My Skin Cycling Routine

My Skin Cycling Routine is a rotation of products over a four night period that allows my skin to rest between the use of two very powerful ingredients, glycolic acid and retinol.  The Skin Cycling trend went viral on TikTok recently and for once, experts are happy that it did! 

According to dermatologists, creating a schedule for your skin is a great idea. Watch as I demonstrate my Skin Cycling Routine Monday through Thursday. I'll break down what's happening each night, why it's important, and why our skin needs a little break occasionally. 

Episode #16  - My Skin Cycling Routine - This blog will be completed over four days and will include four videos demoing the steps involved during each stage of Skin Cycling.

To see previous blog post episodes, please visit michellefoxonline.com/blog


My Skin Cycling Routine

Skin Cycling  - Night 1 Exfoliation

Key ingredient: glycolic acid

With every episode of Michelle Fox Beauty I like to provide a FREE resource for you! 

Check out this FREE diagram to help you keep track of your skin cycling routine! It includes pages for your routine each night and space to track your own skin cycling sessions.

Skin Cycling broken down into four nights

As product ingredients have advanced and become more potent over the years, understanding how and when to use them is more vital than ever. Deep exfoliants and retinoids can irritate and even damage your skin if not used properly. The soft supple skin you are working toward could end up rough and red. 

Enter Skin Cycling - a four night routine that ensures your skin has recovery time between such hard working ingredients.

Skin Cycling works like this: Night 1 is your Exfoliating Night; Night 2 focuses on Retoids; Nights 3 and 4 are recovery nights, which can include hydrating and soothing products, and on Night 5 you repeat the cycle.


Night 1 - Exfoliation

Key ingredient: glycolic acid

In the morning, follow your usual skincare routine which should include a cleanser, moisturizer, and eye cream, at the least (consider adding a vitamin C serum as well!). The evening of the first day, your focus is to deeply exfoliate your skin. This removes the outermost layer, including dead, dry skin cells, dirt, oil, and if the exfoliation is deep enough, can even improve the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and reduce discoloration (age spots).*

Here are the specific steps:

Cleanse. Use the same cleanser that you use in the morning. If you are over 35, consider using a cleanser with age fighting properties. Ingredients to look for are resveratrol, peptides, and antioxidants.
Exfoliate. This is it! The main event. Choose from something gentle like an apricot scrub, or take it up a notch and try a charcoal mask. The real heavy hitters are microdermabrasion treatments and glycolic acid peels.  The more intense the ingredients, the deeper the level of exfoliation, and therefore the more dramatic the results!  For a true Skin Cycling experience, you want to use a Glycolic Acid Facial Peel.
Moisturize. Use a nighttime moisturizer. You can use the same moisturizer that you use in the morning however your skin responds to age fighting ingredients better while it is at rest, so evening is a great time to use a hydration product specifically designed for overnight use. These products may contain encapsulated retinol or another vitamin A derivative. 
Eye Cream.  The eye area needs products all its own and pampering this delicate area morning and night is the key to keeping your skin smooth and supple instead of crepey and droopy. Don't get too close to your eyes or you will irritate them. You want to moisturize the orbital area, not your eyeballs!

Products Used:

Mary Kay Oil Free Eye Makeup Remover
Mary Kay Timewise Repair Volu-Firm Foaming Cleanser
Mary Kay Timewise Repair Revealing Radiance Facial Peel
Mary Kay Timewise Repair Volu-Firm Advanced Lifting Serum
Mary Kay Timewise Repair Volu-Firm Night Treatment with Retinol
Mary Kay Timewise Repair Volu-Firm Eye Renewal Cream



Night 2 - Retinoids

Key ingredient: retinol

In the morning, follow your usual skincare routine. The evening of the second day, your focus is to use a retinoid product. Retinol can increase the rate of cell turn-over, boost collagen production, reduce hyperpigmentation,* improve fine lines & wrinkles, and will ultimately increase skin hydration (although your skin may initially be dry).

Here are the specific steps:

Cleanse. Use the same cleanser that you use in the morning. 
Eye Cream.  ***Use your eye cream before your fingers touch the retinoid product!!! 
Retinoid product. Tretinoin, retinyl palmitate, retinaldehyde, isotretinoin, and tazarotene are all retinoid products, but the gold standard is pure retinol! I'm using Retinol 0.5 mixed with a Calming Facial Milk. You absolutely must follow the instructions for this process!!! Your skin needs time to acclimate to retinoids, so following a schedule is necessary. 
Moisturize. Use a nighttime moisturizer

Products Used:

Mary Kay Oil Free Eye Makeup Remover
Mary Kay Timewise Repair Volu-Firm Foaming Cleanser
Mary Kay Timewise Repair Volu-Firm Eye Renewal Cream
Mary Kay Clinical Solutions Retinol Set
Mary Kay Timewise Repair Volu-Firm Advanced Lifting Serum
Mary Kay Timewise Repair Volu-Firm Night Treatment with Retinol

Night 3 - Recovery 

Key ingredient: hyaluronic acid

In the morning, follow your usual skincare routine. The evening of the third day is a recovery day that focuses on hydrating your skin. A super popular hydrating ingreident is hyaluronic acid. It is found naturally in our eyes and joints to lubricate those areas. 

