If you’re just getting started on your skincare journey, you’ve probably spent a significant amount of time researching your products and are eager to start using them. But what most people don’t realize is that skincare regimens hardly ever work overnight.
You might be dedicated to your skincare routine morning and night but be disappointed when you don’t see results right away. At this point, you might be asking yourself, “Why isn’t this working? Are these products not right for my skin?”
In reality, different products will take different lengths of time to really start making a visible difference in your skin. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t working! It just means you might need to use them for a while longer to see a more drastic change. Before you toss out your skincare products because they “aren’t working,” here’s what you should know.
Acne and general skincare regimens
Skincare products everywhere boast raving reviews from users who reported skin improvements shortly after using them. But if you’re expecting to use a new cleanser or apply a face mask for just a few days and see magical improvements in your skin’s brightness or clarity, you’re probably going to be disappointed.
Generally, skincare experts say that users see the biggest results from their skincare products after 28 days—yes, four whole weeks. This might seem like a really long time, but it makes sense when you consider what has to happen for changes to appear on the outermost layers of your skin.
As you’re applying products to your skin, skin cells must grow, mature, die and shed—and every cell is at a different point in the process. This cycle typically takes 28 days to complete. If you’re applying a new skincare regimen for each of those 28 days, all your cells will eventually be exposed to the new treatment and will be able to show real results.
This is just a general rule, though. Some products are capable of working and showing results faster than others. For example, moisturizers may only need two weeks to create a noticeable difference in your skin’s moisture barrier.
Unfortunately, if you suffer from skin problems like acne, dark spots and bumps, the process might take even longer. Acne or hyperpigmentation products generally target problem areas deeper within the skin. Your products need more time to penetrate deeper and correct those problems, often on multiple layers. Therefore, experts say you should give those products four to eight weeks to really show their results.
There’s another interesting thing to note about acne skincare products, as well. If you suffer from acne and have just begun a new skincare regimen, you might notice that your acne gets worse—not better. Naturally, you might start to panic, thinking the products are breaking you out.
Really, what might be happening is something called “purging.” As your new products go to work on the layers of your skin, they’re working to draw bacteria and dead skin cells to the surface so they can clear and heal. This doesn’t mean your skincare is causing the breakout. In many cases, it’s actually working overtime to remove problems from your skin. After a few weeks, you should notice much clearer, healthier skin.
Anti-aging and skin texture regimens
Some skincare products are more targeted toward longer-lasting effects, like anti-aging products designed to reduce fine lines and wrinkles and brighten, smooth and plump the skin. Some of these products might be topical, like retinoids, while others might be taken orally, like collagen supplements.
For these types of products, you might need to wait months to see actual results. Many of these products work on a genetic level and stimulate your natural bodily processes, meaning your cells need to adjust to the presence of the product and will show results after new skin cell growth.
When should you stop using a product?
So, if you’re supposed to wait up to a few months to really gauge the effectiveness of a product, how do you know when to stop using a new product? Anytime you begin using a new product, keep an eye out for immediate signs of a reaction from your skin, including pain, stinging, redness, blotchiness and swelling. You might be having an allergic reaction to the product’s ingredients, or the product might be too harsh for your skin type. If you notice these symptoms, stop using the product immediately.
You also should be mindful of how your new skincare products are interacting with each other. Over-exfoliating, using too many acidic products or using products with ingredients that might not blend well can lead to skin irritation and negative results, too.
If you’re starting with an entirely new skincare routine, try introducing only one product every week or two. This helps you narrow down which product might be causing irritation or isn’t right for your skin.
Overall, the key to making lasting skin improvements is consistency. If you start a new skincare regimen, use it regularly for a few weeks before assessing your results, then make informed decisions to remove or swap a product for the healthiest skin possible.