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Skin cycling: What is it and how do you do it?

Curious about the skin care trend that’s taken over social media for months? Let’s dive in.

Derms, aestheticians and all your besties at Ulta Beauty agree: If any viral skin care trends are worthy of your attention, it’s this one. Skin cycling has taken the world by storm thanks to its ability to strategically max out active skin care formulas while still protecting and soothing your moisture barrier. That means, you get the best possible results, with the least possible irritation. it's a win win with no catch. Interested? Keep reading.

What is skin cycling?

If a recent scroll has left you wondering how to skin cycle, you’re in the right place. The short answer is this: Skin cycling is a 4-day cycle that strategically plans out when you should exfoliate, when you should use retinol and when you should give your skin a little break. It's designed to help you use products exactly when your skin needs them and is ready for them, for the maximum, glow-boosting results. We'll break it down a bit more in case you want to give it a try. (And you should—it works!)

Every day of the cycle: Cleanse

Every AM and every PM, wash your face with a gentle cleanser to remove dirt, grime and makeup. (Don’t forget to moisturize and use SPF in the morning.)

Night 1 only: Exfoliate

Think of this as a prep step. When you exfoliate, you remove dead skin cells (we reco you do this with chemical exfoliants), which helps all your other products have the best chance to soak in and work even better. Bonus: It keeps your texture smooth and even.

Night 2 only: Retinol

A derm-fave for a reason. Retinol speeds up cell turnover and triggers collagen production, helping to soften fine lines, dark spots and more. Apply a thin layer of your favorite retinol treatment after cleansing, then top with moisturizer.

Night 3-4: Moisturize

A soothing little skin vacay. On nights 3 and 4, give your skin some time to chill from topicals. This helps to minimize irritation (because even the gentlest retinol products can cause some sensitivity) and let it build up tolerance. That means keep it simple with just moisturizer.

Then, repeat! Hope this cheat sheet helps answer “what is skin cycling?!” for you. If you’re ready to give it a try, swing by our Love Your Skin event to load up on all the skin cycling products you need to master the trend, make it yours and get glowing.

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