DISCOVER HOW TO CURE ACNE | 04how long does it take for skincare products to actually workhow long does it take for skincare products to actually work 2

How long Does It Take for Skincare Products to Actually Work?

DISCOVER HOW TO CURE ACNE | banish how long products work

by Kali Kushner

Patience is a virtue, especially when it comes to waiting on your skincare routine to begin showing results. When struggling with a breakout, dull skin, or fine lines we start a new product or regimen and expect to see results soon. If we don’t see results? We stop using it or return it.

Could it be possible that we’re hindering results by not giving our products a fighting chance and giving up too quickly?

Today I want to talk about how long it actually takes for skincare products to work, how soon it realistically takes to see results, and when it’s time to call it quits.

How Long Does It Take For Products To Work?

In general, skincare products for skin issues like acne, hyperpigmentation, or fine lines can take on average anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks to really work and see noticeable results.  

A full skin cycle takes about 5 to 6 weeks on average.  People who are younger like in their teen years may have a faster skin cycle under 30 days. As we age, a full skin cycle can take longer on the 6 week end.

So, at the bare minimum give your skin at least 6 weeks before deciding whether or not a new routine is working for you.

At three months a new routine should level itself out and you should be seeing the results for majority of skincare products.

Here’s How Long It Takes For Different Products To Work


You should be able to tell if a cleanser is right or wrong for you after the first use. If it leaves your skin feeling tight, irritated, red, itchy, or dry go ahead and ditch it.

When looking for a balanced cleanser be sure to test its pH level, making sure it’s around a 5.5 ph or slightly acidic. 

Alkaline cleansers can strip the acid mantle and leave your skin vulnerable to acne causing bacteria and other environmental damage. 

If your skin is very dry, you may need a creamy type cleanser,  and oilier skin may take to foaming or gel type cleansers more.  Note that oil or balm based cleansers are typically designed as a first cleanse to be followed up with a more clarifying foaming cleanser.  


Toners take 3 weeks of consistent use to see results with pore size and redness. Like cleansers, you should be seeing results fairly quickly.  If you notice redness, irritation, or small clogged pores after using your toner, immediately discontinue use!

Many toners are not properly formulated, containing sensitizing fragrances, irritating essential oils, or drying isopropyl alcohol so if your skin is sensitive or prone to acne try to avoid toners with those ingredients. 

Some toners are designed to exfoliate skin, if so there might be some initial purging. 


With a moisturizer, is possible to see overnight improvement in terms of skin moisture depending on your previous regimen.

If you have dryness or tingly skin due to an impaired skin barrier, minor skin barrier damage can repair within 2 weeks, and it can take up to 6 months to completely heal the skin barrier for more severe damage and dryness.

If your skin feels too dry, or too oily by the middle of the day it may be time to switch formulas.  Use the right moisturizer for your skin type.  Oily skin types need moisture too, and may fare better with a thinner water based or oil free moisturizer compared to dry skin.  Look for humectant ingredients like glycerin in your moisturizer.


Vitamin C 

Vitamin C usually takes about 6-12 weeks of consistent use to notice results from the brightening effects of vitamin c.   

Vitamin C also needs to be used consistently each day too to see good results for hyperpigmentation. 


Exfoliators are the trickiest skincare product to pin down (in my opinion). If you’re using things like AHA’s and BHA’s and have acne prone skin, then they can cause a purging phase in the beginning, eventually evening themselves out after about 2 months.

You can also ease into chemical exfoliants with a once a week (or once every two weeks) treatment. If an exfoliant is right for you, you should start to see results with smoother skin and reduced hyperpigmentation after within 2 months or 8 weeks.

Continuous use is required to maintain results.  Tip: Make sure not to over exfoliate!  If skin feels sensitive, red, irritated – it’s a sign that you are over exfoliating so cut back! It’s important not to damage the skin barrier by over exfoliating.

Acne Targeted Products:

Acne targeted products usually take the longest to produce results. If you’re using benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid you may see immediate improvement but consistent results should be seen after 4 to 12 weeks.

If your skin hasn’t improved after 12 weeks of consistent use it may be time to seek out a different treatment.

A good rule of thumb is that surgical or cosmetic procedures such as laser treatment will work the most immediate, prescription creams like Retin A or Epiduo will be the next effective, and over the counter treatments will take the most amount of time

Microneedling at home:

If you are microneedling at home with the Banisher 2.0, results are typically seen within 3 months if being consistent.  Results will also depend on how old and stubborn your dark spots or acne scars are and your age.   

Newer scars tend to heal faster compared to older scars.  A scar may be considered old if it has been there for a year.   

Certain types of acne scars such as severe deep ice pick scars may not have as much of a result compared to milder shallow scars.  

Being Consistent With Your Skincare Routine Matters

I know the situation all too well. You’ve got a big presentation, date, or another important (yet stressful) event and a big cyst rears its ugly head.

You’ll do anything to get rid of it fast. However, if that spot treatment or anti-inflammatory serum isn’t working you probably ditch it after about a week or so.

I don’t blame you, it’s hard to have patience when basically everything gives us instant gratification these days.  So, waiting for your spots to disappear after using a product for a week feels like forever.

Don’t Switch Out Products Too Often

Unfortunately, when it comes to skincare, constantly switching it up can do way more harm than good. 

It can be hard to tell which products are working and which are making your acne worse. That’s why consistency is key and as we mentioned above, it can take at least 6 weeks of using a product consistently on average to know if a product works for you.

For skin concerns like acne, hyperpigmetnation, or acne scars, it takes around three months to notice a difference. It’s just how our skin biologically works, it’s a process that can’t be rushed.

Constantly switching between one product for another can create issues with your skin.   Because if you don’t know what kind of ingredients or product your skin is actually reacting to, you may be making the mistake of reintroducing a product that is causing your skin to react badly. 

When to stop a new skincare routine?

According to expert esthetician Renee Rouleau, you should stop a new skincare product or routine if you experience any of the following:

  • Excess redness and irritation
  • Excessive oiliness
  • Excessive dryness
  • Breakouts that last longer than 3-4 weeks
  • Stinging (when it shouldn’t be)

How Long It Personally Took Me To Notice Results

I can only speak based on my skin type (sensitive, acne prone) but to tell a difference in a new product, I typically have to wait anywhere from a month and a half to two months.

During the first week or two I experience a honeymoon period, I think “this is awesome, this is the best product I’ve ever used, I love it”. My breakouts typically improve or go away completely.

During the third and fourth week the honeymoon period starts to wear off, and I typically experience some purging or blemishes if I’m using a new product targeted towards acne or exfoliation.

Purging can also occur with AHA’S/BHA’S. The fifth and sixth week are where things start to level out, after this stage if my skin isn’t clear or at least normalized it’s probably not going to be.

If it’s been three months and I haven’t seen changes or my skin has gotten worse, it’s time to move on. Even with diet changes to see a difference in my skin I’ve noticed it takes at least two to three months.

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