How long does it take for skincare products to start working?

How long does it take for skincare products to start working?

If you’ve been on your skincare journey for a while, it’s likely you’ve been through the ‘throw everything on your face until it sticks’ phase. While experimenting to a degree is encouraged to find the right products for you, introducing too many different formulas can also aggravate and exacerbate the very skin concerns you’re trying to treat.

We’re all guilty of purchasing new skincare products with the hopes they will magically fix all our skin's woes overnight, only to be incredibly disheartened when we don’t wake up to perfect skin. When it comes to your skin, much like dieting, there is no such thing as a ‘quick fix’ and the only way to see results that will last is by keeping up a regular routine. But don’t give up on your products if they don’t start to work immediately! Like most things in life the key to getting results is to be consistent (and patient), if after a few months, the products still aren’t agreeing with your skin or giving you the results you were hoping for only then might it be time to reevaluate.

So for those times when things just don’t seem to be working out, how long should you wait before you write off the product altogether?


How long does it take for skincare to work?

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. There are a multitude of variables at play when it comes to your skin from the type of products, the ingredients used and even your individual lifestyle choices and skin cycle and all play a part in how long skincare will take to start working. Generally speaking, however, it takes about 28 days for our skin cells to turn over, which means the majority of products require you to wait a month (at least) before you will start seeing noticeable results. The time taken may differ from product to product as well, so let’s take you through a few of them…

Cleansers: Immediately to one month

Usually, cleansers will take the least amount of time to start working. While this may contradict our earlier statement that there is no quick fix, technically a cleanser's job is to clean the skin and therefore it does start to work ‘immediately’ to some degree. To know whether your cleanser is doing its job your face should look clean and even-toned, with dirt and makeup removed. Your skin should also feel soft and smooth rather than dry and tight.

That being said, you may be using a cleanser that has an extra function too such as combating blemishes. If this is the case then you should give it at least a month for these other functions to kick in.

If you’re looking for an all-rounder it’s hard to beat the Skinsmiths Gentle Cream Cleanser. This silky emollient-rich formula will tick all the boxes a cleanser should work to remove makeup and daily impurities while also injecting protective hydration to nourish dry and sensitive skin.

Toners: 1-2 weeks

Much like cleansers toners also help to clean and prep the skin for your serums and moisturisers. That being said, the effects should be noticeable relatively quickly. But just because toners serve a practical purpose, doesn’t make them any less important. Especially if you suffer from acne, toners will help to give the skin an extra clean to ensure that there are no nasties left lying around. It also helps to smooth, soften and calm angry skin.

However, toner should not technically be treated as an extra step of cleansing and if you’re finding that you often still have makeup, sunscreen or other grime on your cotton pad after cleansing this may be a sign that you’re not cleansing your face properly. While toner does help to clean the skin, toners also have added benefits such as hydration, removing excess oil, and pore refinement. Expect to wait at least two weeks to see these changes in the skin.

The ultimate restorative elixir can be found in the Skinsmiths Active Clarifying Toner. This clarifying solution will prep the skin during your skincare ritual, restoring and balancing skin pH, sebum and moisture levels after cleansing. This will make sure you are getting the most out of your moisturising products that come after!

Retinol: 4-6 weeks

First things first, what is it? Retinol is a type of retinoid (an umbrella term for the entire family of over-the-counter and prescription vitamin A derivatives). While all different products will vary in strength and concentration, it’s best known for its ability to plump, firm and diminish the appearance of wrinkles on the skin.

Retinol works by accelerating the rate of cell turnover in the skin, which means your skin is producing new cells more often. This boosts collagen and elastin production which causes the skin to appear plumper and smoother, basically, all the good stuff.

When it comes to how long it takes to see results, this will come down largely to the strength of the product you’ve chosen. But this doesn’t mean you should opt for the highest-strength retinol! The stronger the percentage, the stronger the side effects we’re afraid. Like with any active skincare ingredients, it’s always best to start small and build up over time. High-strength retinols can often leave your skin looking worse than it did, to begin with, and you may experience flaking and discomfort for the first couple of weeks. If you chose a low-strength retinol these side effects should be moderate and should subside after the first week or so. Overall, you should expect to see smoother, brighter skin in as little as 4-6 weeks.

The Skinsmiths PRO Strength Retinol is suited for beginners and retinol connoisseurs alike. Activated by a synergistic retinol + phyto retinol blend that works to amplify cellular renewal for younger-looking skin and infused with Sodium Hyaluronate to provide deeper hydration that helps firm and plump the skin.

Other serums: 6-8 weeks

Depending on your individual skin goals, there is a suite of serums available. Each serum will come with its own timeframe and will also depend largely on the extent of your skin concerns. However, as a general rule of thumb when it comes to most serums you can expect to see results in 4-6 weeks however remember to be realistic. If you are suffering from severe acne, for example, it may take longer for this to subside. Be patient, even if the results are small these will continue to build up over time!

Vitamin-C-based products might take a little longer to work, again depending largely on the strength and the severity of the issue you’re trying to fix of course. We recommend giving these serums 6-8 weeks before they truly start to work.

Eye creams: 4-8 weeks

The skin under our eyes is not in fact equal to the rest of our face, and this requires special attention and formulation. The delicate skin is actually up to 10 times thinner, which makes it more permeable (or likely to absorb product) and shows deep veins more clearly.

Because the skin is designed in this way, it makes it more prone to losing moisture and as a result becoming dry. This is why quite often people will notice fine lines and wrinkles around their eyes and crowfeet area before anywhere else on their face. It’s not your imagination! This skin does become less springy and plump faster.

Depending on the severity of the tiredness or fine lines you are experiencing in this area, eye creams generally take around 4-8 weeks to start working. With the under-eye area especially it’s important to remember that often external factors such as lack of sleep, stress or poor hydration will have the biggest impact. Unfortunately, all the eye creams in the world won’t be able to reverse the effects of poor lifestyle habits!

If you are yet to find the right eye cream for you, the PRO Collagen Eye Complex might be the answer. This ceramide-enriched targeted eye treatment will take care of your delicate skin around the eyes, working to diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Face moisturisers: 1-2 weeks

If you apply a generous amount of creamy moisturiser, you should be able to feel that your skin instantly becomes more hydrated. However, to see long-lasting results of moisturisers it should only take roughly 1-2 weeks.

If you want a moisturiser that goes the distance try the Complete Recovery Moisturiser. This advanced hydration works to seal in moisture while also repairing and protecting the skin barrier.

AHA/BHA: Right away but peaks at 12 weeks

AHAs and BHAs are some of the most talked about skincare ingredients on the market and with good reason! These liquid exfoliators are essentially mild acids that remove things that can dull skin such as dead skin cells and clogged pores. AHAs are water-soluble and are great for treating dull, lacklustre skin, while BHAs are all about unclogging pores and work wonders for oily, acne-prone skin.

While you may start to notice the effects right away, slow and steady wins the race and if used correctly you should see the best results after roughly 12 weeks.

The Resurfacing AHA/BHA Peel will reset your skin overnight to reveal your very best skin. This multi-acid exfoliating peel is inspired by the clinic and will resurface and revitalise your skin for a clearer and more radiant complexion. For long-lasting results use this peel twice a week for 5-10 minutes before applying serum and moisturiser. 

The key to a perfect skincare routine is that practice really does make perfect and unfortunately, there is a fair amount of trial and error before you find your perfect routine. It also pays to remember that everyone is different so just because something works for one person, doesn’t mean it will work the same for you. Try not to compare yourself to others as we are all on our own individual skin journey! Making sure you have the right products and are consistent with them is the best secret to success.