how long does it take for new skincare products to work?

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When it comes to the human body, the state of our skincare...and’s true that they aren’t built in a day. But that doesn’t mean our bodies are not miraculously recycling and regenerating cells on the daily. It takes about a month for the cells in the skin to mature and move to the surface where they are then sloughed off. Great news, but how long until we know if we actually like a new skincare product?

Consistency is key when pairing skincare products with this natural cycle to achieve our skincare goals, which may include increased hydration, glow, reduced lines, puffiness, acne, and if you’re like me and at the beach regularly then reviving salt water battered skin back to shine. A routine nourishes skin cells consistently so as they rise to the surface (epidermis) they are that much more supple. 

Skin cell life cycle and turnover (cells rising from the dermis to the epidermis then being sloughed off) takes about a month (28 days...the same as a moon cycle. Pretty cool, right? Patterns in nature = patterns in our body. We = nature. Ok onward). However, when it comes to seeing results it’s a good rule of thumb to be consistent for about three months in order to gauge effectiveness. The repetition of routine and giving the skin multiple cycles of cell turnover allows the skin time to get used to the products. This is especially true with milder and natural products. Physical or chemical exfoliants can change the texture and nature of the pretty much immediately. And how about those pore strips that just stick to the filaments and pull them right out, that’s instant. However, the intensity at which some of these active ingredients work miss the subtlety that gives simple and potent skincare power to nourish as well as address deeper imbalances. 

All natural oil based products are working with the skin in two ways. Nourishing the epidermis with high quality emollients, fatty acids and vitamins. This helps to improve moisture content and softness while improving suppleness and glow. Organic oils also feed the natural microorganisms on the skin. Yes...we have microorganisms on our skin...all over our skin...inside and out. The microbiome goes beyond our gut y’all, and that’s a good thing. When we foster a healthy microbiome on our skin they work to control any microbes that want to invade our body as well as control the build-up of substances that can lead to clogged pores and dull skin. What’s interesting though is that these microbes that make up our microbiome need food, and good quality food, to thrive. They eat the oils our skin naturally emits (as byproducts of the fats we eat and create naturally), however, when our sebum production is out of balance or we use harsh chemicals and cleansers our microbiome can become disturbed or removed completely. When we have a balanced microbiome our skin is efficiently producing oils (that natural glow y’all!) and effectively processing it. The process is a well oiled machine. I think of it like a thriving forest. The trees are fed through groundwater, then when they get old and die or lose a limb. The tree that falls to the forest floor gets quickly broken down by billions of mycelium and insects. Eventually it becomes part of the soil and the nutrients that were broken down with it get affixed back into the soil. When we look at skin health, along with effectiveness of products, it becomes clear that gauging a routine over a few months gives the opportunity to explore the full range of effects.

There is a natural balance to our bodies that has been working itself out for thousands of years, and for some, the less we disturb that natural balance the better. In our current human reality we are bombarded with chemicals, irritants and substances that dysregulate our bodies on the daily. This is why it’s important to pay attention to the ingredients in the products we use on our skin (as well as what we put in our bodies). 

Choosing products with organic ingredients, high quality oils, hyaluronic acid and void of harsh chemicals, alcohols and poor quality ingredients are a great step to repairing your skin while cleaning up your skincare routine. 

So you may be wondering about how to tell if you’re having a definite bad reaction? Be watchful of redness, that is usually a sign that something is not working, whether it be the exact product or a combination of products. One rule of thumb is to start slow when incorporating new products. One at a time. It can take products some time to build up in the system so be watchful of adverse reactions presenting themselves after a couple weeks of use. 

In terms of oil based skincare products, it may take your skin a few weeks to get used to processing this new routine. It may be a careful move to incorporate facial oils and oil based cleansers and balms into your routine slowly, or even one at a time. Oil cleansers (especially ones that wash off clean with the application of water like our Dresden Body + Wellness Angelica Cleansing Oil here) are a little less of a shift because the excess oil is washed off either with water, or with a second cleanser. I transitioned to facial oils full-time during a time period I moved away from using foundation make-up. I did this in order to limit the amount of heavy products on my face and give my skin time to balance it’s natural oil production. What I found was that my skin was actually breaking-out more when my skin was dry. In order to remedy the dryness (from the environment as well as from an overuse of harsh acne cleansers) my skin would produce more and more oils leading to clogged pores.

The daily (post-shower) skincare routine I rested on was to start with a water based serum, like a hyaluronic acid serum, then apply a facial oil (what has become my staple Blue Tansy Facial Oil) as a moisturizer. I then follow this with a mineral sunscreen. If my skin feels dry throughout the day I spritze with a botanical hydrosol on my skin to hydrate without needing to apply heavier products. In time I found my skin felt soft and had a pretty good natural glow. I also got used to not wearing make-up and feel more and more comfortable walking through the world au naturel. It feels liberating in a sense. 

I would conclude this article with a take-away message that the state of our skin is a really great indicator of what is happening internally as well. When we address both internal health as well as external health then we can begin to uncover lasting balance and that is always the goal in traditional and holistic medicine and skincare. So while it may take a month for our skin to start a new cycle, and maybe a few months to notice an increase in moisture, glow and radiance, it could also be a doorway into understanding how to best balance our whole body. 

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