Is The New 'Skin Boosting' Trend Better For Your Skin Than Skin Cycling?

TikTok is the place to discover trends, and it's become the place for beauty experts and aficionados to share their tips. While questionable beauty trends like "sunscreen contouring" gained traction for all the wrong reasons, "slugging" and "glazed donut skin" became the powerhouses for glowing skin while protecting the skin barrier.

Regarding viral trends, dermatologist Whitney Bowe's "skin cycling" could be the most popular beauty trend on TikTok, as the hashtag has accumulated an incredible 3.5 billion views and many dermatologists are on board with it. "The concept of skin cycling applies to a nighttime skincare routine, which involves using active ingredients only on certain days, and following them with 'rest' days," dermatologist Alexis Granite tells Vogue. It works on the principle of using strong, active ingredients like chemical exfoliants and retinoids on the first two nights and then giving your skin two days off with rejuvenating products. Regular folks can't stop raving about it as it simplifies their nighttime skincare routines, since using too many layers of potent ingredients can cause irritation and inflammation.

However, Manhattan's top dermatologist Dr. Dennis Gross of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare isn't jumping on the skin cycling bandwagon and doesn't think it's the best for everyone. In a press release obtained by Glam, Dr. Gross says, "If you are using a product that is designed to be used daily just a couple times per week, you are not getting the full benefits of the product. If you are using your daily products as directed and they are making your skin red, inflamed and irritated, you are using the wrong product." Dr. Gross believes that "skin boosting" rather than cycling is the gateway to the ultimate healthy skin.

What is skin boosting?

Dr. Dennis Gross is coining the new skincare term "skin boosting," which could be better for your skin than skin cycling. According to Dr. Gross' press release, skin boosting encourages following a daily skincare routine for your skin type and only using more potent ingredients a couple of times a week.

"Don't cycle with daily products," Dr. Gross explains. "Instead, cycle with stronger boosted products while staying on your daily regimen. This is very different than using what should be a daily product only several times a week — which ultimately makes it sub-optimal." 

Dr. Whitney Lowe's skin cycling tutorial on TikTok recommends retinoids for night two after using chemical exfoliants on night one and then taking two nights off. Retinol is known for causing irritation and sensitivity to beginners or for those with sensitive skin. Dermatologists advise patients to start slowly a couple of times a week at a weaker concentration so their skin can get used to it. "If your skin tolerates it well, you can slowly work your way up to using it every night," board-certified dermatologist Maryann Mikhail tells Byrdie. Therefore, if you're an advanced retinoid user or your skin isn't sensitive, you don't need to take breaks between retinoid use.

You can supplement the daily use of these products with "stronger products that are designed to be used once or twice per week" to achieve a boosting effect,  Dr. Gross notes. Some examples of stronger products include more intense acid peels and retinol peels.

Why skin boosting is better for your skin

If you have acne and only use acne treatments sparingly, you probably won't see results. Similarly, your skin needs hydration daily. "A daily moisturizer is necessary to maintain your skin's moisture barrier and to prevent environmental damage to your skin," dermatologist Mara Weinstein tells Byrdie. Therefore, the concept of skin cycling means that your skin is not getting the full benefits of products that were designed for daily use. 

In Dr. Gross' press release, he reveals the importance of finding "a product you can use daily as directed. There are clinical studies that show the benefits of using ingredients like acids and retinol daily. As a dermatologist, I live by the term 'use as directed.'" He added that all products are tested before release, and if used as instructed daily, you'll gain the most benefits (but only if it works for your skin type).

Your skin shouldn't be experiencing regular irritation from a daily-use product. Dr. Gross adds that "skin needing weekly 'time to heal' is a myth," so there's no need to take breaks. "Remember that red skin is a red flag," he warns. "If you are experiencing irritation, move on to a different product that isn't irritating and stay on it daily."  

Despite the popularity of the skin cycling trend, Dr. Gross maintains that the best thing to do is stay consistent with your daily products, even if you're a minimalist. Additionally you can give your routine a boost with more powerful products a few times a week, depending on your skin type and concerns.