How long should you wait to see results after trying a new skincare product?

There are so many brands and products available in the market today that claim and promise to do wonders for our skin. But the question is how can you tell if the product is working and how long should you even wait? Read on to find the answer to some of the more pressing questions that have probably crossed your mind.

How do you know if a product is working?

The general rule of thumb is to wait for a month or so - the turnover rate of skin cells is roughly 28 days. This means that it takes 28 days for your skin to shed and then be replaced by new cells.

If you are using a cleanser, toner or even a moisturiser that contains ingredients such as AHAs (alpha-hydroxy acids), BHAs (Beta-Hydroxy acids), Vitamin C, Niacinamide and even Retinol, you may experience what is called skin purging. Purging is a phase in which you may experience breakouts when you are starting out with a new product. What happens with these kinds of products is that the cell turnover rate increases; this means that cells are being renewed at a faster rate so existing tiny pimples may quickly turn into larger ones.

Organic skin care products also result in purging as they are different from the formulations the skin is accustomed to.

When you introduce such products into your skincare routine, be sure to be gradual about them and really take the time to understand and see how your skin is reacting to them. Generally, it takes around 3 to 4 weeks for the skin to adjust to such products. If you experience any burning or redness, it means the product is either too strong for your skin or is not suited to it and you should discontinue using it.

Cleanser: Instant

With cleansers, a few things to keep in mind: make sure your face doesn’t feel tight after a cleanse. That would probably mean the product is too harsh for you and is stripping away your skin’s moisture.

Toner: 2 to 3 uses

Most toners exist to add some hydration back to the skin, restore the pH balance of our skin and help the products that follow absorb better into the skin. Like with cleansers, toners also will show you instant results.

Acid/Chemical Exfoliant: 1 to 8 weeks

If you purge, be patient. The phase lasts for around 4 weeks following which you may begin to experience results - brighter skin, even texture and tone, and reduced acne and blackheads (especially if you are using an exfoliant containing Salicylic Acid which is great against acne). Depending on your skin, it can be one to eight weeks before you see results though.

Serums: Varies

Let's mention serums for different actions

Hydration: 1 to 3 uses

Britening: 2 to 8 weeks

Anti-aging: 6 to 12 weeks

Serums are concentrated formulas containing a very high concentration of active ingredients. They are thinner than your moisturisers and are to be applied after your toners or mist. Serums are composed of smaller molecules and thus penetrate deeper into the skin. They are a great product for targeting specific skin concerns such as dullness, dryness, acne, large pores etc. With serums, it can take 6 to 8 weeks before you start seeing results.

Moisturiser: 1 to 3 uses

Good moisturisers tend to have a quick effect on your skin - it will feel plump, soft and hydrated. You may also experience a radiant glow, depending on the kind of ingredients present.

Facial Oil: 2 to 6 weeks

With facial oils, especially truly organic ones you may experience a purging phase. Once that subsides, a facial oil acts as a moisturiser of sorts. You will feel your skin becoming more soft, plump and radiant. Since most facial oils contain some active ingredients, it may take some time for your skin to adjust and show you results.

Face Mask: Instant results

Masks are one of those products with which you will experience a noticeable change. If it is a hydrating mask, your skin will feel more plump and hydrated after using the mask; if it is a detoxifying mask, your skin will feel cleaner after use; if it is brightening, you will notice a radiant glow after use.

This is an image to show how long skincare products like serum, cleanser and mask takes to start working and showing results on the face.

Can a product be effective without causing a burning or tingling sensation?

It depends on the product you are using really. If you are using a chemical exfoliant, a Niacinamide or a Vitamin C product, for example then you might experience a tingling sensation. But this is only temporary! As your skin adjusts to the new product, this sensation should go away as well.

If this sensation continues, then that’s a sign that the product might be too strong for you. It also may mean that your acid mantle (skin barrier) has been disrupted.

How can you tell if your acid mantle has been disrupted?

The acid mantle exists to protect your skin from external factors. So if it has been disrupted, you will probably notice that your skin has become more sensitive. Since the skin is exposed, it might try to recover and re-balance itself producing more sebum and making your skin oily. You might experience breakouts, flakiness of the skin and general redness.

All these signs mean your acid mantle has been compromised.

Can you make a product work faster?

There are certain things you can do to make sure that your products work effectively -

  1. Apply your serum or moisturiser when your skin is slightly damp. This helps the product absorb better. This is also one of the ways in which a toner really helps.
  2. Exfoliating is a really important part of your skincare routine but you must not go overboard with it. Exfoliate 2 to 3 times a week. Exfoliation helps get rid of dead cells that may prevent your other products from absorbing properly.
  3. Using products in the correct order is key to seeing results too. Start from thinnest and go to thickest:
cleanser > toner/mist/chemical exfoliant > serum > moisturiser > face oil
This is an image showing how to use skin products effectively to show maximum results

What are the signs a product is not working for you?

Earlier, we talked about waiting 4 to 5 weeks before deciding whether your product is not working for you. Here are a few other tips for you to keep in mind

  1. You are breaking out a lot: If you are past the 3 to 4 weeks of purging and are still experiencing breakouts when using either an organic product or an acid, Vitamin C, Retinol and others, that means that the product is just not suited to your skin. For any other product, if it is making you break out, it is not suitable for your skin type.
  2. You are experiencing itchiness: For the first few uses, itchiness and tingling when applying a product such as a chemical exfoliant are understandable especially if you are new to acids or have opted for a higher concentration but if that is not the case then you should not be experiencing itchiness or tingling at all!
  3. Your face feels tight after cleansing: This should not happen and is indicative of a compromised acid mantle. After cleansing, your face should still feel hydrated and not tight.

this is an image showing the signs to know if a skincare products is working on not

Summary

The key to making sure you get the most out of a product, and out of your skincare routine, is to be consistent and patient! Skincare is an investment - of time and money. If you are struggling with skin issues such as acne, it will take time for the products to work and while it is not easy being patient, you have to be kind to yourself and let the process run its course! Depending on what kind of product it is, wait for atleast a month or upto 5 to 6 weeks before giving up on a product.

-By Gauri Sindhu

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