November 21,
Photo of woman applying Advanced Night Repair Serum in skin cycling routine

TikTok is a space where millions of creators share makeup and skincare advice, and it can be hard to know which trends are worth trying and those to skip. When dermatologist-backed skincare trends generate buzz, it immediately makes us think about our entire beauty routines.

So is the case for “skin cycling”, a nighttime skincare routine that’s blown up on social media (did we mention that the routine has over 3.5 billion views on TikTok?).

So what is skin cycling, and how can you try it in your routine? Read on to discover everything you need to know about skin cycling and how to curate your skin cycling routine with Estée Lauder products. You’ll definitely want to have your Advanced Night Repair Serum on deck.

What is skin cycling?

Skin cycling may sound complicated, but it’s actually based on a less-is-more approach that helps you achieve healthy-looking skin and protect your skin’s barrier. To start, you’ll follow a four-day evening routine with one key type of product designated for each night.

The skin cycling rotation begins with exfoliation on the first night, followed by retinol on the second. The third and fourth nights are dedicated to recovery with skin barrier-protecting serums and moisturisers. Then, the cycle repeats.

What are the benefits of skin cycling?

Products like exfoliants and retinol can do a number on the look and feel of your skin when they’re overused (think irritation, dryness and dullness). Skincare cycling with these products throughout the week can help you avoid over-exfoliation and protect your skin barrier.

Skin cycling routines can also be customised based on skin type or concerns by switching up application schedules and products. This allows for a healthier glow and radiant skin while supporting your natural skin barrier.

Want a complete skin cycling routine breakdown? Here’s our recommendation for curating your own four-day “cycle” with some fan-favourite Estée Lauder skincare picks.

What is the best skin cycling routine?

While a skin cycling routine is very personal, it’s important to follow a similar order as the below recommendation, given that it staggers how often you’re applying strong, active ingredients and allowing your skin’s barrier to rest.

Night 1: Exfoliation

This is the preparation phase for your next night of active ingredients. Kick off your skin cycling routine with an exfoliating formula to help minimise the look of your pores, buff away dull or rough skin, and prep your face to receive the benefits from the rest of your products throughout the cycle. First, cleanse your face and make sure it’s 100% dry. Then, apply your chosen exfoliating product. One of our favourites for this step is the Perfectly Clean Multi-Action Foam Cleanser/Purifying Mask.

Night 2: Retinol

The star of night two of skin cycling, retinol, is a common yet powerful form of vitamin A that can accelerate skin renewal and, over time, help reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles. If you haven’t used retinol before, it is a strong product that can cause irritation. Be sure to use a good SPF product during the daytime when using retinol in your skin cycling routine. Like night one, cleanse and dry your face completely before using your retinol. Then, apply a retinol formula. We love Perfectionist Pro Rapid Renewal Retinol Treatment.

Nights 3 & 4: Recovery

On nights three and four, focus solely on recovery with your serum and moisturiser. Key ingredients for this skin cycling step include hyaluronic acid and niacinamide for hydration. After cleansing, apply Advanced Night Repair Serum and gently smooth it all over your face. Our #1 serum strengthens the skin barrier in just four hours. Follow with Revitalizing Supreme+ Night Creme.

What should your morning routine be during skin cycling?

While a skin cycling routine is all about using different products each night, your morning routine should be more streamlined. Try a consistent morning routine featuring four simple products: cleanser, vitamin C serum, moisturiser and SPF.

Begin your routine with a cleanser like Perfectly Clean Multi-Action Foam Cleanser/Purifying Mask, followed by a vitamin C serum like Perfectionist Pro Rapid Brightening Treatment. Next, layer on a daytime moisturiser like Revitalizing Supreme+ Youth Power Creme.

Does skin cycling work?

Skin cycling has been tried and tested by dermatologists, and it is effective if done correctly. However, it’s important to remember that everyone’s skin is different, and it can take a few cycles for your skin to adjust. You may also experience purging. Test out different products and cater your skin cycling routine to your skin.

How long should I do skin cycling?

Depending on how your skin reacts to the method, your skin cycling routine can be modified and repeated over time. Otherwise, it can be used as a skin reset, keeping in mind consistency with products and routine is key to seeing results.