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How Skin Cycling Can Help Restore Skin Balance

Posted by Liz Earle Beauty Co.

February 20, 2024

3 min read

The resilient organ that is your skin continually adjusts and rejuvenates, employing a dynamic process called homeostasis to withstand diverse stressors. In a state of perfect harmony, your skin adeptly reacts to and recuperates from various stressors, resulting in fewer problems. When considering the complexities of our complexion, ranging from concerns like dryness, acne, pigmentation, to the natural ageing process, it’s important to also acknowledge the significance of maintaining an optimal pH value.

While the skin possesses the ability to self-adjust its pH from minor variations, any significant alteration can potentially disrupt the delicate balance. External factors such as smoking or air pollution and internal factors like stress or hormonal changes have the potential to negatively impact the skin’s protective barrier. This imbalance can lead to skin inflammation and oxidative stress, increasing visible issues such as dryness, uneven texture, lack of radiance, uneven tone and excess oiliness.

a close up shot of a woman applying a skincare product

What constitutes healthy skin?

Healthy skin is your skin at its best, it’s able to maintain its natural balance and should demonstrate these innate qualities:
  • Hydration: Healthy skin is well-hydrated, ensuring that it retains sufficient moisture. This not only contributes to a plump and youthful appearance but also supports essential skin functions, such as barrier protection and cell turnover.
  • Balanced oil levels: Maintaining balanced oil levels is crucial for healthy skin. It means the skin is neither excessively oily nor excessively dry. This in turn helps prevent issues like acne or dryness, promoting a comfortable and resilient skin barrier.
  • Smooth texture: Healthy skin feels supple and smooth to the touch. This is a result of proper exfoliation and hydration. A smooth texture indicates an intact skin barrier and effective renewal of skin cells.
a close up shot of a womans face
  • Even tone: Healthy skin boasts an even tone, free from redness, blotchiness or discoloration. This suggests a lack of inflammation or irritation. An even complexion enhances the overall appearance and contributes to a youthful and vibrant look.
  • Stability: Healthy skin is stable and resilient, showing resilience against external stressors. It rarely experiences severe fluctuations or issues, indicating a well-regulated balance. This stability indicates the skin's ability to adapt and respond to various environmental factors.
  • Firmness: Firmness is a quality of healthy skin that can be maintained through protective measures such as sun protection and consistent moisturisation. These practices support collagen and elastin production, essential for maintaining the skin's elasticity and firmness.
a snowy forest

Triggers of skin fluctuation

Our skin is constantly exposed to a whole range of influences that can either enhance its radiance or disrupt it. Understanding the triggers of skin fluctuation can be crucial in developing a skincare routine that promotes balance and resilience. These influences that can throw off skin balance can be environmental or personal – or both. Key factors include:

  • Cold weather: The sudden drop in temperature often results in dry and tight skin, as the cold air strips away natural oils and moisture. The need for protective measures, such as moistures and serums should be your skincare go-to during the winter months to alleviate the harsh effects of the chill.
  • Lack of sleep: Insufficient sleep not only takes a toll on overall wellbeing but also affects our skin. Lack of sleep can accelerate the ageing process, leading to puffiness and dark circles. A consistent sleep routine and quality sleep are essential for maintaining skin vitality and resilience.
  • Harsh cleansers: While cleansing is a crucial step in your daily skincare routine, harsh cleansers can disrupt the skin barrier, leaving it vulnerable to irritation and dryness. Opting for gentle cleansers that effectively remove impurities without compromising the skin's protective layer is important for sustaining a healthy complexion.
a city centre
  • Stress: Stress can wreak havoc on the skin. It triggers the release of cortisol, a stress hormone, which can lead to increased oil production and breakouts. Incorporating stress management techniques, such as mindfulness and relaxation exercises, into daily life can significantly contribute to clearer, healthier-looking skin.
  • City commuting: Urban living brings with it exposure to environmental pollutants, and city commuting intensifies this exposure. Pollution particles can clog pores, which could accelerate ageing and contribute to skin inflammation. Regular cleansing, along with the use of antioxidants, can help counteract the potential harsh effects of city living on the skin.
Maintaining a steady skincare routine is crucial for keeping your skin well-balanced and in optimal condition. While retinol and retinoids have gained popularity for their remarkable skin benefits in enhancing texture and appearance, they may also pose challenges to the skin barrier. Enter the emerging beauty practice called 'skin cycling.' This innovative routine is proving to be effective in promoting faster skin recovery.
a woman applying a cleanser a woman applying a cleanser

What is skin cycling routine and what are the benefits?

Skin cycling is a ground-breaking skincare technique that introduces ‘rest days’ into your routine to promise skin recovery from produce use, helping to protect and support the repair of your skin’s protective barrier. A strong barrier is your skin’s shield against infections, chemicals, and allergens. Overusing exfoliants and potent retinoids can harm this barrier, resulting in redness and irritation. The cyclical process generally spans a four-night cycle, involving exfoliation and a retinol-based product, followed by two nights dedicated to skin recovery, to help hydrate and nourish your skin. This cycle is then repeated. Dermatologists and beauty expert may customise the routine based on individual skin types and responses.

