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How Long Before Skincare Routine Starts Working?

If you have just started a new skincare routine, expecting immediate gratification is the fastest way to get disappointed. This means that if you are jumping on a much-lauded skincare regimen because you have an event in the next few days, you may as well not bother. 

Experts say that it is not realistic to expect significant improvements in anything less than a week, much less overnight. However, the timeline to see changes vary from person to person. For some, it may be three weeks, for others, it may be the whole month. However, there is one secret ingredient that will make the wait appear faster than it actually is, and that is patience. 

In this article, we take a look at some of the popular skincare product categories and how long you will likely wait before seeing improvements.

Facial cleansers

The problem with almost all types of cleansers is that it does not stay on the skin long enough to have any noticeable effect, regardless of whether you use it once or several times daily. Of course, it will cleanse your skin, but that is the limit of its effect.

That said, if you suffer from dry and itchy skin, blemishes, oily skin, or just about any issue associated with grime and dirt on the skin, it may take as much as 30 days of consistent usage to see an improvement. If you are switching facial cleansers because you want to get rid of these foreign elements from your face, you can expect to see transformative effects from the first month, as long as you are consistent with your new regimen. 


Moisturizers are ideal if you have oily skin or skin that is prone to breakouts. And unlike facial cleansers, you will likely experience the effects of an effective moisturizer almost immediately. In fact, as soon as your skin absorbs the product, you will feel your skin becoming happy. However, that does not mean the situation has been resolved. You will likely need consistent application for the next 14 days to see significant improvements.

It is therefore advisable to wait for the 2-week mark before approving or writing off your new moisturizer. In fact, there are skin types that transform into naturally balanced, soft-feeling skin in just one week, but two weeks is the standard benchmark. 

Keep on your routine for a few more weeks to determine if your skin can maintain its texture on its own or if the moisturizer will become a permanent fixture in your skincare routine.

Dark spots removal

Dark spots and blemishes, mostly caused by hyperpigmentation can be difficult to remove, but not impossible. However, it typically takes between two to three months for all the spots to be completely eliminated. 

Vibs Amin, Founder of Okana New Zealand Natural Skincare Products explain that there are over-the-counter products that contain really strong ingredients like hydroquinone, which means that you may see changes a lot faster, however, in a lot of cases, the skin tend to react negatively to hardcore products like these and may lead to further problems. 

That said, if you really must get rid of dark spots quickly and don’t want to wait for one or two months, then you may want to have your dermatologist recommend a fast-action product for you. If you use this and see no improvements after one month, chances are it will not work.

If you are comfortable with the slow and steady system, be ready to commit at least two months of consistency. Also, remember to use a sunscreen with a reasonable level of SPF when going out under the sun. 

Acne treatments

The thing with acne treatments is that there is no fixed timeline for how fast they work. In the first place, improvements depend a lot on the severity of the acne case, your skin type, and the regimen you are using. It can also be influenced by whether you are combining other products for other treatments. For example, you may have one product for acne treatment and a different product for hyperpigmentation. The unfortunate truth is that if you are not careful, one can be canceling out the other. 

That said, over-the-counter acne treatments are known to take up to three months before you will notice any significant improvement. If your dermatologist recommends any topical medication, you may be looking at anywhere in the range of six weeks. This is the time it will take your body to absorb the ingredients in order to work. Oral medications will take about three weeks of consistent usage before you can begin to notice the transformative effects.

The only procedure that is known for its fast-acting properties is cortisone shots. These must be administered by a professional, and even then, it may take about 24 hours or more before the redness and swelling subside. 

Retinol products

Retinol products are effective and quite popular in treating wrinkles, fine lines, acne, and hyperpigmentation. However, it can irritate your skin. If you are not ready to live with this side effect while treating the problem, you may want to consider another approach.

Retinol products typically take about four weeks to show noticeable results, so don’t write it off too soon.

If you intend to use this treatment, be sure to apply it gradually into your routine to minimize the irritation effects. Start with small amounts every night until your skin has gotten used to it. 

You will definitely notice redness and irritation in the first few weeks regardless, but once you can discover the best way to use it, you will notice improvements within a month. 

Final words

Getting started with a new skincare routine can be difficult. And discovering the effective regime will require patience, commitment, and a bit of luck. If you encounter any issues with a new regime, seek expert help. It is also a good idea to get your dermatologist’s input before attempting any new skincare product. He or she can help you build an effective skincare regime from scratch.