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Starting a New Skincare Routine: How Long It Takes to See Results

In the last few decades, there have been significant evolutions in skincare technology. When it comes to clinical skincare, the industry has made huge leaps in terms of the problems they’re able to solve and the results they’re able to deliver. It’s really quite amazing!

But regardless of how far skincare has come, there are some things that can’t be changed—like time. Convincing skincare consumers to stay the course and stick to their regimen is a challenge that many skincare experts still face. After all, skincare is an investment—and it’s reasonable for people to feel frustrated when they feel like they’re not getting a return on that investment.

But the fact of the matter is, powerful skincare takes time to work. When you apply a serum, a neck cream, or a dark spot corrector, you’re essentially telling your cells what to do. And they need time—and constant encouragement—to do that. So in order to better understand why this is the case, let’s dive in to the ageing process, the role skincare plays in mitigating the effects of ageing, and why patience is key to navigating any new skincare routine.

What happens when we age

Remember your first growth spurt? Much of your formative years are spent growing, a constructive process in which your organs, tissues, and cells build. These building blocks are key to your development as you enter adulthood.

Then, things start to change. Lifestyle choices start to catch up with you. Lots of time spent in the sun, late nights, a lack of exercise, a poor diet—things that didn’t have much of an effect on you during your childhood and early adulthood—start to become more consequential now. You start to notice signs of aging on your face—large pores, dullness, a loss of radiance, wrinkles and fine lines, dark spots.

Well, aging is not a constructive process. It’s a decay process. It’s not as though your body is building a wrinkle, saggy neck, or dark spot; instead, what you’re experiencing is an erosion of certain structures of your skin. Your body runs out of building blocks and becomes less effective at resisting the wear and tear of life. Collagen production is a great example of this. Think of collagen—a protein essential to our skin’s strength and elasticity—as a natural building block. As we age, our body naturally slows down collagen production, causing our skin to weaken and lose elasticity.

Why clinical skincare works to slow down the aging process

Clinical skincare helps to provide the building blocks that you otherwise would lose naturally over time. It gives your cells the tools and support they need to help manage the deconstructive process of aging.

Think of the key functional ingredients of clinical skincare as messengers that tell your body what to do. They encourage your body to get to work rebuilding.

How long it takes to see skincare results

Powerful skincare takes time to work. If you’re thinking about giving up on a new serum or under-eye cream because you haven’t seen any results after a week, think again.  When starting any new skincare routine, wait 8 weeks to see results.

If this seems like an unrealistic time frame for you, it may help to take a deeper look at the different types of skincare and the functional processes behind them, because some skincare products are more superficial than others.

  • Cosmetic Effects: Let’s start with cosmetics. When you apply a BB Cream or a tinted moisturizer, you may instantly feel radiant, toned, and glowing. But a lot of that effect is purely optical, as is the nature of cosmetics. So while you may look better instantly, you’re not immediately addressing the underlying mechanisms of why your skin is the way it is.
  • Moisture Repair: Similarly, some products, like those focused on moisturization, have an instant effect that doesn’t last particularly long. These are the products that contain plant-based oils, omegas, or glycerin—like a hand cream. The hand cream functions through nonbiological pathways, covering the skin, filling in cracks, and allowing moisture to build up on the skin without evaporating away. It’s not as though your skin is suddenly producing more moisture, it’s more of an artificial process that helps keep everything intact.
  • Underlying Mechanisms: Now, if you want to get at more underlying mechanisms, you’re going to need to give it time. Our cells are pretty phenomenal in terms of what they can build, but they don’t work very quickly. On top of that, they need a consistent feedback loop of regular care and nourishment. So, when you apply a product with a key functional ingredient, you’re essentially sending your body a signal. It starts to build. But then that signal turns off—and you have to resend the signal by applying the product again. It takes time and consistency. That’s why most clinical skincare needs to be applied daily (to maintain the feedback loop) and needs time to show results (so that the building blocks are actually able to get to work).

What to do when your routine still isn’t working

If you’re not seeing results after 8 weeks, don’t assume that the ingredient doesn’t work for you. There are too many factors at play here—how much of the ingredient is actually in the formula, how stabilized the formula is, what other complementary ingredients are also in the formula. Instead, consider trying out a different product. Here are some tips to help with that:

  • Turn to more scientific brands. Brands that do research and clinical testing offer the results of that research to consumers—and that data is important.
  • Look for brands that validate their claims with numbers. If a brand claims that their products “smooth wrinkles,” do they say how much? By half a percent? By 20 percent? The more a skincare brand is able to validate their claims, the better.
  • Talk to family members about their skincare routine and what products they use. Your genetics are a huge influencer in terms of how you age. What works for a parent or sibling will likely work for you as well.
  • Talk to friends with similar complexions and lifestyles. If your best friend is similar to you in terms of diet, exercise, lifestyle choices, and complexion, then you two will likely harmonize over what products to use.

Remember, patience is key. Take a methodical approach to your skincare—apply your products daily, focus on self-care, and be kind to your body. You’ll start to see results before you know it.

Still feeling frustrated with your skincare routine? Here are 4 signs you’re using the wrong product.