If you have sensitive skin, you’re in good company—I do too! People with rosacea or eczema have sensitive skin, but really anyone who describes their skin as reactive or easily irritated can fall into this category. Sensitive skin can be a diva, but it is actually very amenable to Skin Cycling and tends to respond incredibly well to our classic 4 night routine: Exfoliation Night, Retinoid Night, Recovery Night, Recovery Night.
My 6 tips for Gentle Skin Cycling for sensitive skin:
On Exfoliation Night:
TIP 1: Be mindful about your response to the product you are trying. If you experience any burning, wash your exfoliating serum off immediately. Slight tingling is okay, but isn’t necessary in order to see real results over time. You do not need to feel your exfoliating serum working, so that can be a red flag, particularly if you have sensitive skin. Our Exfoliation Night™ Resurfacing + Brightening Serum is expertly formulated for night 1 of your Skin Cycling routine, and is powerful yet gentle enough for all skin types.
TIP 2: Always remember to layer a soothing, nourishing product on top of your exfoliating serum to rebalance your skin microbiome and repair your skin barrier. I use Bowe Glowe™ Microbiome Nourishing Cream. Don’t slug on exfoliation night, meaning I do not recommend applying petrolatum/petroleum jelly or mineral oil over your exfoliating serum. It can drive acids into the skin in an unpredictable way, increasing irritation.
On Retinoid Night:
TIP 3: Start with a gentle OTC retinol or retinal rather than a prescription strength retinoid.
TIP 4: Use a fragrance-free moisturizing cream like Bowe Glowe™ Microbiome Nourishing Cream around the most sensitive areas—such as your eye area, smile lines, chin, or neck—prior to applying your retinoid. This can help serve as a buffer or barrier, protecting these sensitive areas from the powerful retinoid, especially while your skin is adjusting. Don’t worry, little bits will still get through, and you can always graduate to using the moisturizer on TOP of those products after your skin adjusts. You can also apply another layer of your moisturizer on top if your skin tends to be dry, something called the “sandwich” technique.
General Skin Cycling tips:
TIP 5: If you’re new to powerful actives such as AHA, PHA, BHA, or retinoids, introduce new products one at a time. Nights 1 and 2 are what I like to call “push” nights. So, start with one “push” night followed by 3 recovery nights. The cadence would look like this: Exfoliation night, recover x 3, exfoliation night, recover x 3. Try this for 2-3 weeks. If you find that your skin is doing well (you are not experiencing irritation, burning, stinging, peeling), then add the retinoid night and begin to follow the classic 4 night Skin Cycling method.
TIP 6: Avoid fragrance. If your nose loves a product, your skin probably won’t. That goes for both synthetic fragrance as well as many natural ones, including essential oils. Pleasant smelling ingredients, be they natural or synthetic, are one of the most common causes of skin reactions in sensitive skin.