The concept of hair cycling could be the key to your healthiest hair yet

Written by Lucy Partington

Freelance beauty editor Lucy Partington is obsessed with all things skincare, collecting eyeshadow palettes that she’ll probably never use, and is constantly on the hunt for the ultimate glowy foundation.

Taking direct inspiration from the skin cycling trend, hair cycling could help unlock your shiniest strands yet. Here’s the low down.

It was only a matter of time before one of last year’s biggest skincare trends – skin cycling – evolved. And, now, here we are. Enter: hair cycling.

For those unaware, let’s rewind to what skin cycling is. In short, it’s the idea of having a four-night routine, throughout which you alternate the products you’re using. So, you’ll use chemical exfoliators on night one, followed by retinol on night two. Then,  on nights three and four, the focus is solely on hydration, known as ‘rest days’, during which you’ll use products to nourish the skin (with ingredients such as ceramides), and then repeat.

The idea of hair cycling follows a similar concept. It’s using different shampoos, conditioners, masks and styling products, all targeted to your individual hair type, to combat any issues and ensure your hair always looks – and feels – as healthy as possible.

In a video on TikTok, Kelsey Griffin (@kelseygriffinn) says: “I think I’ve been doing skin cycling but for hair care for a long time. Every time I wash my hair, I [use] a different type of shampoo and conditioner.” There’s the wash she calls a ‘reset routine’ that uses a detox shampoo alongside a hydrating hair mask. Another includes bond-building shampoo and conditioner, such as Olaplex or K18. A third incorporates a shampoo and conditioner that are targeted towards the specific style she wants: in this case, smoothing products.

But is hair cycling really, truly necessary? Well, aside from the fact a lot of people are likely already doing something similar without realising – even if that just means you’re using a deep conditioning hair mask every week or so – it’s mostly down to your individual hair type. According to Adam Reed, celebrity hairdresser and founder of Arkive Headcare, hair cycling is more of a personal preference rather than something that’s needed or necessary. 

“If you’re somebody with finer hair that’s frizzy, it’s great to put a treatment in or to switch up the product you’re using,” says Reed. “For example, you could use a co-cleanser one night and then a regular shampoo and conditioner the next time you wash your hair.

“I also often suggest occasionally using an oil to condition hair, and then a regular conditioner during the next wash. Or if you’re somebody that has scalp issues, hair cycling could be good because it means you can use a co-cleanser, serum and a scrub in one wash, and then in another opt for a more moisturising routine,” explains Reed.

How to hair cycle effectively

If hair cycling is something you want to pursue, experts say that you can use the weather as a rough guide. So right now, during the cold, winter months, the scalp tends to fall on the drier side, meaning it could be worth incorporating a product or treatment that’s able to inject moisture and keep the skin soft.

You can also switch up your regular conditioner for a more intensive treatment mask, and if the ends of your hair are looking dull or lacklustre, opt for a pre-shampoo treatment or oil that will nourish them. Using a colour-depositing mask or purple shampoo every few washes also counts as hair cycling, while the curly-haired among us could benefit from a curl-enhancing routine. If you have a high-maintenance styling routine, opting for a detox shampoo – or an apple cider vinegar-based product – is a great way to get rid of product build-up and ‘reset’ your hair each week.

Essentially, hair cycling is a completely personalised approach to hair care, and in some cases, what works is purely down to trial and error – because a great routine for one person might not be quite right for you. However, it’s also worth noting that if your current haircare routine is working for you, then remember the age-old saying: if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 

Main image: Getty

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