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What is hair cycling?

What is hair cycling?

Learn what hair cycling is, and how you can incorporate it into your routine for healthy, shiny hair

Finding the right wash day routine can be challenging. Not only do you need to choose the right products but you’ll also need to be mindful of how your hair looks and feels at that moment in time. The complexity of it all may explain why hair cycling has become one of Tik Tok’s most popular trends, amassing 1.8 billion views on the platform. Hair cycling is the process of using different products depending on your hair’s needs. If you are looking to elevate your wash day routine and improve scalp and hair health in the long run, then it might be worth trying. If you need more convincing, then our guide will tell you everything you need to know.  

What is hair cycling?  

Hair cycling involves creating a weekly routine with your hair products or regimes, but switching up how you use the products each time you wash your hair. “This allows your hair to have ‘rest periods’ and space out certain products in order to address common issues such as dryness, brittleness and oil production. Hair cycling also allows hair to better absorb the nutrients and proteins from your hair care products,” explains Leland Olson, Style Master at Kevin Murphy.  

What does hair cycling involve?


It's important to regularly clarify your hair to remove build-up

It's important to remember that the hair cycling process will look different for everyone. Your hair texture, type, how often you wash your hair and any issues you have are all determining factors in your choice of routine.

"It's important to remember that the hair cycling process will look different for everyone"

“Once you’ve decided which products you’ll be using, the key is finding the perfect balance, which will allow your hair’s natural oils to do their work without constantly being stripped from the hair. When too much natural oil is stripped from the scalp, this can create more issues,” says Olson. 

Cycle 1  

According to Olson, cycle 1 should consist of using a hair detox or clarifying shampoo to remove product build-up, dirt and debris, as well as mineral deposit or build-up on the hair. “This will allow your shampoo and conditioner to penetrate the hair shaft easier, delivering better results,” he adds. If you have a dry scalp, Olson suggests using a scalp scrub that has spherical beads as they won’t tear up the scalp. “They gently massage away dandruff or impurities for a clean and healthy scalp.” The first part of the cycle is a good opportunity to focus on restoring scalp and hair health using serums and oils to promote growth and shine. Hair cycling pros can add in a treatment to give hair maximum nourishment and care.  

Cycle 2  


Leave-in treatments are a great way to give your hair some extra moister and protection

Cycle 2 involves leaning off any detoxing or clarifying products and focusing on co-washing or conditioning in conjunction with hair treatments. “Too much clarifying on the hair at this stage can lead to breakage, colour loss and drier hair,” Olson says. This stage of the cycle is all about hydration and restoring the hair’s moisture levels. To double up the amount of moisture, you might end up doing a double shampoo. “Incorporating a deeply hydrating masque into the second cycle is also ideal. This will balance moisture levels for frizz free cuticles and ultra smoothness when styling hair,” Olson adds.  

"Once moisture and hydration levels have been restored, you’ll need to use a rich leave-in conditioning product"

The second stage of the hair cycling process involves using more products. Once moisture and hydration levels have been restored, you’ll need to use a rich leave-in conditioning product. “Sometimes, leave-in products can deliver amazing results because you’re leaving all those good ingredients in your hair. Serums, blow-dry oils and bond builders are great options for a leave-in treatment,” Olson says.  

What are the benefits of hair cycling? 

Hair cycling has many benefits but the key to reaping the best of what the routine has to offer is consistency, as Nicola Harrowell at Premier Hair and Makeup, explains. “Some of my clients use many products as part of their routine, but don’t use them long enough to see results. When I enquire about why something isn’t working, it’s often that the product isn’t being used at the right stage of the routine. Density boosting products, for example, need to be used continuously for 3 to 6 months to see a difference.”  

Is hair cycling suitable for all hair types?


While different hair types require different products, all hair can benefit from cycling

Both experts agree that hair cycling is suitable for all hair types, particularly if you have a lot of hair issues that you are looking to solve at once. For those who are new to the trend, Olson suggests taking some inspiration from the skin cycling trend. “Like skin, our hair can react differently to environmental factors and seasonal changes. We might need more hydration on some days or more oil control on others,” he adds.

"Like skin, our hair can react differently to environmental factors and seasonal changes. We might need more hydration on some days or more oil control on others"

Harrowell highlights the importance of consistency if you adopt a hair cycling routine and being mindful of how frequently you use products. “Every time you shampoo your hair, your scalp will produce more oil, so I wouldn’t recommend washing your hair every day for one week and then once the next. This can impact results,” she explains.  

Product recommendations 

A unique scalp scrub that has been designed to scrub away excess impurities. Suitable for all hair types, it contains a blend of perlite, micellar water and celery seed extract and is perfect for use as a pre-wash treatment.  

An ultra-conditioning treatment that is great for replenishing dry, damaged and over-styled hair. Designed to be used weekly and in place of shampoo or conditioner, RE.STORE has been formulated with a unique blend of superfood proteins and amino acids that rebuild and restore elasticity, strength and moisture to reveal smoother, healthier hair.  

This sulphate free shampoo claims to remove 95% of visible build-up after one use when used in conjunction with the full collection. With a formula including sustainably sourced apple cider vinegar which works to purify and smooth hair and ginger root extract, pomegranate seed oil and salicylic acid, it deep cleans the hair and scalp without over-stripping.  

This mask from VIRTUE provides hair with an instant infusion of shine, moisture and resilience without weighing it down. Ideal for all hair types that are damaged or in need of moisture, the formula includes Alpha Keratin 60ku®, which works to invigorate hair with health and nourishment. It’s safe for colour and chemically treated hair. 

Final takeaways  

The most important part of the hair cycling process is the products you choose. Ensuring they are ideal for your hair type, texture and any issues you are having is crucial. “Everyone should have a good detoxifying shampoo, daily shampoo and conditioner, hair masque, treatment, styling product and finishing product,” Olson says. To figure out your ideal hair cycling routine, he recommends the KEVIN.MURPHY product matchmaker quiz. While hair cycling is suitable for all hair types, Harrowell doesn’t advise tapping into trend rashly. “Try things out for a while before drawing your own conclusions, do your own research and always take advice from a professional beforehand.”  

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