How Long Does It Take for Skin Care Products to Actually Work Ahead of Your Wedding?

Understanding the answer to this question will help you pinpoint exactly how to achieve the wedding-worthy glow you're after.

bridal portrait

Photo by Annaleisa Friednash of Meraki Wedding Photo & Film

If there is one thing anyone getting married never seems to have enough of, it's time. When planning planning a wedding, 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 your pre-nuptial beauty prep. Whether you've got a year before you walk down the aisle or only a few weeks, you want to understand how long it takes for skin care products to actually do their job, ensuring you achieve that bright, glowy complexion you've been after.

So, how long does it take for skin care products—like cleansers, retinols, dark spot treatments, and more—to actually work ahead of your wedding? Simply put: It varies from product to product and what you're trying to achieve, but a good rule of thumb is that most products require at least a month of consistent use in order to see noticeable results, as it takes about 30 days for our skin cells to turn over. Ahead, we spoke to a couple of dermatologists to better understand exactly how long it takes for a variety of different products that are likely in your pre-wedding skin care routine to work, plus tips you need to know about each.


When it comes to a basic face wash, you can expect it to start working instantaneously; every wash will begin to yield cleaner skin. Even though there's no "wait time" when it comes to using a cleanser, according to Dr. Michele J. Farber of Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City, picking the right one is the foundation of a good skin care routine. "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, so be sure to find one that works best for you as soon as possible and use it regularly.

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 also notes that during the first few weeks, irritation and peeling are common side effects, so it's best not to introduce these products into your routine around big wedding events, like bridal showers, bachelorette parties, or the ceremony itself. "Use it intermittently as tolerated and stick with it," he adds.

If you're not quite ready to commit to a retinoid and want to try a less aggressive, over-the-counter option, Dr, Zeichner suggests testing a few products 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 skin 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, Dr, Farber explains that it's a great way to even out your skin tone, but it can take up to a few months to really see results. "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 Dr, Zeichner. "Otherwise, topical brighteners take several weeks to start to exert their benefits." He does notes, however, that botanical ingredients, such as the soy complex in some Aveeno products, can help fade dark spots.

Alternatively, Dr. 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 Dr. Zeichner. Skin can feel soft and supple immediately, and overall hydration is improved in a matter of minutes if using a product that works for your skin type. Look for ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and glycerin to reap immediate and long-term benefits, especially products with SPF. Like cleaners, a great moisturizer is a cornerstone to your routine, so find one that works for you and stick with it—with regular use, you should notice more supple, hydrated skin in a month.

Eye Cream

"A good eye cream should help stimulate collagen and elastin production, and have ingredients to help reduce dark circles and puffiness," says Dr. 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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