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All you need to know about skin cycling

  • 4 min read

Trending skincare and beauty products are almost exclusively brought to life on TikTok and Instagram. From slugging and sunscreen contouring to the red nails theory and pore vacuums, social media is the home of new and innovative beauty and skincare techniques as well as damaging ones. While there have been some questionable skin trends in the past – hello, sunscreen contouring – we’re all in for skin cycling. 

Whether you want to learn how to look after your skin more effectively or help your skin weather the storm of changing conditions and free radicals, skin cycling could become your new best friend. 

What is skin cycling?

Skin cycling refers to the ways in which skincare products are used, not using your products while taking part in a spin class! This term encompasses the actual products that are used, how frequently they are used and the combinations of active ingredients that are layered on top of one another. 

By only using products such as face masks or exfoliators on certain days, you’re already halfway to skin cycling bliss. By giving your skin ‘rest days’ in between using certain products, your skin is able to repair itself. This ultimately prevents you from damaging and irritating your skin by using several active ingredients together that don’t mix well.

As a natural, vegan and B-corp certified brand, it’s obvious that we believe less is more – you don’t need to add layers upon layers of products in order to give your skin some love. Layering too many products and using active ingredients too frequently can cause damage to the skin’s natural barrier.

Skin cycling products: what to use

The main products that are used in skin cycling are: exfoliants, retinoids and moisturisers. These three types of products are prioritised on different days allowing each to work properly – without risking the health of your skin barrier. 

We always recommend that you stick to natural products wherever possible so you know exactly what you’re adding into your skincare routine. Remember that one of the goals of cycling skincare is to simplify your routine while also preventing excessive irritation and damage from active skincare ingredients, so keep it as minimal as possible.

For your exfoliator, opt for an organic face scrub such as our Coffee Face Scrub, which is formulated for different skin types: Citrus Blend for dry skin, Floral Blend for sensitive skin, or Herbal Blend for acne-prone skin. This is 100% vegan and cruelty-free, using upcycled coffee grounds.

When it comes to retinoids like retinol or tretinoin, there are natural alternatives that can be used. Bakuchiol has long been hailed as a great natural alternative to retinol, as well as oils such as rosehip and carrot seed. 

Another option is to use pro-retinol rather than retinol, which can be found in our intensely moisturising Night Cream with Hyaluronic Acid in the upcycled blueberry extract.

Your ultimate skin cycling routine

Now you know what skin cycling actually is and the different types of products and ingredients that you can cycle, it’s time to talk about how to skin cycle. It can be daunting at first, but with a little know-how, you’ll soon be a master at cycling skin care products. 

We’ve brought together our favourite skin cycling routine to keep your skin healthy all year round. This routine uses a four day skin cycle with days one and two being ‘active’ days and days three and four being ‘rest days’. 

1. Exfoliators – night one

On the first night of your four day skin cycle, the focus is on exfoliation and preparing your skin for night two. In order to get the most out of your exfoliation routine, ensure you have cleansed away the day first. 

  • Cleanse – use a vegan, cruelty free cleanser that is packed full of natural ingredients, antioxidants and vitamins. Massage onto the skin in upward circular motions and remove with a warm, damp cloth to reveal a clearer, brighter complexion. 
  • Exfoliate – gently exfoliate your skin with a natural face scrub formulated for your skin type. Apply the scrub to a damp face in gentle circular motions. Leave on for a few moments, then rinse with warm water and pat dry.
  • Tone – spritz the face with an anti-inflammatory toner.

After these essential steps, continue with your usual nighttime skincare routine, remembering to avoid using any harsh chemicals or retinoids. Stick to quality organic skincare and remember to take a few mindful moments as you complete your routine. 

2. Retinoids – night two

On the second night of your four day skin cycle, the focus is on using a retinoid. It’s so important not to exfoliate your skin again on day two, as that can cause damage to your skin barrier and leave it feeling irritated. 

  • Cleanse – use a palm-oil free soap bar that purifies your skin, while also soothing redness. Apply with water to create a creamy lather on the skin, then wash off.
  • Use retinol – apply your favourite retinol. For a natural alternative to retinol, consider products containing bakuchiol, rosehip oil or carrot seed oil. 
  • Moisturise – smooth a hydrating vegan moisturiser on the face. Our Night Cream with Hyaluronic Acid and Niacinamide also includes rosehip oil so is perfect for the job.

Don’t layer too many products after using a retinoid – and stick to natural and non-comedogenic ones. 

3. Rest and hydration – nights three and four

Nights three and four are all about providing your skin with a huge boost of moisture and letting the steps from days one and two work their magic. 

  • Cleanse – use a fragrance-free cleanser that's gentle on the skin. 
  • Eye cream – dab a tiny amount of nourishing eye cream under the eyes and over the eyelids.
  • Moisturise – apply an unscented moisturiser to help replenish the skin. 
  • Serum – smooth a few drops of an organic oil-based serum packed with skin-loving ingredients over the skin and massage in.

Browse our full range of vegan and cruelty free skincare at UpCircle. You can find out more about the ingredients we lovingly upcycle into skincare here.