We’ve already talked about the benefits of skin cycling and body cycling. But can the method apply to hair, too? First, a refresher: While the idea of alternating between a few key beauty products has been a derm-approved method for years, dermatologist Whitney Bowe, MD, perfected the practice in a now viral TikTok video, smartly coining it “skin cycling.” The technique involves rotating your skincare products on a four-day cycle, so you use active ingredients (like retinol or alpha hydroxy acids) some days and only hydrating ingredients on “rest days” to reduce irritation.

Now beauty lovers have started to apply the skin cycling method to other areas of the body, including hair. Hair cycling focuses on rotating the products used on your hair and scalp based on its specific needs, says Alex Brown, a Chicago-based celebrity hairstylist and salon owner. It’s a cheat sheet that helps you care for your scalp and hair correctly and takes the guesswork out of common questions, like how often you should exfoliate your scalp or use a hair mask. Ahead, learn more about the buzzy topic with the help of hair experts.

What is hair cycling?

Similar to skin cycling, hair cycling has you alternate shampoos, conditioners, and stylers. Stress, the environment, the foods we eat, our workouts, even the water we wash with impact our scalp’s pH level and sebum production, as well as the strength, elasticity, shine, bounce, and overall performance of our hair strands, says Philip Berkovitz, founder of Philip B haircare. Because of this, hair changes—our products should, too.

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What are the benefits?

Hair cycling helps you avoid overusing your products. Applying a powerful active ingredient daily can cause irritation or damage, Brown says. For example, detoxifying shampoos and treatments are necessary, but they shouldn’t be used every wash day, because they can dry out your strands.

Hair cycling also allows you to target multiple concerns: For example, one day you can use a shampoo that's all about smoothing frizz, and the next, you can use one that repairs damage with bond-building technology.

How to do it

Every routine will vary—you want it to be specific to your hair type as well as its quality, condition, and needs, says Berkovitz—but overall you want to alternate between detoxifying, hydrating, and repairing products, says hairstylist Jonathan Colombini, creative director of style and color for L’Oréal Paris. Of course, how often you use these products depends on how often you wash your hair. Ideally, Colombini recommends washing every third day: For the first wash, use a clarifying shampoo to get a deep clean and remove buildup. (Colombini recommends L'Oréal Paris Scalp Care + Detox Shampoo.)

On your next wash day, switch to a moisturizing or reparative formula to prevent your strands from drying out. (We like Vegamour HYDR-8 Hydrate and Repair Shampoo for damaged and frizzy hair types; Erenzia Nourish Shampoo is ideal for wavy, curly, and coily hair.) For your third wash day, repair damage with the Olaplex Bond Maintenance shampoo.

You can use the same conditioner after each of these washes, except for one of them. “That’s when you want to swap in a hair mask to restore moisture,” says Berkovitz. He likes his Russian Amber Imperial Gold Masque, which helps restore dry, thinning hair. We love the Oribe Hair Alchemy Strengthening Mask because it repairs and prevents split ends and breakage while deeply conditioning hair.

To style: You can stick to the same formulas as long as they’re working for you. Otherwise, switch out styling products based on your hair’s needs. If you have fine hair, apply Paul Mitchell Volumizing Liquid; it’s a leave-in treatment that boosts and protects flat hair with flax seed and ferulic acid. When frizz is a struggle, Living Proof No Frizz Smooth Styling Serum is light but hydrating—apply it anytime you want a smoother look. Those with thinning hair concerns can benefit from a daily hair serum like Briogeo Destined for Density Peptide Hair Serum.

No matter what you choose or what your rotation of products is, the most important thing to remember about hair cycling is it’s supposed to be fluid and adjustable. “Cycling is all about delivering what your hair needs when it needs it most,” says Berkovitz.

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EverPure Scalp Care + Detox Shampoo
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HYDR-8 Hydrate and Repair Shampoo
Vegamour HYDR-8 Hydrate and Repair Shampoo
Nourish Shampoo
Erenzia Nourish Shampoo
No. 4 Bond Maintenance™ Shampoo
Olaplex No. 4 Bond Maintenance™ Shampoo
Russian Amber Imperial Gold Masque
Philip B Russian Amber Imperial Gold Masque
Hair Alchemy Strengthening Mask
Oribe Hair Alchemy Strengthening Mask
Clean Beauty Volumizing Liquid
Paul Mitchell Clean Beauty Volumizing Liquid
No Frizz Smooth Styling Serum
Living Proof No Frizz Smooth Styling Serum
Destined for Density Peptide Hair Serum
Briogeo Destined for Density Peptide Hair Serum
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Genesis Rivas

Genesis Rivas is the Beauty Editor at Oprah Daily, where she covers hair, makeup, skin, nails, and more. Before joining the Oprah Daily team, she wrote for several publications, including InStyle, Real Simple, and Shape. When she’s not testing, researching, and writing fun and educational beauty content, you can find her dancing and eating her way through New York City. Follow her on Instagram or TikTok