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What is Skin Cycling and How to Incorporate Your Eyes



You may have seen this on social media – skin cycling is a thing. Coined by New York dermatologist, Dr. Whitney Bowe, skin cycling is a repeated routine of exfoliation, retinoids, and recovery. For example: Monday night you would exfoliate, Tuesday night you would use retinoids, and Wednesday & Thursday you would focus on recovery – where the focus is on hydration & skin barrier repair. This schedule is repeated or "cycled'" over and over again, and the result is healthy, glowing skin.

I have been skin cycling for a few months now and I love the results. Here I'll share what products I've been using for my face and how I also incorporated eye care into the "cycle."

 What is skin cycling? Exfoliation night.

EXFOLIATION NIGHT - this night preps the skin for retinoid night. Here I incorporate physical and chemical exfoliants to encourage the removal of the topmost dead skin cell layer from the eye area and face.

First I'll exfoliate my eye area as I'm removing my eye makeup (kills 2 birds, 1 stone kinda thing). I use Eyelid Scrub Mitt & Tea Tree Eyelid & Eyelash Foaming Cleanser for that gentle physical exfoliation .

Second, for my face (and neck), I've been using Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant in the gray bottle. My skin is pretty sensitive so I tend to apply this chemical exfoliant with a face oil. I do not apply any chemical exfoliate to the eye area because it's just too harsh.

 What is skin cycling? Retinoid Night.

RETINOID NIGHT - this night promotes cell turnover which addresses fine lines and wrinkles. With so many of my patients with dry eyes & MGD,  I tend to stay away from eye creams with retinoids. Instead, I use A.M. Eyelid Gel which contains a botanical mimicker of retinol – Moth Bean Extract. Always apply to the eyes before the face.

For my face (and neck) I use Paula's Choice 0.3% Retinol + 2% Bakuchiol Treatment in the purple bottle. This brand also makes a straight up 1% Retinol but I found it to be too strong and irritating. If your skin can tolerate the stronger stuff, why not? Again, make sure to avoid your eye area. Apply above the brow bone and below the zygomatic arch.

What is skin cycling? Recovery aka slug night.


RECOVERY NIGHTS - aka "SLUG" NIGHTS due to the products that are used to provide hydration via occlusion and cell barrier protection. They tend to feel thick and heavy because they are meant to be occlusive. If you have acne prone skin like I do, avoid the Vaseline and Aquaphor and pick a nice facial balm instead. You want to think of ingredients such as ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterols like oils and waxes. You will still get an occlusive effect to trap moisture in and prevent TEWL (Trans Epidermal Water Loss). 

For my eyes, I'm in love with P.M. Eyelid Butter – thick, heavy, and jam packed with ceramides, fatty acids, and cholesterol. It's ideal for SLUG NIGHTS – trapping in moisture and preventing TEWL, yippee! First, apply P.M. Eyelid Butter to the eyes. Next and for the face (and neck), I am currently loving and using Oak Essentials Moisture Rich Balm. Apply it all over for that "I just had a facial at the spa" lux feeling. 

On slug nights, don't be afraid to slather it on. I apply a thick layer of P.M. Eyelid Butter under my eyes and Oak Essentials Balm on my face & neck with no shame, haha. It feels like a splurge, but for self care - it's worth it. I'll usually stay up watching TV for about 60 minutes before bed so I don't leave a greasy mess on my pillowcase. Oh, and yes – I still need and have to wash the pillowcase everyday after SLUG NIGHTS. Percale for the win!

 What is skin cycling? What to expect.

I started to notice a glow after the 2nd skin "cycling" – so the results took about 10 days. Have fun and don't be afraid to experiment to find the right eye and face products to skin cycle with. Just don't forget that your eyelid skin is extremely thin and has different needs than your face and neck, so don't use the same products. What's great for the face isn't necessarily great for the eyelid skin. Happy skin and eye care cycling.

Love + Healthy Eyes, 

Dr Tanya Gill, xo