How you determine whether a skincare product is working for you?

If my prior skincare routine was already hitting the right notes for me, then I look for that to keep going with the new product (e.g. if my skin was hydrated, then if it started to feel less hydrated, that’d be an issue) or is improving my skin overall by whatever it’s supposed to. I typically test products until I finish them unless a product that doesn’t stay on the skin long (like cleansers, scrubs, etc.). If I feel an extremely strong reaction within a week that’s negative, I might discontinue use (an example would be a moisturizer and my skin tightening and drying noticeably) unless that’s a potential short-term,
side effect.

— Christine
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Seriously an annoying topic for me as I sold skincare for many years, too many people come in and say
This products not working. How isn’t it working and how long have you used it? You would be amazed at how many return in one week. Your skin renews when we are young and healthy on a 28 day cycle, older skin unhealthy persons can even fluctuate not as effective,
You can’t expect to see results prior to a cycle,
Stay with it,
Then if you pass a month and don’t see added hydration or smoother refind skin then yes maybe it’s not your skins needs.
Unless you see a oil slick or something immediate like new constant breakouts or allergic reaction then all means switch products earlier.
Currrently what’s your favorite skin product and for what reason? Have a beautiful day!!

I appreciate this advice. I always do really long trial periods for new skincare, which is really tedious and unexciting, but I think is necessary to do. A lot of stuff doesn’t make it past the first two weeks because I do get breakouts or irritation form a lot of stuff, and by the time I’m a month deep looking for results, few products actually make the cut. I also do my best to only test one thing at a time–it’s already enough of a drag having hormonal fluctuations and weather changes affecting my skin.

Best new find has been The Ordinary Retinoid 2% in Squalane. My skin is extremely sensitive to classic retinol–even after A WHOLE YEAR of using Paula’s Choice RESIST Barrier Repair Moisturizer, which only has 0.01%, I would still get irritation and weird pain in my skin if I used it every night for a week. I really loved the PC moisturizer because it was the first product gentle enough for me to use enough to enjoy the anti-acne benefit of retinol, and it also had a nice, plumping hydrating effect. But The Ordinary stuff doesn’t make my face hurt even at the higher concentration, and the Squalane is really hydrating. And that’s not even considering the price.

Maybe too simplistic, but just if it improves things for me — skin texture or tone, and the effect intended is happening. I test for 1-2 weeks because my skin tends to react quickly. If I get a negative reaction or it’s very unpleasant eg too fragranced, I toss it; neutral or positive I keep using. I test one product at a time.

I am still trying to work this out. I am 40, and have only become concerned about skin care in the past 3-4 years. Before that, my skin was fine; occasional pimples, some texture on my forehead, but nothing I really thought about much. Then when I started seeing signs of aging, I panicked, and sort of went all in. I wish I had been more systematic from the get-go. Recently I decided to do an experiment with the Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Pore-Reducing Toner. I use it on the left side of my face only. If the toner did what the label claims, one side of my face would have visibly reduced pores, and a brighter look overall. So, immediately after I use it, I may see that if my skin is dry (as it has been lately, winter), the side with the toner may look and feel a bit more hydrated/less flaky. But over the course of the day, no difference. I’m going to use the rest of the bottle in this manner, but if it continues on in this way, I will feel comfortable in never purchasing this toner again. I spend way more money and time on my skincare, and I feel like I should have better skin (i.e., fewer breakouts, fewer fine lines, less hyperpigmentation) than I do. I’m thinking about doing a skincare reset, drop all products except for cleanser, basic moisturizer, sunscreen, for maybe a month. Then add in actives one at a time (retinoids, acids, Vitamin C) and really, really pay attention to what effects I have from each.

With some products I notice a difference immediately, usually with moisturizing products. If I try something new at bed time and wake up still feeling like my skin feels hydrated and soft, that’s easy. With products that work over time, like BHA/AHAs, sometimes I don’t realized how effective a product is until I stop using it. After weeks of using Paula’s Choice 2% BHA, my skin looks and feels great and I take it for granted. If I stop using it for a few days, I can feel my skin get rough again and it really drives home how well the product works.

