What To Do if Your Skincare Products are Not Working
We’ve all been through it: the excitement of buying into the latest skincare craze only to find that it doesn’t work for your skin, at all. The disappointment is palpable and makes you want to swear off purchasing whatever new products the internet swears are the holy grail of skincare.
But don’t get so cynical just yet. Sometimes products don’t work, and it’s not always their fault. You might be using them wrong, or maybe they’re just not compatible with your skin, and that’s completely fine.
If you’ve been worried that you’re using all the wrong stuff on your face, then you’ve come to the right place. Let’s talk about the reasons why your skincare isn’t working for you.
Here’s Why Your Products Aren’t Working
1. They Might Be Expired
Let’s start with the obvious: maybe the products are simply past their expiration date. Double-check your bottle or tub to make sure you haven’t been slathering an expired product all over your face.
The Solution: Throw them away.
2. You’re Storing Them Wrong
Some skincare faves are more sensitive than others. Vitamin C, for example, is sensitive to sunlight and could oxidize if left exposed to direct light. This is where thorough research comes in: make sure you know exactly where and how to store your products.
Generally, high temperatures can affect product stability and potency. That’s why you shouldn’t leave products, like sunblock, in your car or in humid areas. On the other hand, some products fare better when stored in cool containers such as a mini-fridge.
The Solution: Always check the recommended storage for each of your products. This can save a ton of product and money!
3. Your Skin Isn’t Absorbing Them Properly
Ever heard of pilling? That’s when your skincare products, ie. a moisturizer or serum, don’t gel together well and start forming those tiny white flecks on top of your face.
If your products start to pill, it’s not a good sign. It means something in the formula or the combination of products is preventing your skin from fully absorbing them. Instead, most of the product sits on top of your face, and you’ll have to wash them off.
The Solution: Sometimes, all you have to do is wait a few minutes in between each product before applying them. This allows your skin to fully absorb whatever serum, moisturizer, or essence is on your face before proceeding to the next step of your routine.
Other times, what your skin truly needs is exfoliation. Lack of it results in a layer of dead skin sitting on top of your face, preventing all those nutrients from getting absorbed.
4. The Products are Just Incompatible With Your Skin
We know how disappointing it is when an ingredient that is marketed as well-tolerated and “ideal for all skin types” breaks you out or just doesn’t work the way it does on everybody else. Not to worry, because that really does happen. Skincare is never a one-size-fits-all deal because our genetic makeup is too diverse.
The Solution: Don’t give up on trying to find your holy grail ingredient! Remember that it’s normal to go through a trial-and-error phase when it comes to skincare. Just make sure you’re looking at skincare that is specific to your skin type and avoid buying into the latest trends for the sake of it.
5. You’re Using Low Quality Products
Not all skincare is created equal! Often, low-cost products also use low-cost ingredients, but it’s not necessarily an indicator of low quality. There are overpriced products that charge you way too much and cut costs with cheap ingredients that are ineffective.
The Solution: Read product reviews. Check ingredients lists. Stick with products you’ve already tried and have had positive experiences with. Remember what we said about skincare not being a one-size-fits-all deal? It’s true here, too.
6. They’re Not Strong Enough
Your products might have the right ingredients, but they may not have a strong enough concentration of it to penetrate deeply into the skin. That’s why the whitening lotion you purchased didn’t actually do anything to your skin tone, and why moisturizers with SPF aren’t recommended as replacements for actual sunblock. It may also be why your salicylic acid wash isn’t working for your pimples.
The Solution: Per the advice of board-certified dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse, check the ingredients list. Ingredients are usually listed in order of amount, so if it’s not in the top five, the ingredient might not be as effective as marketed.
7. Or They’re Too Strong
The opposite could also be true. However, too-harsh products are often easier to identify because your skin is going to react, whether it’s redness, stinging, itchiness, or flat-out breakouts.
The Solution: Look for products with smaller concentrations of an ingredient to see if it works in smaller doses. But by all means, if your skin reacts negatively to a product, it’s best to stop using it.
8. Your Skin Changed
Sometimes the problem might not be your products at all, but how your skin reacts to them. Hormones, diet, and other natural bodily changes can affect your skin, and those changes may not gel with your existing routine that used to work perfectly. This is completely normal, and it’s a myth that you have to stick with a skincare routine forever.
The Solution: Listen to your skin’s needs over time and tailor your routine accordingly.
9. Or the Weather Did
Another factor one might forget to account for is changes in the weather. There aren’t many seasonal changes living in the Philippines, but the weather can vary from day to day. The reason your trusty moisturizer isn’t working might be because of the extra-cold environment.
The Solution: Learn to adapt to external elements. When you’re prepping for a beach trip, bring extra strong sunscreen. If you know you’ll be staying in an air-conditioned office for the next few weeks, bring extra moisturizing products or a handy lip balm.
10. You’re Not Giving It Enough Time
Our skin cells take 30 days to turn over, so generally speaking, you’ll need to wait at least that long to see visible results. But each product is different and waiting times vary. Plenty of factors could also be at play, such as the strength of the active ingredient. Some products also have instant results, like moisturizers.
The Solution: In any case, we recommend sticking with a new product for 6 to 8 weeks before putting it in the metaphorical trash pile. Another good practice is to introduce new products into your routine at two-week intervals so you’ll know which products are causing which reactions.
Should I Stick With a Product or Ditch It?
This might be the question you’re asking yourself. When should you say goodbye to a product and when should you bless it with your patience? There’s no hard and fast rule here, but each product has a general “waiting period” that you should take note of.
Cleansers: 1 month/30 days. Cleansers can clean your face immediately, but they don’t have lasting effects after just a few washes because all the nutrients and goodie ingredients don’t stay on your face. That’s why it takes at least a month for the brightening/moisturizing/whitening effects that come with the cleanser.
Serums: 6 to 8 weeks. Some serums and essences have visible effects even after one night, but those are usually short-term effects. In other words, you’ll have to wait at least a month and a half for your skin to truly shine. However, if you’ve been using them for more than three months to no effects, then they might not be for you.
Over-the-Counter Retinols and Retinoids: 8 to 10 Weeks. These skincare faves don’t take long to see effects, and it’s very rare that they won’t work in some way.
Prescription Retinols and Retinoids: 2 to 6 weeks. Depending on the strength of your prescription, retinol usually takes pretty quick to show full effects.
Acne Treatments: 24 hours to 12 days. Cortisone shots typically act within a day, but others will need your patience. That’s why acne treatments often require the guidance of your doctor.
The journey to clear skin isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon! Don’t worry if your once-trusty products no longer work the way they did. Sometimes our body outgrows them, and that’s completely fine. Just make sure to listen to what your skin needs, do the research, and be patient.
What are your skincare experiences? Did you have a favorite product that you outgrew? Share your stories with us below!
Joey is an AB Psychology graduate of the University of St. La Salle – Bacolod. Her life’s passions include writing, film, and spending hours on end binge-watching fashion vloggers on Youtube.