How Long It Takes For Your Products To Actually Work

How Long It Takes For Your Products To Actually Work


4 minute read

When you try a new skincare product, there’s always the tiny glimmer of hope that all of your skin troubles will be solved when the sun comes up. Unfortunately, topical products don’t usually work that way. The average wait time for results is 28 days. It might seem oddly specific, but 28 days is the length of the typical skin cycle  —  meaning after this period, every skin cell will have been exposed to the product you’re trying. While 28 days is the rule of thumb, some products could be quicker! We’ve broken down the expected timeline according to our very own founder and board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Sandra Lee.

An Overnight Fix 

Spot treatments offer the quickest turnaround because they pack a concentrated dose of acne-fighting ingredients. Whether or not your pimple has come to a head, applying a spot treatment will clean pores, treat existing breakouts and prevent new ones from forming. Best of all, it will remind you not to try to squeeze the pimple! If you couldn’t resist popping, a spot treatment can also help the healing process and protect against infection. “Spot treatments are very potent and can target skin problems right away. That’s why a lot of people, including myself, apply them overnight - and wake up with visible progress!” says Dr. Lee. For non-inflammatory acne (like whiteheads and blackheads) use a spot treatment with Salicylic Acid, like SLMD’s Salicylic Acid Spot Treatment. Benzoyl Peroxide, the active ingredient in SLMD’s BP Acne Spot Treatment, is more effective for inflammatory acne (like papules and pustules).

Thorough Acne Treatments

If you’re dealing with persistent acne, your best plan of attack is an acne system, especially one that treats and prevents every stage of acne formation. SLMD’s Acne System provides a three-step plan for morning and night to tackle breakouts. The system includes our Salicylic Acid Cleanser, Facial Moisturizer, BP Lotion, and Retinol Serum.

While cleansers will effectively clear dirt, debris and impurities from pores right away, it may take longer to clear up acne. Healing acne is similar to healing a wound or scrapethe deeper the wound, the longer it will take. The active ingredients in cleansers have to penetrate the surface of the skin to treat the source of inflammation. Although you won’t wake up with clear skin, consistently clean skin will prevent dirt from mixing with your skin’s natural sebum inside pores, which will reduce breakouts. Dr. Lee recommends using a gentle exfoliating cleanser, like SLMD’s Salicylic Acid Cleanser, which dives deep into pores without leaving your skin dry or stripped. 

Treatment lotions for acne can also take time to produce significant changes. Benzoyl Peroxide, a popular ingredient in acne treatments, is an anti-inflammatory and antibacterial that kills acne-causing bacteria. It can be found in SLMD’s BP Lotion, which can be used day or night to treat and prevent acne breakouts. If you’re experiencing sensitivity to Benzoyl Peroxide, Dr. Lee recommends replacing it with SLMD’s Sulfur Lotion, a gentler option to stop the growth of acne-causing bacteria and help control oil production. If you’re experiencing dry or tight skin due to treatment lotions, be sure to use a moisturizer consistently. SLMD’s Facial Moisturizer is formulated with acne-prone skin in mind, using ingredients like Vitamin C and Amino Acids for an even complexion. SLMD Dual Defender SPF 30 is a great way to incorporate hydration and SPF into your regimen. 

Retinol, an all-star anti-aging ingredient, prevents the breakdown of collagen and encourages cell turnover. As you age, the collagen in your skin decreases, allowing wrinkles to form in the subcutaneous layer of the skin. Retinol thickens this layer to prevent and smooth fine lines and wrinkles. It has also proven to reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation by curbing the production of melanin. Because it increases cell turnover rates, Retinol’s anti-aging effects won’t be noticeable until the skin has fully renewed itself. Applying SLMD’s Retinol Serum every night will allow it to activate while you sleep, minimizing irritation. It also contains Hyaluronic Acid to hydrate the skin, Vitamin C to protect from environmental stressors, and Allantoin to combat irritation. When incorporating Retinol into your skincare routine, your skin may get worse before it gets better. 

For treatment plans like SLMD’s Acne System, 28 days is average time for a full facial overhaul. In theory, the active ingredients in these products will have hit every skin cell on your skin after this period of time.

More Targeted Skin Concerns

28 days also applies to skin concerns like acne scars, age spots and hyperpigmentation. Consistent use of retinoids, antioxidants and sunscreen can help reduce the appearance of hyperpigmentation. Try SLMD Dark Spot Fix, which contains kojic Acid, a powerful antioxidant to reveal an even-looking complexion, and salicylic acid, an exfoliator to improve texture. 

Patience is a virtue  — especially when it comes to skincare! Maintaining a consistent regimen is your best shot at seeing significant results. Although it may take more time than you’d like to get clear, glowing skin, you should see gradual improvements along the way!

Shop the Article