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There's been a whole lot out there on social media about the concept of "skin cycling" — the practice of alternating between using active ingredients (like exfoliators and retinoids) and letting skin recover with replenishing, restorative ones to maximize benefits and minimize irritation — lately. And we pretty much have one person to thank for it: Dr. Whitney Bowe, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City.
Skin cycling serves as the basis for her entire skin-care brand, Dr. Whitney Bowe Beauty, and it's something I've been doing for years, albeit not quite as intentionally and without the trendy label. I've simply always known not to use my exfoliator on the same night I'm using my retinol, and that if I don't take a break from both every few days, my complexion is likely to become sensitized and rosacea-flareup-prone. All of this is to say that I've been really impressed by Dr. Bowe's product range, and especially with the Exfoliating Night Resurfacing + Brightening Serum, an overnight treatment that gently (but thoroughly) sloughs skin for glow-y, smooth results.
The lightweight, lotion-like formula spreads over skin easily, and uses a blend of three different acid exfoliators — AHA, BHA and PHA — to resurface, smooth, brighten and even out skin tone and texture. The claims associated with these ingredients also include boosting cell turnover, reducing unevenness, and softening and preventing the appearance fine lines over time. The idea is that this serum should be used on night one of a skin-cycling program to clear away dead skin cells, priming skin to better absorb other actives like retinoids in the following steps of the cycle.
To temper all of that active sloughing, the formula is also spiked with postbiotics to soothe skin and prevent irritation. The brand claims the serum "pushes skin outside its comfort zone on nights you are exfoliating to maximize results, without harming the delicate skin barrier," and for me, that's definitely been the case. I've only been using it for a few weeks on a twice-a-week basis, but so far, I've woken up to satisfyingly exfoliated skin — without redness, rosacea or irritation — every time I've used it. It's already claimed a permanent spot in my skin-care routine, and I'm excited to see the results I get with long-term use.
Dr. Whitney Bowe Exfoliation Night Resurfacing + Brightening Serum, $79, available here.
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