I actually just determined 2 different products were working well for me.The first one is the Dr.Brandt Do Not Age Pearl Transforming Serum.Im on my second bottle. I got both on sale for 45% off.The sale ends today if anyone is interested it’s a great deal.I can tell my skin texture and tone have improved and my skin looks firmer with less imperfections.I just turned 36.I have been diligent with my anti-aging skin care since my late 20’s.In my teens I had cystic acne so early on I focused on that.The second product is the Sukari Babyfacial from Drunk Elephant which I purchased during the Rouge sale at Sephora and just started using in December once I ran out of the Peter Thomas Roth individual Glycolic peels.This product is as good as all the hype says it is surprisingly.It leaves my skin softer and smoother than it’s ever been.Perferctly prepped for makeup application.I have another product that I’m enjoying and I’m on my second one also.It is the Tatcha Plumping Essence.It is slightly difficult to tell if it is making a drastic difference but I do think it is plumping my skin and helping the other skin care products I used penetrate the skin barrier more and work better.

So much has to do with researching the product *before* I purchase it! Its chemical composition, potential unpleasant side effects, what others who’ve used the product have experienced, all come into my decision as to whether or not to even try a product. This is due to my having somewhat finicky skin. It’s somewhat sensitive, but not severely, combination oily/ with some dryer regions. And it’s 58 years young, and looks 40-45. Not a brag, just a fact. Therefore, breakout prone and can look like an oily mess on a hot, humid day. Taking all these factors into consideration before purchasing has definitely spared me from buying many a *meh* product.
Being patient is key when it comes to certain products, I believe. Especially so anything claiming to stave off aging, or reducing breakouts over time. Some products, I know right off the bat that it’s a winner, though. Ie; Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream. It depuffed my eye area ASAP! Because CAFFEINE. Or, Glamglow Supermud Clearing Treatment Mask, which is so effective that you can literally see the oil and sebum being drawn up into the mask while it’s on, and afterwards, much smaller, CLEARER pores than before!

It’s kind of in two stages for me. Short term, does it make my skin freak out in the first week or two? If it’ll break me out or give me a rash, I’ll know pretty quickly. If that doesn’t happen, I’ll continue using it until the package/bottle/etc. is done. I feel like for skincare, the time it’ll take to see results is similar to the time it’ll take to use up the bottle. At least, it’s a rule of thumb I use. Then, I decide if it did anything and if it did, if it did enough to justify the cost, which is super subjective. I also make sure not to start more than one or two new skincare products at the same time, especially if they’re meant to do the same thing. Like I wouldn’t start an anti-redness toner and anti-redness serum at the same time, but I might start a toner and an eye cream at the same time since they don’t really influence each other. That way, I know exactly what product is producing results.

It’s trial and error. What are the ingredients I’m looking to add, how can I add them in an effective manner that isn’t irritating, too rich for my skin, and do they do what they say they do? Overnight masks are invariably too rich for my face and cause under skin bumps, so the ones I have can only be used on my neck and chest. When they’re empty, that’s it. Neck/chest treatments, OTOH, always irritate one side of my collar bone, and so I can’t use them. I’ve tried five different ones, no go. If I think something is doing something great, I’ll stop using it. If the benefit disappears, then reappears when I add it back in … which has happened with several eye products … I know it’s a keeper. The result is rather a hodge-podge and likely is les effective than doing one brand for everything, but I’ve never found one brand that I can use across the board. The older I get, the longer my routine, but I actually enjoy the time.

Given how sensitive my skin is these days it’s pretty easy- if it burns it’s a no-go. I try to keep the same stuff in my routine as my skin likes that, but I’m slowly trying to switch out items for cheaper dupes one by one if that is something that’s available.

