Kseniya Kobets, MD, the director of cosmetic dermatology at Montefiore Einstein Advanced Care in Scarsdale, New York, says that if you have sensitive skin, you can still skin cycle, but you should approach exfoliation with caution. “Exfoliating with a physical exfoliant makes sensitive skin more at risk for irritation or allergic reaction, especially if you’re just starting out with getting exfoliants or retinoids,” she says.

Night Two: Apply retinol

The second night of Dr. Bowe’s skin-cycling routine begins with cleansing, then a pea-sized amount of retinol, coated with a layer of moisturizer as the final step of your nighttime routine. “Retinoids are one of the powerful ingredients to include in your skin cycling routine.” Dr. Bowe says. However, if you try to use them too frequently, or layer them with other potentially irritating ingredients, you end up with inflammation rather than results, she adds.

Retinol is one of the main forms of vitamin A,” cosmetic chemist Ron Robinson previously told Allure. “It can help stimulate cell turnover as well as help stimulate collagen production.” That means the reduced appearance of fine lines, dark spots, dark circles, and acne.

If you’re new to retinol, your skin cycling routine will need some adjustments. Retinol requires tolerance on your skin’s part. For those who are just beginning to incorporate this active ingredient, Dr. Kobets has some advice: “Start by using it once a week on top of a moisturizer. Do so for a few weeks to a month, before introducing one extra night of retinoid per month, as tolerated.”

Nights Three and Four: Hydrate and repair

As for the final two nights of Dr. Bowe’s skin-cycling routine, she emphasizes a full-on dedication to sole hydration and repair, which means no active ingredients are involved. It begins with washing the day away with a gentle cleanser or even partaking in some double cleansing. If you feel your skin is in need of an extra boost of hydration, a hyaluronic acid serum will do the trick, she says. Lastly comes your choice of moisturizer. An optional step four: pat a face oil onto your skin to seal the moisture in.

What are the risks of skin cycling?

Dr. Kobets says that those with sensitive and eczema-prone skin types simply won’t be able to tolerate two active ingredients in one week to start. If you fall into one of these categories, he suggests beginning your journey with just one active for a few weeks, then adding the second active once your skin has tolerated the first.

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