The waiting game: How long it takes for skincare products to work

The best things in life are worth the wait–and that includes your skincare. So, if it has just been a few days and your skin still isn’t as clear or glowing as you want it to be, don’t give up yet; even the best products take time before you can see the difference. 

How much time? Well, the minimum is 4 weeks but dermatologists recommend at least 6 weeks to account for your skin cycle, or the amount of time it takes for new cells to work up to the surface of your epidermis (the outer layer of your skin). This process can last from 5 to 6 weeks depending on each individual. On top of your skin cycle, the time it takes for your skincare to work will also depend on skin type, skin problems, and the specific products you use. 

If you want an idea on how long it takes before deciding if it’s a yes or no on a new skincare product, take a look at our quick guide.

woman waiting by the road

Based on the type of skincare products


Unlike most skincare products, you should almost immediately feel a difference after using your cleanser. However, it takes up to 30 days to both feel and see significant improvement in your skin. A good cleanser should also be able to remove makeup, dirt, and gunk from WITHOUT leaving it dry, tight, or stripped.


Exfoliants work best with other skincare products since it allows them to reach deeper into your skin. If you are using chemical exfoliants, you should see results after 1 to 3 months. Physical exfoliants, on the other hand, will give you results almost immediately–but the difference won’t be that noticeable at first so don’t take this as a sign to scrub harder! Keep things gentle as always.

If you want a more detailed guide on Chemical vs. Physical exfoliants, click here.


Serums are the holy grail of any skincare routine as they are concentrated and formulated to sink deep within your skin. Despite this, serums can actually take 6 to 8 weeks before you can see any changes. this duration will also depend on what ingredients you choose and your skin problem. The more you need to heal, the longer you need to wait.


Moisturising is the fastest way to improve your skin–or at least how it looks–after 1 to 2 days. However, to see if your moisturiser is a good fit for you in the long run, you should wait at least 3 weeks or at least a full skin cycle.


Based on the types of skin concerns


We already discussed what acne is and how to prevent them. If you’re in the middle of a breakout, it may take you 6 to 12 weeks with a consistent skincare routine to get clearer skin, depending on the severity of your acne. You should also prepare yourself for a purge after a few days to a week. This means your acne may get worse at the start of your treatment–but don’t worry! This is natural and caused by the pore-clogging impurities of your skin moving to the surface and getting ready to be removed.

Want to be sure it’s actually a purge and not a bad reaction to the product? We got you! Read our guide here.

Dark spots

Depending on what products you’re using, hyperpigmentation or dark spots can take 2 to 3 months before you see improvement. You should also be consistent with your UV or sun protection on top of your daily skincare routine to get the best and quickest results. Always remember that sunscreen is your best friend.

Dry skin

Anyone can experience dry skin at any time of the year but it is especially problematic during the cold season when the humidity drops. If you suffer from dry skin, it may take 2 weeks or more to relieve this problem with the help of skincare and drinking lots of water. Hydration is key.

woman holding mirror applying skin care products

Our personal recommendations

While the waiting game for skincare may vary from person to person, you can still up the ante of your routine to get better results and healthier skin. Here are a few helpful tips that we have for you:

  • Take a photo before starting your new skincare routine or trying a new product. Do weekly check-ins after to see how your skin is changing.
  • Use the right skincare product or ingredient depending on your skin type or problem. This saves time and guarantees that you can address the very root of your skin's problems. You can peep our guide to choosing your skincare to get started.
  • Research your skincare products before using them. Most products will have ingredients listed, instructions on usage, how much to apply, and the potency of their formula to help you out.

Your skincare routine may seem like magic but it actually takes time and consistency to achieve that healthy, glowing skin we all want. By finding out how long it takes for skincare products to work, we can set expectations, choose the right product, and build the best routine for you and your skin.

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