How Long It Takes for Skincare Products to Actually Work

Pinpoint exactly when you'll achieve that wedding-worthy skin you've been after.


Unsplash | Design by Michela Buttignol 

If there is one thing a bride-to-be doesn't have, it's more time. With wedding planning, time is of the essence and that checklist needs to be completed before the big day arrives. The same can be said when it comes to the beauty department. Whether you've got a year to prep for your walk down the aisle or only a few weeks, it's important to know how long it takes your skincare products to work in order to pinpoint exactly when you'll achieve that wedding-worthy skin you've been after.

From daily cleansers to the almighty retinoid, we spoke to a couple of dermatologists to get the lowdown on when brides-to-be can expect their skincare products to deliver that gorgeous glow of their dreams.


We see a cleanser's immediate results when we wash away dirt, oil, and makeup, but according to Michele J. Farber, MD of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City, picking the right one is the foundation of a good skincare routine so the long-term benefits depend on your goals. "If you’re a little more dry and sensitive, stick to a gentle cleanser chock-full of ceramides like CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser to replenish your skin barrier and tolerate other leave-on products." If you’re acne-prone or want to even out your skin tone, Farber suggests a glycolic acid or salicylic acid wash instead. Either way, the long-term benefits of face wash are crucial to the skin's overall health.

Retinoids and Retinols

"Retinoids are perhaps the best-studied ingredients we have to fight fine lines," says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. "The benefits, however, take several weeks or even months to start seeing." He notes that during the first few weeks as skin adjusts to the product, irritation and peeling are common side effects. "Use it intermittently as tolerated and stick with it," says Zeichner.

If you're not quite ready to commit to a retinoid product and want to try a less aggressive, over-the-counter option, Zeichner suggests opting for one with a stabilized formula. "It is important to choose a stabilized product, like one from RoC. When you feel your skin has reached a plateau, your dermatologist can then give you a prescription version."


Removing dead cells that interfere with light reflection can be done by exfoliating. While a physical product, like a gritty scrub, manually separates the dead skin from the surface, a chemical exfoliant uses a hydroxy acid to dissolve the bond between skin cells so that they can shed. Either way, Farber explains that it's a great way to even out skin tone and results, while seemingly instant, can take up to a few months to really see. "The effects of exfoliation are synergistic with other products, as exfoliation allows other creams to penetrate better. So, depending on your skin type and the type of exfoliation your skin can tolerate, you’ll likely see results over one month and three or more for optimal results."

Dark Spot Treatments

"The only way to immediately lighten a dark spot is by using a laser or a peel in the dermatologist’s office," says Zeichner. "Otherwise topical brighteners take several weeks to start to exert their benefits." He notes that botanical ingredients, such as the soy complex in some Aveeno products, can help fade dark spots.

Alternatively, Farber says that other active ingredients like glycolic acid, kojic acid, vitamin C, ferulic acid, and azelaic acid can also get the job done. "These can take one to three months to see results and any dark spot treatment should be used with SPF 30 or higher, with UVA and UVB protection," she adds.


"Moisturizers contain ingredients that form a protective seal over the skin to prevent loss of hydration, pull in water, and soften rough skin cells on the surface of the skin," says Zeichner. Skin feels soft and supple immediately and hydration is improved in a matter of minutes. Look for ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin to reap immediate and long-term benefits, and if you're looking for a daytime moisturizer we suggest reaching for the one with SPF protection.

Eye Cream

"A good eye cream should help stimulate collagen and elastin production and have ingredients to help reduce dark circles and puffiness," says Farber. She says to look for ingredients like peptides, hyaluronic acid, and caffeine to help plump skin, and vitamin C to even out dark circles. "NeoCutis Micro Eyes Rejuvenating Cream combines many of these power-packed ingredients and is very gentle to the sensitive skin around the eyes. You’ll often see results around three to four weeks."

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