The number one reason your skincare isn’t working?
You’re not giving it enough time to do the job.
Look, I get it. When you’ve got pimples to zap, dark spots to fade and skin to tighten, you don’t want to wait around. You want results. Now.
But hopping around from skincare product to skincare product isn't the answer. Nothing works that fast (if it claims to, it’s lying).
On the other hand, you don’t want to use a skincare product for 3 months only to realise you’ve been wasting your time.
Surely, there must be a way to know when it’s worth it to stick to a product for long and when it’s best to switch - fast?
It kinda depends on what skincare product you’re using and what it supposed to do. Here’s our professional guide on how long you can expect to wait for each type of skincare product to work:
Cleansers are perhaps the most satisfying skincare product to use. They work straight away!
One minute, you’ve got a full face of makeup on, plus the odd dirt and impurities. The next, everything’s melted away and your skin’s squeaky clean and soft.
If it takes you more than a couple of minutes to cleanse your face, that’s a sign your cleanser isn’t up to the job. Dry skin types should opt an oil-based cleanser that takes everything off quickly without drying out your skin. And a Glycolic cleanser is great to have in your arsenal for weekly polishing and buffing away of those dull skin cells that don't slough off on their own.
Moisturizers: 1-2 Days
Let’s get one thing straight: when I say moisturizer, I mean every skincare product that promises to moisturize and hydrate your skin.
Hydration is a quick job. Usually, moisturizing products either draw water from the air and bind it into the skin or they create a barrier on the skin that slows down water loss. If you hit the jackpot, they do both.
Either way, results are quick. After the first application, you’ll notice your skin become a little softer and plumper. The extra hydration fills in fine lines and wrinkles, too, so they look smaller.
If your skin’s very dry to the point of flakiness, it’ll take the cream a few days to nurse it back to health. Still, you should start to see an improvement pretty quickly.
Exfoliants: Overnight To 2 Weeks
Exfoliants fall into two categories: physical and chemical.
Physical exfoliants use small particles like salt and sugar to manually remove dead cells from the surface of the skin. The effect is immediate. After each use, you’ll notice your skin become smoother and brighter.
Chemical exfoliants use acids like glycolic, lactic and salicylic to dissolve the “glue” that holds skin cells together. Again, you should see results pretty quickly: usually overnight or within a day.
That’s just the beginning. Two weeks must pass before you can reap the full benefits of chemical exfoliants. I’m talking about skin as soft as baby. A complexion that’s glowing as if lit-from-within. And much smaller pores.
Isn’t that worth the wait?
Antiaging Products: 3+ Months
There are two types of antiaging products: those that prevent wrinkles and those that firm collagen.
The first kind uses antioxidants. These work by destroying free radicals BEFORE they give you wrinkles and dark spots. So how can you tell they’re working on wrinkles if you don’t have those wrinkles yet?
You can’t. Not anytime soon. Not within a month. Or a year. But if you stick with them, 10 years down the line, you’ll notice you’re aging more slowly and gracefully than your friends.
Collagen-boosting products are more rewarding. They use retinol, vitamin C, and Matrixyl 3000 (to name just a few of the most powerful collagen-boosters) that trigger your cells to produce more collagen. The more collagen your skin has, the firmer and younger it looks.
Again, this doesn’t happen overnight though. It takes around 3 months for your collagen metabolism to change. So if you’re using a product that claims to firm or tighten your skin, you need to stick with it for that long before deciding if it works or not.
Skin-lighteners: 2 Months
Skin-lighteners fade away dark spots by inhibiting the production of melanin.
It works like this: melanin is the pigment that gives skin its beautiful, natural colour. When all is well, melanocytes (the cells that produce melanin) all make just the right amount of melanin, giving your skintone an even hue.
But overtime, some of the cells get damaged (blame it on UV rays) and start producing more melanin than their colleagues. Cue dark spots.
When you use ingredients that can inhibit the production of melanin, melanocytes stop producing excess pigment. Slowly, your skin goes back to its natural color.
This skin-lightening process can take at least 2 months - and that’s when you use the product twice a day, morning and night. Use it less often, it’ll take you double the time to see significant results. Also, using something to lightly exfoliate can help speed the process as well. The faster those old darkened cells are removed, the faster the new (lighter) cells can reach the surface and the sooner you will start seeing a more even skin tone.
A few examples of skin-lighteners are niacinamide, bearberry extract and kojic acid. They take a while to work but are worth sticking to. Oh, and always remember to wear your sunscreen when lightening - a day out in the sun can quickly un-do all your hard work!
Sunscreen: A Few Years
Sunscreen is the most important product in your skincare arsenal. It prevents up to 90% of premature aging (including wrinkles and dark spots), protects you from skin cancers and helps you avoid sunburns.
In other words, a sunscreen’s action is preventative. If a sunscreen is doing its job properly, you won’t see results anytime soon.
But trust me, a few years down the line, you’ll be glad you stuck with it. The more religiously you use your sunscreen, the fewer wrinkles and dark spots you’ll have to fight down the road.
Acne Products: 2 Weeks To 1 Month
Acne is the worst. It doesn’t just rob you of clear skin. It takes away your confidence, too. At its worst, you don’t even want to leave the house.
If there’s a product you want to work quickly, this is it. Still, you need to be realistic. Depending on the type of acne you’re dealing with, it may take anywhere from a few days to a month to see results.
If you’re just dealing with a pimple or two, a spot-treatment with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid can take only a few short days to work.
Benzoyl peroxide works by killing the bacteria that causes acne while salicylic acid is an exfoliant that removes the excess sebum and dead cells stuck in your pores. Acne bacteria love to feed on that gunk. When you unclog the pores, you’re starving the bacteria.
If you have cystic or severe acne, you may need a harsher prescription treatment. You’ll still be able to see a small improvement within a few short days, but it can take up to 1 month or longer for your acne to disappear completely.
And remember also, sometimes it gets worse before it gets better. Good acne products can quickly unclog your pores, but then your skin purges all that acne that has just been laying in wait -- all at once. It can be horrifying if you are new to the acne-purge game, but the good news is you get it all over with now, then have clear skin to look forward to in a couple of weeks.
Be patient. You’ll get there.
The Bottom Line
Good skincare products rarely give you instant results. Instead of hopping from product to product, give them time to do the job. Only if they give you a rash or a breakout, ditch them straight away. Even if they’re able to do the job, they obviously don’t agree with your skin!