Let’s face it (pardon the pun!); there always seems to be a new viral trend for your skincare and beauty routine…or a new must-have product.
Skincare is a dazzling myriad of choice. There is an endless temptation of delicious colours, promises of transformation, aesthetically desirable jars, bottles and tubes plus an endless glossary of ingredients that promise to answer all our deepest complexion desires. But without doubt, you and your skin can become overwhelmed with the barrage of actives, treatments and methods.
Well, at Counter Culture, we are here to help navigate the benefits and the blarney!
So, let’s start with Skin Cycling, one of the most significant viral skincare “trends” with billions of views on associated #s on TikTok and other social media platforms.
The term Skin Cycling, is a concept that originated with Dr. Whitney Bowe, a US certified Dermatologist. She created the system in response to the experiences of clients in her clinic who were showing signs of complexion reactivity associated with over stimulation through use of actives along with excessive exfoliation.
Presented with an influx of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, active inflammation, dehydration, fine lines and wrinkles; her response was to develop a system of simplification to alleviate barrier compromise and streamline the treatments to a 4-night repetitive cycle, allowing rest and recovery for the microbiome in between.
But hang on, let’s go back a step…
The unmentionable global conditions of the last few years, meant skincare treatments became an articulation of mindfulness. Particularl in an uncertain world. Where soothing rituals helped counter the flux of reality. The dynamic shift in our lifestyle, increased sanitation, mask wearing and so on, meant our skin health was affected.
In response, one of the hottest topics in skincare is the importance of balance within the skin’s microbiome.
Our skin is a living breathing organ, from your scalp to the soles of your feet. It is a continuous shield that forms a complex home to a community of trillions of microbes, bacteria or skin flora, an eco-system that works in harmony to keep the balance of health on the skin surface.
This delicately balanced eco-system is a formidable fortress of protection, but it is vulnerable to becoming unbalanced from over cleansing, extremes of temperature, improper use of actives, pollution, UV exposure etc.
SO… THE MICROBIOME IS THE SKIN BARRIER?
Not exactly. It forms part of the function of the protective outer layers of your skin alongside the acid mantle and lipid layer.
The barrier function is responsible for keeping the bad stuff out (like irritants / pollutants / UV damage etc) and the good stuff in (like hydration), as well as transporting nutrients where they are needed to help keep the skin soft, supple and elastic.
SO HOW DOES SKIN CYCLING WORK?
One of the reasons this method has been so popular is that it is so simple to follow! In the morning, keep a consistent routine and ensure you include your Vitamin C and UV broad spectrum protection.
Vitamin C is an essential element to achieving skin that is glowing with health and vitality. Try our pick of the best, most potent Vitamin C powerhouse treatment serums to energise your complexion. Trilogy Vitamin C Booster Treatment here is a potent brightening treatment that is a fresh 2 week dose of high-powered Vitamin C, the perfect reboot to support your skin cycling programme.
Juice Beauty Prebiotix Freshly Squeezed Glow Vitamin C Serum here, is another powerhouse serum that helps smooth your skin, neutralise the appearance of pigmentation irregularity, protect from free radicals and maintain a healthy balance to your skin’s microbiome.
With a consistent AM routine to protect, hydrate and balance – it is your PM skincare regime where the rotation occurs.
Let’s break down each night in the cycle:
SKIN CYCLING – NIGHT 1: GET STARTED
STEP 1 – CLEANSE: this should be a consistent part of the cycle, thoroughly cleansing and patting the skin dry before applying treatments.
STEP 2 – EXFOLIATE: creating clarity, helps effective cellular turnover to promote more even radiance, texture and tone, decongest pores and help ready the skin for optimal penetration of fortifying actives.
Exfoliating acids have the power to dissolve the glue that enables dead skin cells and impurities to cling to the skin’s surface and cause congestion, without abrasion from a physical scrub that can cause further damage.