Before you choose a product to try I think it’s important to know your skin type, the results you want, do research on what ingredients will give you those results, and find out how to incorporate the product into your routine in a manner that won’t overly distress your skin. Many skincare products contain unproven ingredients and they charge you top dollar for the privilege of using something of no benefit. There are high dollar skincare products that due contain beneficial ingredients but in quantities that are too small to be effective, in a formula with a pH that prevents your skin from absorbing the ingredients, or packaged in a way that exposes sensitive ingredients to air and light, thereby rendering them ineffective. There are formulations that make your skin look or feel or smell amazing but contain ingredients that will harm your skin in the long run. There are skincare ingredients that are highly effective but when used inappropriately or not given enough time will cause you to think you are having a bad reaction.

In addition to knowing what you want in your skincare, it’s important to know what you don’t want in your skincare. There are many ingredients, such as alcohol and fragrance, that are not recommended and in some cases exacerbate aging.

Once you know what you want and have found a product that you would like to try, it’s important to use that product for an appropriate time trial. I have two jobs, one of which involves selling skincare, and I always tell women it takes at least six months before they will know if a product is really working well for them, and a year before they will really see the best results.

I look for skincare with ingredients most important to my goals: Retin A or retinoids, vitamin C, glycolic acid, peptides, growth factors, and hyaluronic acid. I look for products without fragrance, alcohol, silicone, and other ingredients I don’t have listed right in front of me. I look at packaging and pH. Once I find something that meets my requirements, I settle in for the trial, which may include some discomfort but I already know it’s expected and with proper use will give me
the results I am looking for.

Right now I am doing a skincare trial with several products from Drunk Elephant: Hydra B, C-Firma, and Lala Whipped Cream. I will be adding their Protini in February or March. I don’t expect any reactions, as the ingredients are easy on the skin and they avoid adding ingredients that cause irritation. Probably the most difficult products in my arsenal are Retin A and glycolic acid. These products do cause reaction and the reaction has to be managed. But I’ve had great results over time with my skincare regimen and I feel like at this point, I know what I’m looking for.

I’ve never used (except when I was getting discounts or SWAG products) expensive skin products. I’ve never seen definitive proof they work but people seem to love to spend a lot of $$ on them.

Face Cream/moisturizer: for me, if it absorbs quickly and leaves my skin feeling supple I’m happy. Fragrance is distracting and often makes my eyes water, so I avoid. I’ve always had clear, fine-pored, yet sensitive skin, so I tend to keep to organic/health food store creams. Now I use FAB and love it. Also, many expensive creams I’ve tried leave a tacky feel on my skin, which is an absolute NO-GO.
As a side; I knew an older woman growing up who slept with vaseline on her face every night, and she had the most beautifully soft skin I’d ever seen (like a doll). I’d never do that myself, but it always left an impression, made me think expensive products were a waste of money–even when I worked with/sold them.

Cleansers: my skin needs to feel clean. Gel or foaming cleansers are my go-to, DE Juju and Peekee cleansing bars have been a game changer for me, in a good way, especially for travel (less liquids). Cream cleansers I hate, always have, my skin never feels squeaky-clean. I feel like there’s a pile up on my face of cleanser then moisturizer, atop.

Basically, I don’t veer far from what I know, but If something is weird on my skin (ie: a sample), I won’t test it further. Genetics must play a hand in it too, people always assume i’m mid-30s and I’ll be 50 next year-oy!

I determine if a skincare product is working for me when my skin feel better – not tight, but supple and smooth. If there is a slight reduction of wrinkles and my makeup goes on well.
I tend to be very picky when I buy my skincare these days – nothing perfumed if I can help it and I tend to check out reviews of the product. Beautypaedia is fine, but it doesn’t cover the brands that I am currently using (Goodness, Swisse, Sukin Greens, Collstar and Estelle and Thrid).
I tend to prefer some niche brands that are easily available, often on sale and cruelty free and that have the right kinds of ingredients.
And I do agree with Stacey above, that you have to give the products a go before you discard them, unless you are having a reaction to them.
Why brands add perfume/fragrance to skincare is beyond me.

Over time, I’ve definitely learned to only change one product at a time because my skin is so sensitive. It freaks out so easily that I have to step my way into a new routine! In addition, I always try to wait at least three weeks before I make a decision on it!

