Skin Cycling v.s. Skin Flooding

Welcome to Generation Z and skincare tiktok aka #skintok is now a thriving community full of tips and tricks to make your skin happy and healthy. If you’ve been scrolling through your “for you page”, you’d have come across at least one video about skincare. Yes, as of today, the “skincare” hashtag has over 177.3 billion views…  

In our previous blog, we have shared about 5 horror trends that are actually a flop. Forget that, today we are going to discuss 2 trends that are actually worth trying. 

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1. Skin cycling

Skin cycling means just that; it simply means following a specific skincare schedule or cycle. 

This trend is not only approved by dermatologists…it was coined by one, Dr Bowe. During the pandemic, while helping curate new skincare ingredients and routines for her patients, Dr Bowe formulated skin cycling as a means of introducing new active ingredients and products while minimising the irritations.

Simply put, it is a nighttime skincare routine which involves using active ingredients on a fixed schedule interspersed with ‘rest’ days. This would help to minimise irritations while allowing your skin’s microbiome to recover. Skin cycling can be beneficial for people with sensitive or reactive skin, and also for people who are new to exfoliating acids and retinoids. 

Here’s an example of a classic 4-day skin cycling routine:


Skin cycling for beginners: how to get started. And how to layer with Bowe Glowe #skincycling #thatboweglow #dermatologist #skintok

♬ original sound – Dr. Whitney Bowe

Night 1 – Apply a chemical exfoliant (AHAs, BHAs or PHAs)

The first evening starts off with exfoliation to slough off dead skin cells on the surface and give your skin that smooth and glowing finish. At the same time, it also works to prep your skin for night two which is all about the retinol.

Night 2 – Apply retinols

Arguably one of the most powerful ingredients that one can include in a skincare routine. It can penetrate into the dermis to treat acne, fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and uneven skin. However, the common side effects of it are redness, itchiness and peeling. This is why your skin needs to recover from it. 

Night 3 and 4 – Apply heavy-duty creams

It is important for your skin to take a break from these active ingredients. The fourth night focuses on recovery with hydrating and nourishing serums and moisturisers formulated with ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin, ceramides etc.

And the cycle of exfoliant-retinol-recovery repeats again.

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According to Dr Bowe, skin cycling can benefit all skin types but you may need to customise your cycle according to your skin concerns, conditions and types. However, do take note that skin cycling is not recommended for people who are pregnant or with acutely sensitive skin. 

If you’re looking to even out your skin tone or lighten dark spots or blemishes, the classic 4-day skin cycling may be too gentle for you to achieve visible results. Instead, you can try to decrease the number of recovery nights to amplify the benefits of your exfoliant and retinol. If you have eczema or rosacea, please proceed with caution and add more recovery nights to allow healing. 

2) Skin flooding

Say hello to skin flooding: think Paya Lebar and Tai Seng in December… but on your face! The basic idea of skin flooding is just  to ‘flood’ your skin with moisture, first using a humectant to deliver hydration, and then layering an emollient to lock in moisture and prevent water loss. 

It involves four simple steps:

1. Cleanse with a gentle cleanser

2. Follow up with a water-based toner

3. Apply 1-2 humectant serum(s) 

Choose one that is formulated with hydrating actives such as hyaluronic acid, glycerin or PCA. *Always apply your products from the thinnest to the thickest texture for maximum hydration benefits.

4. Seal the actives in with a moisturiser 

Choose one that is formulated with emollients such as ceramides or squalene.

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Skin flooding is suitable for all skin types and is especially beneficial during winter season or for dry and sensitive skin. While skin flooding can be done daily, it is advisable for people with acne-prone skin to do skin flooding sparingly as heavy emollients can clog pores and trigger breakouts (you may even adapt this to a skin cycling routine!). 

Other things to note for skin flooding is that it does not mix well with chemical exfoliants such as AHAs and BHAs. It is also advisable to ditch retinol on the nights you flood your skin because locking in harsher ingredients may irritate your skin and damage your skin barrier.

Wrapping up 

Should you be trying skin cycling or skin flooding? Well, it depends entirely on your skin types and skin needs. Skin cycling tends to work to even out skin tone and brighten dull complexion while skin flooding is helpful to alleviate dry and dehydrated skin. 

As mentioned, you can even merge both trends together; during skin cycling recovery nights you can take the opportunity to do skin flooding instead.

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As with any skincare trend, it is always a good idea to consult with a skincare professional before incorporating a new technique or product into your routine. We’re just a phone call away!

In good hands,