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GR8NESS expert Expert Reviewed
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Are Your Skin Care Products Working? How Long Should You Wait to Know?

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Overnight? One day? Three months? We all hope our skincare products start working the moment we apply them. After all, if you just purchased $100+ luxury skincare products, expecting automatic results isn’t crazy. If you’re anything like me, waiting to see if your latest skincare splurge will pay off drives you crazy. Here’s the real timeline that shows how long you should expect to make sure your skincare products are working.

Cleansers: 30 Days

Of course, your skin feels differently immediately after using a cleanser. However, all the beautiful benefits linked to your favorite cleanser ingredients won’t be noticeable for about a month. Getting rid of bacteria, makeup, and dead skin cells buildup will pay off if you make cleansing part of your skincare routine. Make sure your skin feels soft and smooth, not dry or tight. If your skin feels like the latter, try switching your cleanser for a more gentle formula.

Toners: 1 to 2 Weeks

First of all, make sure you’re using an alcohol-free toner to prevent irritation or over-drying your skin. In about two weeks, you should be able to notice a significant improvement in pore size and redness control. Ideally, your redness is calm, your skin pores look diminished, and your skin looks radiant. That’s how you can tell it’s working.

Serums: 6 to 8 Weeks

Even though serums are highly concentrated, they’re taking on an incredible task. Diminishing the appearance of wrinkles, fighting free radicals, bringing luminescence back to your complexion – not so easy to tackle. Give your favorite serum a good eight weeks to notice significant differences. Of course, the differences will only be noticeable if you are diligent about your serum application.

Moisturizers: Immediately or 2 to 8 Weeks

I was once guilty of skipping moisturizing because I have combination-to-oily skin. Later on, thanks to my dermatologists and my healthy skincare obsession, I learned that everyone needs moisturizer. The good thing is that you can tell the difference immediately for most skin types. If you have overly dry skin, give your moisturizer about two weeks to start making progress. Remember, they’re trying to repair months if not years of damage. It can’t happen overnight.

Eye Creams: 6 to 8 Weeks (Hopefully)

My relationship with eye creams is not the best one. Struggling with dark eyes myself, I switch between eye creams and natural remedies to treat my puffy eyes. Well, over-the-counter eye creams can help re-hydrate the area and keep your under-eye skin smooth. However, they won’t tackle wrinkles or darkness, for that you need prescription-strength goodies. If, after eight weeks, you notice no difference, it’s time to break up.

Sunscreen: Immediately

They don’t call me the sunscreen patrol for no reason. Sunscreen creates an instant protection layer on your skin to make sure there’s no sun damage. Ideally, though, you should apply sunscreen at least 20 minutes before heading out to make sure it’s dry and ready to defend you against the sun.

Exfoliants: Immediately or 5 to 14 Days

The only way to make room for your renewed skin is by getting rid of what’s sitting on the surface – aka dead skin cells. To make that happen, you need either a chemical or a physical exfoliant, such as an exfoliant brush. For most chemical peels, you’ll see an initial improvement immediately, since your skin will feel smoother and softer. However, the real results, meaning diminished fine lines and dark spots, will start showing up after five days. That’s also the reason why you shouldn’t exfoliate too often.

Retinols and Retinoids: 10 Weeks for OTC and 4 to 6 Weeks for Prescription

The holy grail of skincare products. I was introduced to retinoids early in my 20s, and I’m so grateful I was. They can tackle anything from acne, dark spots, fine lines, deeper wrinkles, firmness, the list is endless. However, be mindful of the type of product you’re using. Most over-the-counter retinol will start working after ten weeks of regular use. If you get a prescription-strength retinoid instead, expect to see results by week four if not earlier.

Dark Spot Treatments: 3 to 4 Weeks

When you use dark spot correction treatments, either over-the-counter or prescription-strength, you better know that there are some hardcore ingredients in there. Think hydroquinone, for example, a strong chemical that helps exfoliate the skin. This is why you should be able to see results rather quickly. If you keep using these treatments for over four weeks without some significant effects, it’s time to move away.

Acne Treatments: 24 Hours to 12 Weeks

It truly depends on the type of product, the severity of your acne, and the other products in your acne-fighting skincare routine. Zit-zapping acne treatments usually work overnight to bring down swelling and redness. However, overall topical acne medications will take longer to have a noticeable effect. This is when you need to arm yourself with patience.

Skin Lightening Treatments: 6 to 12 Weeks

If you’re using a discoloration treatment, you want to be very patient and careful. Make sure you are religiously applying sunscreen while using these products since your skin becomes more photo-sensitive. That means applying sunscreen even at night. If you don’t see significant results after ten weeks, don’t bother, this formulation might not be the right strength for you. Consult with your dermatologist to find the right alternative.

A Note from GR8NESS

In the end, the one advice I can give you to get control over your skin – be patient. This was something I always struggled with when I was trying to erase my acne overnight. Fortunately, I learned to take a step back, trust my products – and my dermatologist – and waited for these products to work their absolute magic.

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Geraldine
GR8NESS Writer
Geraldine is a GR8NESS Contributing Editor who writes about self care, clean makeup and beauty, mental health, and relationships – as well as natural remedies and fitness. She’s a coffee enthusiast with Venezuelan roots, a former ballerina, and the sunscreen patrol. Most of the time, you can find her working on her skincare routine or trying a new dance workout.
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