night of the week, they can significantly reduce the risk of skin irritation, burning, stinging or flaking," she adds.


In this context, Dr. Liu adds that forgetting what night of the week it is and using the wrong products can lead to allergies. This is especially true if you already have sensitive or eczema-prone skin and might still not be able to tolerate using a scrub twice a week.


If this is the case for you, you can use retinoids for a few weeks to allow your skin to adjust before using chemical peels, or vice versa.


Should I try skin circulation? How skin circulation works for you depends on how responsive your skin is. If you're not already using powerful actives on a regular basis, this can be a great, low-risk way to introduce them into your routine.




However, if you already have a good habit that doesn't irritate you, then this may not be necessary. It's best to consult your dermatologist for customized recommendations, especially if you have sensitive skin.




Skin circulation products. The four main components of skin circulation (besides a good cleanser of course) are: Retinoids – whether prescription retinoid creams or store-bought retinol serums. chemical peels, such as lactic, glycolic, or salicylic acid




Nourishing, Repairing Moisturizer Sunscreen (The active ingredients make your skin more susceptible to sun damage, so it's crucial to use sunscreen every morning, says Dr. Liu.) It really is that simple. So next time you feel like slathering all your serums, lotions, and potions all over your face in one go, stop and give SkinCycle a try. Check out product recommendations below from Dr. Ruby and Liu an and — who knows, a little more speed might be the easy answer to your stubborn skincare woes.

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