The practice of skin cycling reduces the likelihood of adverse side effects linked to active ingredients. By using these products less frequently, the probability of experiencing side effects decreases significantly. For example, incorporating retinol between layers of moisturiser can be effective in preventing irritation.

This routine also offers defence against seasonal challenges, particularly in dry and cool weather. Such conditions may worsen skin issues such as eczema, but by actively warding off dryness, it contributes to bolstering your skin's resilience against environmental factors. Introducing these rest days accelerates skin recovery, lessens irritation, and strengthens your skin's protective barrier. In essence, it proves to be a potent and transformative enhancement to your skincare routine, diminishing potential adverse product side effects and fortifying your skin against seasonal challenges. The outcome? Enhanced skin health that exudes confidence and beauty.

Should you be intrigued and wish to experience the benefits of the skin cycling process first hand, we've crafted a recommended four-night skin cycle for you to try.
Liz Earle Cleanse & Glow™ Transforming Gel Cleanser

Night 1: Exfoliation

Start your routine with either our bestselling Cleanse & Polish™ Hot Cloth Cleanser or the deliciously scented Cleanse & Glow™ Transforming Gel Cleanser to thoroughly cleanse your skin and prepare it for exfoliation. Massage Cleanse & Polish™ Hot Cloth Cleanser onto dry skin and complete the experience by rinsing a pure cotton cloth in warm water and polish off the indulgent cream. For Cleanse & Glow™ Transforming Gel Cleanser, warm a grape-sized amount between your hands to melt the gel into oil. Massage onto dry skin and rinse off with warm water, watching it transform into a skin-softening milk.

Next, apply Superskin™ Microdermabrasion Polish, a three-in-one polish that delivers naturally derived chemical and physical exfoliation in a nourishing formula, to reveal a soft and more youthful-looking complexion. Lightly massage a small amount onto damp skin and leave on for 5 minutes. Then rinse off with warm water. Follow with Instant Boost™ Skin Tonic Toner to balance your skin’s PH and tighten pores. Gentle enough to use day and night, this revitalising alcohol-free toner refreshes, soothes and brightens the appearance of skin. Finish with your choice of moisturiser.
Liz Earle Superskin Alt-Retinol Paste

Night 2: Retinoid

Apply Superskin™ Alt-Retinol Skin Paste to visibly transform the appearance of skin. This powerful blend is enriched with Bidens pilosa, a plant-based alternative to retinol that works by mimicking retinol’s mechanism of action to smooth the appearance of deeper lines and wrinkles whilst being kind to the skin. Apply a thin layer to the face, avoiding the eye area. Leave on overnight and wash off with your morning cleanse.
Liz Earle Skin Repair™ Night Cream

Night 3: Recovery

Begin with Skin Repair™ Hydrating Serum to supercharge your routine with an instant and continuous burst of moisture for skin that feels immediately refreshed after application. Powered by a plant-based hyaluronic acid and snow mushroom to leave skin feeling instantly refreshed and deeply replenished. Follow Skin Repair™ Hydrating Night Cream to give your skin’s nightly renewal a moisture boost for the rested look of 8 hours' sleep. Fragranced with a relaxing blend of rose and lavender essential oils to help unwind your senses before slumber, our hydrating night cream is scientifically proven to deliver an intensive moisture boost, so you awaken to skin that looks radiant, refreshed and rested.
Liz Earle Superskin Face Serum

Night 4: Recovery

Repeat the same routine as night three or mix it up and try Superskin™ Face Serum, which helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles after just one use for a radiant, visibly rejuvenated complexion. Followed by Superskin™ Nourishing Night Cream to maximise overnight recovery while you sleep.
Liz Earle Environmental Defence Cream SPF25

Additional Recommendations

During the daytime, apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen like Environmental Defence Cream Mineral SPF 25 to shield your skin from UVA and UVB rays and environmental stressors such as blue light and pollution, while enhancing the skin’s natural defence barrier.
a woman using skincare products

Does skin cycling work for everyone?

Although we acknowledge that a one-size-fits-all skincare routine doesn’t exist, a great advantage of skin cycling is that it’s a flexible routine that can be personalised for different skin types. The incorporation of recovery days within the skin cycling routine provides the skin with necessary time for repair. This process helps identify any sensitivity caused by skin cycling products and ingredients reacting differently on the skin than intended.

Personalised experimentation and consultation with skincare professionals can be essential to determine the effectiveness of skin cycling for each person. A recommended starting point is the classic four-night skin cycle, offering a solid foundation that can be further adjusted to cater to the specific requirements of your skin.

Remember to introduce new products gradually and carry out a patch test if you have sensitive skin.