When used for cosmetics purposes, hyaluronic acid is made in a lab. The product I use is a serum that combines the benefits of hyaluronic acid and ceramides, another product found naturally in our bodes that can be depleted due to dry skin, pollution, smoke, and.... a whole lot of exfoliation (sound familiar?)

Here are the specific steps

Cleanse. Use the same cleanser that you use in the morning. 
Hydrating Mask. If you are particularly dry, use this time to apply a hydrating sheet mask or other soothing, gel-type moisturizer (eye patches, eye gel, etc.)
Hyaluronic acid. Apply a hyaluronic acid serum of your choice. I'm using one with HA and ceramides. It's a unique lightweight moisturizer that soaks in quickly and thoroughly, then hydrates and plumps up your skin.
Moisturize. Use a nighttime moisturizer
Eye Cream.  The eye area needs products all its own and pampering this delicate area morning and night is the key to keeping your skin smooth and supple instead of crepey and droopy. 
Slugging.  This is an optional step that provides intense hydration overnight, however, if you are very oily or blemish-prone, I would not recommend it. Apply an occlusive balm that includes shea butter, beeswax or some other thick, waxy substance all over your face and leave it on overnight. You just tried the red hot TIkTok slugging trend!

Products Used:

Mary Kay Oil Free Eye Makeup Remover
Mary Kay Timewise Repair Volu-Firm Foaming Cleanser
Mary Kay Clinical Solutions HA + Ceramide Serum
Mary Kay Timewise Repair Volu-Firm Advanced Lifting Serum
Mary Kay Timewise Repair Volu-Firm Night Treatment with Retinol
Mary Kay Timewise Repair Volu-Firm Eye Renewal Cream
Mary Kay Extra Emollient Night Cream

Night 4 - Recovery 

Key ingredient: vitamin C 

In the morning, follow your usual skincare routine. The fourth and last night of the cycle is another recovery night. You can focus on hydrating your skin again, like we did last night, and if you want to use hyaluronic acid again, go for it! 

Other options are a hydrating mask or sheet mask. But it's also a great time to use a vitamin C product (or two) since your skin is primed and ready to soak up (literally) all those benefits. What are the benefits of vitamin C in your skincare, you ask? Vitamin C has been shown to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, diminish discoloration*, lessen acne scars, smooth rough patches, and brighten your skin. Sound good to you? Me too!!! 

Here are the specific steps

Cleanse. Use the same cleanser that you use in the morning.
Hydrating Mask. If you are particularly dry, use this time to apply a hydrating sheet mask or other soothing, gel-type moisturizer (eye patches, eye gel, etc.)
Vitamin C serum. Apply a vitamin C serum of your choice. I'm using one with vitamin C and resveratrol. The drops are literally like water, so be quick and careful when you apply it! You might feel it working because it is acidic, like the glycolic peel and the retinoid, but not quite as intense. If you have another vitamin C serum, such as Replenishing Serum with C + E, you would apply it after the drops because the thinnest product always goes first.
Moisturize. Use a nighttime moisturizer
Eye Cream.  The eye area needs products all its own.
Slugging.  This is an optional step that provides intense hydration overnight.

Products Used:

Mary Kay Oil Free Eye Makeup Remover
Mary Kay Timewise Repair Volu-Firm Foaming Cleanser
Mary Kay Clinical Solutions C + Resveratrol Line Reducer
Mary Kay Timewise Replenishing Serum C + E
Mary Kay Timewise Repair Volu-Firm Advanced Lifting Serum
Mary Kay Timewise Repair Volu-Firm Night Treatment with Retinol
Mary Kay Timewise Repair Volu-Firm Eye Renewal Cream

To learn more about serums and which one is best for you, click HERE

Wrap Up...

So there you have it! Spending these past four evenings with you has been so much fun! Try Skin Cycling, if you aren't already doing it. You won't be disappointed!

I definitely believe this is a beneficial protocol and I will do my level best to keep it up! Who's with me? 

Let me know in the comments what your thoughts are and be sure to share this with a friend . 

I'd love to keep growing our circle of influence so we can encourage and love on more and more women. Thanks for your support!


*to read more about reducing hyperpigmentation and discoloration (aka age spots), read my blog, Age Spots - 3 Sure Fire Ways to Get Rid of Them!



Click the button below if you would like to schedule time with me to discuss your Skin Cycling Routine. Consultations are free and you are not obligated to make a purchase. 

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Michelle Fox
Michelle Fox

I hope you enjoyed this post. I love sharing new tips and thoughts on "all things beauty", specifically designed to help women over 40 look and feel their beautiful best. Please share any content ideas that you have for this blog in the comments. I appreciate you!