Advanced Skin Cycling: 5 Tips To Level Up Your Routine

Thursday September 22, 2022
Advanced Skin Cycling: 5 Tips To Level Up Your Routine


With 3.5 billion views on TikTok, it’s clear that A LOT of you are Skin Cycling—I am still comprehending that number!

So what happens if you’ve mastered the Classic Skin Cycling routine? You breeze through exfoliation night, retinoid night, and your two recovery nights. You’ve completed at least two full cycles and you aren’t experiencing any stinging, burning, sensitivity, blotchiness, flaking or irritation. At this point, you have entered the Advanced Skin Cycling zone. PS: if you are seeing the mentioned conditions, these are signs that your skin barrier is not 100% healed, check out Gentle Skin Cycling.

Before I jump in, I want to be clear that Advanced Skin Cycling isn’t any “better” than the Classic method—they are both built on the fundamental philosophy of taking a “less is more” approach, making your skincare work harder and smarter for you. No skincare routine is one-size-fits-all. Advanced is one way to personalize your Skin Cycling routine if your skin can tolerate “push” products more frequently than the 2x I recommend in my Classic Skin Cycling method. Ultimately, the “best” skincare routine is intuitive and adapts to your unique skin needs. I most often use the Classic routine because it’s what my skin likes. You may even find yourself flexing between the Classic and Advanced Skin Cycling routine, especially based on the season.

If you think Advanced Skin Cycling is for you, here are five pro tips:

1. Stop buffering or “sandwiching” your retinoid. If you’ve been buffering your retinoid with a moisturizer or hydrating serum before layering your retinoid overtop, try applying the retinoid directly onto dry skin after you cleanse. This is going to deliver a more powerful form of that retinoid into your skin because you’ve taken away that protective layer that previously blocked some of your retinoid’s penetration.

2. Drop a recovery night. If you have invested in a retinoid that is supported by clinical studies, and your skin is not experiencing any irritation, then try dropping one recovery night. Your Skin Cycling routine now looks like this: Exfoliation Night, Retinoid Night, Recover, repeat.

Try the above for roughly two weeks. If you’re not experiencing irritation, but still have not met your skin goals in terms of fine lines, wrinkles, brown spots or breakouts, proceed to tip 3 below!

3. Add a 2nd retinoid night. Your Skin Cycling routine now looks like this: Exfoliation Night, Retinoid Night, Retinoid Night, Recovery Night, Repeat. If you experience any irritation or dryness after adding an additional retinoid night, go back to tip 2 to give your skin time to adjust.

4. Bump up the strength of your retinoid. If things are going well with two retinoid nights back-to-back, try bumping up the strength of your retinoid. If you’ve been using an over-the-counter product, look for a stronger version of that retinoid. If you’ve maxed out, then talk to your derm about getting a prescription strength retinoid. I personally can’t tolerate prescription strength retinoids even once a week, so if you go this route, I recommend starting the new retinoid using the Classic Skin Cycling method.

5. Bump up the power of your exfoliating product. If you’re cruising through your back-to-back retinoid nights, you can also explore using a more powerful product on exfoliation night. I still recommend chemical exfoliating products over harsh scrubs, and personally opt for a blend of exfoliating acids over a single acid. Specifically, I find that products containing both glycolic acid and salicylic acid are especially beneficial in terms of brightening and evening out skin tone over time. I reach for leave-on exfoliators since they tend to be more effective than rinse-off ones.

You can ultimately bump up the strength of BOTH your retinoid or exfoliating product, but I would stagger this type of leveling up. Too much of a good thing is not always a good thing, as Skin Cycling has proven!

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