Wondering how long it takes for active ingredients to start showing results on your skin? We've created a brief infograph on this here (save it!):
While most skin treatments have almost immediate effects, it can take a few weeks to months for treatments to show long-term sustained results.
Remember: It takes an average of about 30 days for typical adult skin cells to turnover (ie renew and regenerate). Active ingredients like retinoids help to speed up this process up to 14 days. In fact, some products can make your skin "get worse" before it gets better -- a common symptom of this is purging. Purging can look like acne lesions or peeling. So, just because a product isn't showing results or causing your skin to purge within a week or so, doesn't mean it's not working!
Function: Barrier Support
Ceramides are naturally occurring in our skin. They function like a brick wall to prevent water from escaping (dehydration) and pollution from entering (acne and infection).
Ceramides can start showing effects immediately although for sustained results these usually work from 1 - 4 weeks.
Function: Cell renewal
Retinol (or Vitamin A derivatives) are commonly recommended for anti-ageing treatments to acne treatments. This is because it actively speeds up the cell renewal process and shortens it from the average 30 days to about 14 days. It does this by triggering your stratum corneum (outermost skin layer) to turnover and slough off faster which means new cells underneath can regenerate faster resulting in smoother skin. This can sometimes result in purging because you're basically waking up dormant cells and kicking them into action.
Retinol can start showing results from 4 weeks to 3 months.
Function: Brightening, Minimise Pigmentation
Vitamin C is an antioxidant and a key factor in promoting collagen production in skin. Remember: collagen is a structural protein that helps to maintain skin tonicity. Our bodies don't naturally produce Vitamin C so we usually take it from external sources like topical creams or Vitamin C tablets.
Vitamin C helps to decrease skin discolouration by blocking the pathway to pigment synthesis. As an antioxidant, it also serves to protect the skin from free radical damage caused by environmental factors like UV radiation. It can take from 2 weeks to 2 months to see noticeable improvement in skin tone and fading pigmentation.
AHA and BHA
Hydroxy Acids function as exfoliators. AHAs are water soluble and work on the upper surface of the skin. BHA (or Salicylic Acid) is oil-soluble and penetrates deeper into the skin to dry out excess oils and clear out pores. AHAs are a common ingredient in skin resurfacing and refining products. BHAs are a popular treatment for acne.
As exfoliators, they function to slough off the top-most layer of skin to accelerate cell turnover. Like retinol, this can also result in purging.
AHAs and BHAs can start showing noticeable effects from 2 - 4 weeks.
Niacinamide is also known as Vitamin B3 or Nicotinamide. It's a water-soluble molecule that helps to calm inflammation and redness that is associated with acne and sensitivity. It also helps to regulate sebum production in skin. It's best used for leave-on treatments like serums and creams.
You can start seeing results from 2 - 4 weeks.
Peptides are amino acids that make up proteins like collagen and elastin in the skin. Your body naturally produces proteins like collagen but this decreases with age which results in signs of ageing. Introducing peptides into topical skincare helps to provide the building blocks for maintaining structural proteins like collagen in skin.
Consistent use of peptides can start showing noticeable results from 2 - 3 weeks.
Hyaluronic Acid is a humectant. Humectants draw and retain water in the skin. Its effects are almost immediate as using Hyaluronic Acid results in instantly hydrated and plump feeling skin. Consistent use shows improvement in skin elasticity.
Results can be immediate to 8 weeks.