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Skin Cycling

What the concept means and our preferred cycle.

Jordan Harper getting ready for bed, reading a book

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Barefaced RetinAL Skin Therapy Retinoid
Barefaced RetinAL Skin Therapy: Stronger than retinol but much better tolerated.
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What is Skin Cycling?

Truthfully, it’s a trending term for the concept that’s been suggested by practicing skincare experts for…as far back as we can remember! It’s simply the idea of gradually introducing products with the goal of minimizing irritation. In order to reduce common sensitized reactions, the viral concept that’s all the craze right now suggests following a four-day cycle when using products with strong active ingredients (i.e. exfoliating acids and retinoids). But we think it needs to be tweaked a bit based on retinoid research. Here’s our take in Skincare School...


The Four-Day Cycle People Are Following

In an attempt to lessen reactions such as redness, excessive dryness, flaking, and tightness, the current popular social media method suggests following this timeline when introducing new products like exfoliants (acids) and retinoids:

Day 1: Exfoliate
Day 2: Retinoid
Day 3: Rest
Day 4: Rest


It's a structured schedule to follow to make sure your skin barrier gets some recovery time while adjusting to new active ingredients. That part, we love.

However, this four-day schedule above is not necessarily one-size-fits-all for the long-term.

Our Modified Skin Cycle

We think it’s important to skin cycle based on the clinical data of product research.

Did you know, retinoids are the most researched anti-aging topical skincare product?

If you want your products to work on your skin based on what they are researched to do, it’s important to use them frequently enough. The skin cycling (exfoliate, retinoid, recover, recover) trend all over the inter webs is great for anyone brand spanking new to certain products, but you need to increase your frequency of retinoid use to 5-7 nights per week to actually get the results that you want.

This is why finding products that your skin can tolerate consistently is imperative. There’s no point in using the “strongest” products if your skin can’t handle them regularly.

All of these reasons are why Jordan Harper formulated RetinAL Skin Therapy (RST)—because retinoids can be irritating and drying and so many skin types cannot tolerate prescription Tretinoin (Retin-A) daily. RST is stronger than all retinols but more effective and less irritating, which allows it to be used more consistently.

Every person has a unique skin type and tolerance of active ingredients. So your skin cycle will be based on your own sensitivity and products.

Here's what we thinking skin cycling should look like:

Day 1: Exfoliate
Day 2: Retinoid
Day 3: Retinoid
Day 4: Retinoid (or rest if needed)


Things to Remember When Skin Cycling

    • The double-rest cycle serves as a solid place to start, especially if you've never ever used acids or retinoids, and/or if you're experiencing highly sensitized reactions upon introduction.
    • Not everyone will require so many days "off." It's a more general guideline to follow as you figure out what works best for you.
    • Your skin may thrive with two full days of recovery and repair, but you may only need one, and eventually, you may not even need a day off.
    • Using presription-strength Retin-A? Going back to the fact that retinoid research is based on 5-7 days of use, we believe it’s better to use a lower dose more frequently, than a higher dose less frequently. More consistency is better for results than a higher percentage of Retin-A that rarely gets applied. (Think of it this way–what’s going to give you better results: one really “strong” workout a week or smaller more manageable daily workouts?!)
    • Many people (Jordan included) can only tolerate Tretinoin (Retin-A) on alternating nights. But it's absolutely okay, if not ideal, to use RetinAL Skin Therapy on the other nights–so you can reach those 5-7 days of retinoid use in one week.
    • The night you will want to skip your retinoid is any evening you use a high percentage of exfoliant/acid product, like Glow Peel Pads.
The whole point of skin cycling is to optimize the product and results by avoiding over-irritation. So, as we love to say, just listen to your skin!


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