One of the most common scenarios I encountered went like this: I would spend almost an hour with a client trying to choose a skincare routine based on their needs, and a few days later, they would come back to the store to return everything they had picked out. The first question I would ask? “How often have you been using this product and for how long?” Sometimes the answer was, “I used it every other day for a few days and nothing happened,” or “I tried it out one night and the next day I had pimples!”.
While I wish MORE THAN ANYTHING that skincare products were magical one-time fixes, they typically aren’t. If we think of skincare like a DIY project, it’s more of a trial and error to figure out the best way to actually do the project than following a DIY blog post where you follow the steps one time and know the result you’re going to get. Very seldom will you enjoy a “finished product,” or in this case, happy skin, after one try of a product.
Going back to those Sephora returns, we usually recommended that clients take the products back home and use them for two weeks before throwing in the towel and returning them. It was staggering to see how many of those same people we would see a month or two later, back to buy the products they almost returned. What changed? Fair trial/consistency. If your skincare products aren’t performing the way you thought they would or you’re breaking out on the first few uses (breakouts/pimples are completely different from a rash—if you are experiencing a rash, discontinue use of the product immediately), commit to giving the product two to three weeks to give you results.
By giving your products a fair trial of two to three weeks, you’re allowing them to have the time they need to see you through changes like hormones and weather, and you’re giving your skin a chance to adjust to ingredients it may need time to familiarize itself with. I liken this to drinking celery juice: When I first started drinking it, I was honestly almost sick over how gross it tasted. After a week, I could tolerate the taste, and after two weeks I started to enjoy the flavor and could really see and feel its benefits. Your body just needs time to adjust to things sometimes.
Now, let’s talk consistency. If you have a cleanser that says “use twice a day,” you know what to do! I would say in any case of a cleanser, using it twice a day is a good way to go. Your skin needs to be cleansed of dead skin cells that it’s shed off at night each morning (and any other dirt/dust that might be on your skin while you sleep), and of course every night it’s key to cleanse your skin of any makeup or undesirable material that it’s accumulated throughout the day. In the case of a mask or exfoliating treatment, those only need to be used twice a week. Which brings me to my next point: overuse!
One of my favorite points to illustrate overuse is the Clarisonic cleansing brush, which is ultimately an exfoliating tool. A common complaint is that people were constantly broken out over their Clarisonic with no end in sight, and that’s usually because they were overdoing it and overstimulating oil production. Using something like that 2-3 times a week is more than plenty, even with the sensitive skin brush. You’re basically cleaning your face with a giant sonic toothbrush, which is pretty intense!
To sum it all up, use your products long enough (at least 2-3 weeks) and consistently enough (if you’re unsure after looking at the directions on the packaging, ask the store you purchased from or email the company) before determining whether they don’t work for you, and also beware of overuse! These few adjustments can be total game changers for your skincare routine.