AHA – Alpha Hydroxy Acid – Glycolic / Lactic Acid / Mandelic, chemical exfoliants derived from sugarcane, milk and bitter almonds help resurface the outer layer of the skin to reveal fresh, smooth skin.
BHA – Beta Hydroxy Acid – Salicylic Acid, an exfoliant that is suitable for even sensitive skins. BHAs are oil soluble so can clean deeper into pores, as well as surface exfoliation.
“We love The Elements ABC Exfoliating Peel. With a combination of naturally derived AHA, BHA and activated charcoal, this is a dramatic and effective way to treat surface and deeper-set congestion. Only 1-2 minutes of your time, this is the perfect introduction to your first night cycle.”
STEP 3 – MOISTURISE: Cocoon freshly revealed skin in a layer of moisturiser, locking in hydration and helping build a resilient barrier.
SKIN CYCLING – NIGHT 2: RETINOID (Vitamin A Derivative)
STEP 1 – CLEANSE: If you are new to using this powerhouse, you will need to start with a low dosage and increase skin tolerance. It may help to buffer the skin with moisturiser to help diffuse the penetration until you are confident in your skin’s preference. Retinol is a respected, proven way to help stimulate collagen synthesis, increase cellular turnover and improve the texture and tone of your complexion, smoothing fine lines and evening hyperpigmentation.
STEP 2 – MOISTURISE: Retinol serums are a personal discovery of suitability, but we love Medik8 for their clinical approach to this highly active ingredient. With a range of buildable intensity, they are a reliable, reassuring partner in your journey to restoring skin vitality with effective and potent ingredients.
SKIN CYCLING – NIGHT 3 & 4: RECOVERY
Dr. Bowe compares this to the rest days in a fitness regime. Rest days are for skin to recover and present how it is coping with products, enabling us to assess and avoid a confused and unsettled complexion. Rest days are for soothing, replenishing and hydrating.
CLEANSE Reach for restorative ingredients that help strengthen the skin’s barrier in response to active treatment. Hyaluronic acid is a naturally occurring skin sugar with the incredible ability to attract and absorb x1000 its own weight in moisture, helping the skin maintain balanced hydration and a supple, plump texture.
Ceramides are like the cement between bricks, they are skin lipids (fats) that occur naturally and help prevent TEWL (trans epidermal water loss), ceramides support the integrity of the skin’s resilience through a fortified skin barrier to protect from external aggressors.
Glycerin may not be seen as the sexiest ingredient, but it is a brilliant humectant that draws moisture to the skin surface and due to a low molecular weight, transports it deeper into the skin structure.
“Our go to for post-treatment skin, to replenish lost lipids is Medik8’s Advanced Night Restore. It’s packed with ceramides and skin soothing extract to leave skin pillow-soft.”
“If your skin feels a little agitated and unsettled following the introduction of actives – reach for Trilogy’s Very Gentle Microbiome Oil. Kind to skin that has been stimulated, using prebiotic technology and a complex of nourishing, replenishing ingredients such as rosehip oil, macadamia oil and soothing oats; this delicious treatment helps repair and restore resilience to the microbiome.”
SO WHAT CAN SKIN CYCLING DO FOR ME & MY SKIN?
For beginners starting-out on a more impactful skincare regime. Skin Cycling is a great way to introduce actives to your skin, creating a gradual acceptance of more powerful actives such as Retinol. For those of us already working with treatments and actives; this 4-night rotation gives a great foundation on which to add to potency, increasing tolerance and improved targeting while controlling skin reactivity. If you need to create structure because you’re a skincare magpie; this is a perfect way to streamline your hoard of lotions and potions, creating structure for logical usage of your skincare wardrobe so you can assess more clearly, what your skin responds well to and what it needs more of.
THE COUNTER CULTURE WAY
We believe knowledge is power, as cliché as that may sound. There is so much information at our fingertips that it can actually dis-enable your freedom of choice. We want to debunk the myths and mystery, give you the empowerment to make the best choices for your skin with confidence and know-how.