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Skin Cycling Is All The Exercise You’re Going To Need This Week

Skin Cycling Is All The Exercise You’re Going To Need This Week

Though the Internet sizzles with skin-related advice, many aren’t backed by dermatologists. A dermatologist once told me that one of her patients had decided to apply a clove of garlic to treat a zit on her face courtesy of a video she chanced upon on YouTube — she woke up to an ulceration of the pimple as well as the skin around the pimple because the garlic had slipped, and, therefore, affected a larger area of the face. That’s why you should always approach the Internet with a sense of skepticism.

This one’s different though. Didn’t you hear already? NY-based dermatologist Dr. Whitney Bowe has devised a four-night regimen that enables you to reap the benefits of actives like Retinol without sending your skin into overdrive. Right? No Retinol-induced side-effects anymore. But how? Here’s what you need to know about ‘cycling’ your skin.

What Does Skin Cycling Even Mean?

Her routine includes alternating between employing actives into your routine for two days straight before allowing the skin a two-day breather right after. You exfoliate on the first day; apply Retinol on the next; and devote the last two days to recovery and repair — and you start over on the 5th day.

Night One

Exfoliation rids your skin of dead-cell build-up, and reinstates your radiance. This process enables formulas to absorb into your skin effectively — along with improving texture, treating pigmentation, and more. Dr. Bowe favours chemical-based exfoliators instead of scrubs and granules. You must cleanse your skin before sloughing off build-up, and conclude with a dollop of moisturiser to seal in hydration. You can use AHAs to exfoliate dry or ageing skin. Since AHAs (like Glycolic Acid and Lactic Acid) are humectants, they draw moisture into your skin. For oil-prone or acne-prone skin, Dr. Bowe suggests BHAs (Salicylic Acid). Since these acids render your skin photosensitive, make sure you’re not using too much, and layering a sunscreen onto your skin during the day to avoid sun-induced damage.

She advises us against the application of Retinol on the same night as exfoliation. Since the latter maximises absorption, you might find that the Vitamin A derivative is plunging too deep into your skin, and leading to inflammation and redness. Stick to moisturisers and creams instead.

Night Two

This night is all about leveraging the benefits of wrinkle-guzzling Retinol. Use a pea-sized drop of the formula post cleansing, and conclude with a moisturiser. Since Retinol is associated with a number of side-effects, ensure you’re not overindulging, and allowing your skin to acclimate to the product instead. Remember that this formula is not day-friendly, and mustn’t be used in conjunction with exfoliants.

Think of it like this. Retinol is like your neighborhood Alpha Male — he’d go to any degree to protect you, and prove his prowess to the (in this case — skincare) world. But like every other alpha, though, you might realise that Retinol is…toxic (sometimes). And this anti-ageing elixir’s toxicity manifests as redness, irritation, inflammation, peeling, and more. That explains why Dr. Bowe suggests keeping a gap of four days between Retinol application.

Here’s a side-note: if you’re pregnant or lactating, steer clear of this formula. According to Dr. Madhuri Agrawal, “Retinol must be avoided during pregnancy, and by mothers who are lactating. A couple of studies attest to the fact that it can cause birth-defects and spinal-cord abnormalities in a developing foetus, and it has been linked to concerns such as premature deliveries and miscarriages too. Retinol must be avoided during breastfeeding too — as it can be absorbed by the baby, and cause developmental problems similar to the ones caused during pregnancy. While there are no definitive studies proving or disproving the negative effects of retinol in breastfeeding, it is advisable to avoid it.”

Night Three + Night Four

These nights are centred around pampering and nourishing your skin via hydration. Dr. Bowe says, “If you keep using irritating actives every night, you end up with low-grade chronic inflammation that can accelerate signs of aging and lead to breakouts.” She starts off by cleansing her face — after which she suggests massaging a Hyaluronic Acid or Glycerin-spike serum onto the face (make it damp for better absorption), and sealing it all in which a gentle, non-irritating moisturiser.

What’s The Logic Anyway?

This regimen allows your skin to recover for two whole nights. It’s a deliberate and intentional approach to skincare, and proposes to deliver the same — or better — end-results without you having to endure the wrath of actives. This is because you’re allowing your skin to build a tolerance to harsher formulas gradually. Dr. Bowe says that overindulging in actives actually damages your skin-barrier instead of benefitting you.

Though the prospect of seeing results within days is tempting; it’s not possible or practical to maintain these results. Slow and steady always wins the race. You must look past the superficiality of aesthetics, and think of the long-term once in a while. And this schedule lets you do that.

Should You Skin Cycle?

Dr. Bowe says that there are two groups of people who will benefit most from skin-cycling: those who are overwhelmed by all the products out there and not sure where to start, and those who are already using great products but reaching a plateau in results.

Remember that this isn’t a one-size-fits-all situation. Sometimes — those with oily skin-types might find that exfoliating more frequently is better than maintaining a gap of four days as recommended by this approach. You can try out a three-day approach in this case, and see how it works out for you.

And for those with sensitive or dry skin, very high concentrations of retinol and acids might just jeopardise your skin-barrier, and exacerbate your situation. You can use low-grade versions of each instead, or add a third night of recovery to the equation. But remember to always consult your dermatologist before using any formulas, and make sure you’re not going overboard with anything.

Featured Image: Instagram

16 Aug 2022

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