How Long It Takes for Skincare Products to Actually Work


When it comes to skincare, many of us are guilty of wanting instant results. We want to see a noticeable difference in the appearance of our skin overnight, and if we don’t, we assume that the product isn’t working. This isn’t always the case. 

From daily cleansers to the all-powerful retinoid, we spoke with a couple of dermatologists to find out when people should expect skincare products to give them the glowing skin of their dreams.

skincare products


Whenever we wash away oil, dirt, and makeup with a cleanser, we see seemingly instant results. However, according to Michele J. Farber, the MD of Schweiger Dermatology Group based in New York City, choosing the right cleanser is the starting point of a great skincare routine. This means that the long-term advantages rely heavily on your goals. 

He adds that if you have dry and sensitive skin, use a gentle ceramide-rich cleanser such as CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser to regenerate your skin barrier and withstand other leave-on products. Farber recommends a salicylic acid wash or glycolic acid instead if you have acne or would like to even out your skin tone. In any case, the long-term perks of face wash are critical to the health of your skin.

Retinoids and Retinols

According to Dr. Joshua Zeichner, retinoids are possibly the most well-studied ingredients available to combat fine lines. He is the Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital which is based in New York City. Nevertheless, he adds that the benefits take a couple of weeks or even months to become apparent. He mentions that peeling and irritation are common side effects in the first few weeks as the skin adapts to the product. “Use it intermittently as tolerated and stick with it,” Zeichner advises.

If you’re not willing to commit to a retinoid product yet and would like to try a less aggressive, over-the-counter alternative, Zeichner recommends choosing one with a stabilized formula. He states that it is critical to select a stabilized product, such as one from RoC. When you believe your skin has hit a plateau, your dermatologist can prescribe a prescription version for you.

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Eye Cream

According to Farber, a good eye cream ought to stimulate elastin and collagen production and contain ingredients that help minimize dark circles and puffiness. Peptides, caffeine, and hyaluronic acid, she says, can help plump skin, and vitamin C can help even out dark circles. Typically, you’ll see results in three to four weeks after using these skincare products.


Exfoliating can be used to remove dead cells that impede light reflection. A physical exfoliant, such as a gritty scrub, follows a manual process to separate dead skin from the surface, whereas a chemical exfoliant utilizes a hydroxy acid to dissolve the bond that exists between skin cells, allowing them to shed. In any case, Farber says it’s a fantastic way to even out your skin tone, and the outcome, while apparently instant, could take several months to see. 

Exfoliation has a synergistic impact with other products because it makes it possible for other creams to penetrate better. So, based on skin type and the form of exfoliation your skin can withstand, you’ll most likely see effects in one month, and three or more for best results.

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Dark Spot Treatments

According to Zeichner, the only way to instantly lighten a dark spot is in the dermatologist’s office with a laser or a peel. Otherwise, topical brighteners take a few weeks to start working.  He mentions botanical ingredients that can help fade dark spots, like the soy complex found in some Aveeno products.

Farber claims that other active ingredients in skincare products such as kojic acid, glycolic acid, vitamin C, azelaic acid, and ferulic acid can also do the job. These can take 1-3 months to see outcomes, and any dark spot treatment must be used SPF 30 or greater, with UVB and UVA protection.


Moisturizers have ingredients that create a protective seal above the skin to pull in water, prevent hydration loss, and soften rough skin cells on the skin’s surface. The skin instantly feels soft and supple, and hydration improves in minutes. Look for hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and glycerin to reap quick and long-term advantages, and for a daytime moisturizer, choose one with SPF protection.