Classic Skin Cycling: Why It's Gone Viral and How to Do It

Thursday August 11, 2022


Skin Cycling, a thoughtful, strategic method for cycling through your nightly skincare products to drive the best results, has gone totally viral. It has 3.5 billion views and counting on TikTok, has been covered by the press, and has even gone global—I’m trying to keep up!

How did a concept that was inspired by my dermatology patients take on a life of its own, and empower so many people across the world? My take is that:

(a) It works, and is a game-changer for your skin’s health.

(b) The world of skincare has become overly complicated, Skin Cycling helps to streamline your skincare routine in a way that’s both effective and easy to follow.

(c) It solves one of the MOST COMMON mistakes people make when it comes to their skin. Let’s dive into this last point.

I've treated thousands of patients for over a decade as a dermatologist, and I find that one of the top mistakes people make when it comes to their skincare is that they don't build in nights for their skin barrier to recover.

People were taking a kitchen sink approach to their skincare, mixing and matching ingredients that simply don’t play well together in the sandbox! There’s also been a huge focus on ingredient-specific products, looking at percents of each active, with a “more is better” obsession. People were experiencing irritation, red blotches, or thinking their skin was just “purging” for months at a time, but it was because they were using too many products, at too high concentrations, many of which just don’t work well together on the skin.

That’s why I developed a strategic, streamlined evening skincare routine I call Skin Cycling, with skin barrier optimization in mind. Skin Cycling takes a “less is more” approach, being thoughtful and deliberate about your skincare routine. Rather than adding more products on top of one another, Skin Cycling encourages you to use products in a strategic way to compliment one another.

The concept is very intuitive. Your muscles need recovery days, your mind needs recovery days, so it makes sense that your skin also benefits from recovery days. Think about it, if you are trying to build strength in a particular muscle group, say your leg muscles, you don’t just load those muscles every single day with heavy weights, that leads to injury, not strength. You may focus on your upper body one day, and your lower body the next, deliberately building in time for those muscle fibers to repair and grow stronger between sessions. For those of you who don’t work out, think about your work week and how valuable it is to take a little downtime to decompress over the weekend so you can hit the ground running again on Monday. The same holds true for your skin.

Here’s how to Skin Cycle, to get MORE out of your skincare, making your skincare products work smarter and harder for you.


Night 1: Exfoliation Night
I opt for chemical exfoliating products over harsh physical scrubs. No gritty scrubs you can feel between your fingers. A chemical exfoliating serum can give your skin an immediate glow, plus preps you to get the most out of night 2. Exfoliation Night™ Resurfacing + Brightening Serum is specifically formulated to push your skin outside its comfort zone, driving clinically-proven results on night 1 of your Skin Cycling routine, without harming the delicate skin barrier.

Night 2: Retinoid Night
Retinoids are one of the powerful ingredients to include in your Skin Cycling routine. Some people can tolerate a retinoid more frequently than others. However, most people find that if they use them too frequently, or layer them with other potentially irritating ingredients, they end up with irritation rather than results. 

Night 3 + Night 4: Recovery Nights
Hold off on the exfoliating acids and retinoids and give your skin a chance to RECOVER. On recovery nights, you want to focus on nourishing your skin microbiome and repairing your skin barrier—think hydration and moisture. I developed Bowe Glowe™ Microbiome Nourishing Cream to work with every night of your Skin Cycling routine, but especially for Recovery Nights to give your skin the hydration and barrier repair it needs. In fact, it has been clinically-proven to help repair the skin barrier in just one hour!* We know this because independent labs clinically-tested Bowe Glowe™ Cream’s final formula using an instrument called a Tewameter to measure “transepidermal water loss” (TEWL), or how much water is evaporating from the surface of the skin.

Then REPEAT, so it’s Exfoliation Night, Retinoid Night, Recover, Recover, Exfoliation Night, Retinoid Night, Recover, Recover.

After two cycles, any blotchiness or sensitivity should be much better. You can expect to see a more healthy glow, and radiance to your skin. Skin should overall look and feel more hydrated, and softer. If you stick with Skin Cycling, over the next few months you’ll really see that transformation—that’s when things like fine lines, wrinkles, breakouts and dark spots can start to improve.

The classic Skin Cycling routine (4 night cycle) works incredibly well for individuals with sensitive skin, like me! I want to see results from my skincare, but I really want to dial down the irritation that happens when I overuse powerhouse ingredients like exfoliating acids or retinol. The beauty of Skin Cycling is that you can personalize it for your skin’s needs. If you have extra sensitive skin, or are new to using powerful skincare actives, Gentle Skin Cycling may be for you. If your skin can tolerate powerful actives, you can explore Advanced Skin Cycling. No format is "better" than the other—the "best" approach is the one your skin loves most.

If you haven’t already, I’m so excited for you to get Cycling!

*Based on an independent clinical study of 20 subjects using Bowe Glowe™. Subjects were evaluated for transepidermal water loss (TEWL) at the 1 hour time point (Tewameter®).
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Skin Cycling Program
Outer Skincare
Exfoliate + Firm + Hydrate + Barrier Recovery
$149 $199
Bowe Glowe
Outer Skincare
Microbiome Nourishing Cream
$71 $95
Asta C
Outer Skincare
Vitamin C Age Defense Serum
$66 $88
Exfoliation Night
Outer Skincare
Resurfacing + Brightening Serum
$59 $79