What is leather cycling? This is what happened when I tried it

OLDCaring for my skin has been a journey. After dealing with acne-prone skin as a teenager, I spent most of my 20s relying on YouTube education and 12-step regimens involving layering products and mixing acids. and vitamins with no effects combined. But thanks to TikTok’s emerging “skin cycling” approach, after years of doing the most work, I’ve finally found balance.

Keep scrolling to find out what makes the process so great and find out exactly what happened when I tried it myself.

What is leather cycling?

“Skin cycling is a deliberate and strategic approach to skin care,” explains Whitney Bowe, MD, board-certified dermatologist who invented the evening skincare routine. include working on your evening skin care routine to deliver results while minimizing irritation.

This method uses a four-night cycle: On night one, you exfoliate; on the second night, you use a retinoid; and on the third and fourth night, you allow your skin to recover. Then you start the process all over. The idea is that by breaking up your activities, you give your skin a chance to reap individual benefits while also giving it enough time to recover and reset. Your muscles need recovery days, your mind needs recovery days, so your skin will benefit from recovery days too, says Dr.

Considering how much conflicting information there is about the best way to apply ingredients, this simple method makes it easy for anyone to properly use different active ingredients without sensitizing their skin (which is what I think). This can happen if you use too many potent ingredients at once). “Especially on social media, the responses are all over the place, and as a result we are seeing irritated, angry skin,” says Dr. Bowe. “Rather than adding multiple products on top of each other, the peel cycle encourages you to strategically use products to complement each other.”

According to Dr. Bowe, it only takes two cycles — or eight days — to see results. “You can expect to see a healthier glow, and your skin will feel more hydrated and softer,” she says, adding that things will get better over time. time. “If you stick with skin care, over the next few months you’ll really see that change — when things like fine lines, wrinkles, acne, and dark spots can start to improve.”

@drwhitneybowe Skin cycling for beginners: how to get started. And how to layer with Bowe Glowe #skincycling #thatboweglow #dermatologist #skintok original sound – Dr. Whitney Bowe

Is leather cycling for everyone?

Skin cycling is great for any skin type, but since it includes “rest” days, it can be especially helpful for those with sensitive skin. “Skin Cycling is especially beneficial if you’re new to exfoliating serums, retinoids, have sensitive skin, or have a skin condition like rosacea,” says Dr. Bowe.

What happened when I tried cycling on skin

Night 1: Exfoliate

Traditionally, exfoliating is something I only do when my face is clogged or my makeup isn’t working properly. Now, a few weeks after riding a leather bike, that’s a non-negotiable.
“Approach chemical exfoliants instead of harsh physical exfoliants,” says Dr. Bowe. “This exfoliator gives your skin an immediate glow but also prepares you to make the most of Monday night, retinoid night.” She also recommends choosing exfoliants with a blend of acids rather than a single high concentration of acids, as they work more effectively, and recommends staying away from formulas that include olive oil and essential oils. I used the AHA Summer Friday Exfoliating Solution ($56), as it includes a blend of lactic acid, niacinamide, and glycolic acid, but Paula’s Choice and Sunday Riley also offer exfoliating options a great death that fits Dr. Bowe’s criteria.

“In addition to an exfoliator, you should apply a fragrance-free moisturizer specifically to help rebalance the skin’s microbiome and repair the skin barrier,” says Dr. Bowe. “You don’t want to use a product that’s too heavy or greasy because that can push the exfoliating acid into the skin and create unnecessary irritation.”

Night 2: retinoids

“Retinoids are one of the most powerful ingredients to include in your skin care routine, but if you use them too often or coat them with potentially irritating ingredients,” Dr. Bowe says. otherwise you won’t get optimal results. Guilty.

I’ve been using dermatologist-prescribed tretinoin — a topical retinoid that helps unclog pores and reduce the appearance of fine lines, discoloration, and uneven texture — for about a year. . At first it worked wonders, but eventually, my skin started to settle down and I didn’t see the same results. After just four cycles (where my retinoid use is limited to four days at a time), my skin looks visibly hydrated, radiant, and softer.

If you have sensitive skin, Dr. Bowe recommends applying a pre-retinoid moisturizer — especially around the eyes, corners of the nose, and mouth — to act as a buffer. And regardless of your skin type, apply a barrier-boosting moisturizer on top of your retinoid to make sure your skin stays hydrated.

Nights 3 and 4: recovery

Recovery nights were the hardest for me as I was so used to using active products as part of my evening routine. “Give your skin a chance to recover and focus instead on feeding your skin’s microbiome and repairing your skin barrier,” says Dr. Bowe.

Knowing the importance of hydration and moisture for recovery night, Dr. Bowe formulated his own alternative cream, Bowe Glowe, which has been clinically tested to confirm it can help repair skin barrier in just an hour, although she also recommends the following. If your skin needs extra moisture, she recommends using a lightweight oil like Indie Lee Squalane Facial Oil.


Over the past month, I’ve completed multiple rounds of the four-day cycling regimen and my skin has thanked me for it. With brighter, plumper skin, I find myself using less foundation and leaving my skin natural. I have also noticed that the wrinkles on my forehead have become less visible, and the amount of mild red acne on my cheeks has also decreased. At first, I found it very difficult to limit my products, especially to only using Tretinoin once every four days. But now it’s second nature and I feel more educated about the role and purpose of each product in the cycle. Skin cycling is the best thing I’ve done for my skin in a long time, and especially if your skin has settled down, I encourage you to try it for yourself too. You can thank me (but mostly Dr. Bowe) later.

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