I A/B test them! I recently bought a $140 moisturizer/serum from Kate Somerville and used it on my right side versus my trusty Caudalie on the left for several days. The KS side was significantly worse – larger pores, duller skin – so the most priciest skincare I ever bought went back to Sephora.

I do the same with new foundations to test finish, oxidization, wear time and tolerance/breakouts.

I think I can pretty much tell on my own skin what works or not within two weeks of usage. I have dry/combo skin more oily on bottom of face and around nose. I’m 54 at 40 I started training for my first marathon I thought it was a crazy idea but did I get hooked after the first one and did 9 more and a few short races 13.1, 6 and 3k’s so I have squinted plenty and gotten plenty of sun. Yikes! I’m cool/fair so yes I worn spf bottles and bottles of it Coppertone Sport is my favorite on body and have gone through millions Chapstick, Gatorade & Gu. Both yucky and better left for astronauts. Lol! I do have pretty good skin at 54 my laughing lines and some between eyebrows but nothing else so far. I’m always afraid to end up looking like a raising with the sun, wind, cold, sun in the beautiful Santa Monica Beach and hills running like a headless chicken is been an awesome part of my life plus the many friends. It is addicting in a good way I never dreamed of Boston just a simple runner trying to improve in each race by a second, minutes if possible. I need the sun it makes me happy and seeing all nature cant think of nothing better. Also love gardening so there’s goes being in the sun again. To make it simple, what I most look for in skin care is a great moisturizer and with the advanced age aha, glycolic, hylouric acids. I have always used drugstores creams now I’m using Cera Vé moisturizers all of them and change according to season. I do notice my face more supple (plump nicely moisturized). I do go to a dermatologist for mainly melea under neck and get prescribed aha 0.05% (tretinoin) sometimes I do use all over face to clear skin nicely. However, I’m extremely careful with any kind of peeling this one has been great no redness, flakiness or nasty reaction. Olay Regenerust gave me a small burn on top of my left cheek first time I tried and is over the counter I stopped using right away! Gave it away. From my dermatologist he has recommended over the years Eucerin, Cetaphil, Cera Vé and he says he loves VaniCream which I haven’t tried yet I’m thinking after Cera Vé facial cleanser but I’m happy with CeraVe. I’ve used Ponds face cream many years ago I think is actually good for dry skin and in high school Noxema and cleanses well love the clean smell but at this age it might be too drying. Once while vacationing in hot humid Florida I used Desitin before bed prescribed to my daughter after a diaper rash poor thing glad it went away in one usage. it works well to instantly get redness of face not kidding! I applied to go to sleep and woke with some nice skin. It is thick so I use a warm towel to remove it and don’t use often at all but have it handy in case of burn or redness it is magic! Lol!
I do want to point out I think each time i use cleansers with any kind of beads on face and especially neck area the little melea white bumps I may have seems to spread worst. I’m finishing one in the bathroom but after that will never buy another scrubbing thing. I think they make matter worst. Am wondering why my dermatologist didn’t want to prescribe the aha again? I’ve called several times trying to place an order and they said prescription was expired. Now they say doc. has to see me again? Why? He already knows my skin. With the flu going around I’m not visiting a hospital unless I really need to. I’m thinking of trying that new acne medicine that is available now without prescription forget it’s name? Available at Target a blue bottle. Or The Ordinary now available at Sephora is a great thing. Sorry for my long rant I hope it helps someone with similar skin. I do appreciate others rants and love this topic. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and advice. 😘

I think it really depends on the product. Some items are meant to do something immediately. For example, if you put on sunscreen, did it prevent a sunburn that day? Or masks— a sheet mask should make my skin feel plump and moisturized.

But for anti aging or anti acne products, you just have to be patient for results.

And I do take pics of before and after for some items like brightening or spot-reducing products. So I will scroll through my camera roll and see if there was any improvement over 2 months.

So I usually finish a skincare product, and that’s when I may decide it’s worth repurchasing or trying a new product. I rarely return skincare products unless it caused an immediate irritation (or I just didn’t like it bc unpleasant scent, etc).

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