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This is how long it actually takes for your skin-care products to work


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Photo: Stocksy/Leandro Crespi
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In the midst of a throbbing hormonal breakout, chances are you’re keen on doing anything it takes to get rid of it fast. If that spot treatment or anti-inflammatory serum isn’t working after a week of diligent slathering, it’s banished from your top shelf. Guilty?

I don’t blame you. Instant gratification rules all these days, so it’s tough to have patience for most things, like nabbing that spot in SoulCycle or waiting for the next season of your fave show—let alone complexion woes. But when it comes to skin care, switching it up all the time could be doing much more harm than good.

“People think, ‘Oh, this isn’t working—I’ll try this instead,'” says Marie Veronique Nadeau, chemist and founder of her eponymous skin-care line. “Your skin is not happy with that. It’s not a good approach for a healthy glow.”

“It takes 28 days for your skin to do its natural process.”

That’s why the ol’ saying rings true when it comes to your beauty routine: Consistency is key. And, in this case, there’s science behind it—your skin takes a specific amount of time in order to do its thing. Just short of a month, to be exact.

“It takes 28 days for your skin to do its natural process,” says Debra Jaliman, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist. “That means the different layers are peeling off to exfoliate and then renew themselves over that time period.”

So it’s key to adjust your beauty routine to your skin’s biological clock rather than rush it. “[To rush it] is just not how nature works,” says Nadeau. Sigh.

Keep reading to learn how to work with your complexion, not against it—and get your best skin ever.

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how long for beauty products to work
Photo: Stocksy/Good Vibrations Images

The problem with switching it up too often

Continually tossing one seemingly ineffective product for another can create long-term issues. Think of it like working out—just exercising for one day isn’t going to get you into tip-top shape.

Nadeau notes that the constant switch up between serums and lotions can even potentially wreak havoc with your immune system response. Plus, Dr. Jaliman notes that stopping and starting different skin-care regimens doesn’t let you figure out if the products really work or not.

“People start to see problems like breakouts or redness and think a product’s not right for them,” says Nadeau. “What’s happening is you’re seeing abnormal cells being pushed out by healthier cells, which might not look like what you were hoping for. The skin can remedy a lot of things but you’ve got to give it a break.” Otherwise, it’ll get inflamed (which isn’t what anyone wants).

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beauty products
Photo: Stocksy/Trinette Reed

Why consistency is key

It may not be what you want to hear—stick with a product regimen and wait for it to work on its own time—but think about the positives. Namely, all of the time (and money!) you’ll save on shopping for an alternative that may or may not work faster. (Pro tip: It probably won’t.)

“Whatever you’re using, figure that your skin cells have started their progress on their way to the surface,” says Nadeau. “If you’ve used a product for a week, that means they’ve started to make that march—but they’ve got to get through that process of eliminating the not-so-healthy cells, and you don’t want to speed that up.”

Hey, maybe this means it’s time to start perfecting your meditation game—anything for the sake of patience and (beauty product) fortitude.

In terms of your beauty routine, here’s what every woman should know about her skin-care regimen. And these are 3 things in your makeup bag that you probably should throw out ASAP.