By Mercedes Taylor
With a love for cosmetics from a young age, my curiosity knew that there was much more to the goop inside the jar than meets the eye. I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Analytical Chemistry and moved to California to chase my dreams of becoming a cosmetic chemist, passionate about developing results-driven skincare. Now, I am the Product Innovation Manager for Youth To The People. My primary experience is in research and development, with a focus on both sustainability and the formulation of skincare, bringing natural ingredients to the forefront of the cosmetics market. I’m here to answer all your skincare questions.
Question: How Long Does It Take to See Results from Skincare?
Answer: Our skin does a lot to protect us, but the aging process of our skin is one that requires a lot of maintenance, and we need to do a lot to protect it. The first thing you can do to ensure your skin is well maintained and healthy is to wear sunscreen because nothing else we use will ever be as effective as it can be without taking the necessary step of sun protection. Read that again if you have to. That said, if you are using a sunscreen every day, it’s likely that you’ve got a routine going to care for your skin’s hydration, moisture, radiance, clarity, and so on. Whatever your skincare goals, there are a plethora of active ingredients to be on the lookout for when putting a routine together. And you might be wondering how long you’ll have to wait before seeing visible results.
Something to keep in mind: your age has a lot to do with when you can expect to see results from your skincare—desquamation, or your skin cells turnover rate, slows to around 28+ days from 21 days after age 30. But if you are looking to increase your skin cell turnover rate, exfoliation helps remove the dead skin cells. Not only will you see results pretty much right away, but the process also helps the active ingredients in the rest of your routine absorb quicker and work a little faster.
AHAs, or alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), are chemical exfoliators, and two major active AHAs in skincare are glycolic acid and lactic acid which each yield different results. The small molecules that make up glycolic acid are super effective at breaking down oxidized lipids between our dead skin cells—you can see results overnight. When used consistently (between weekly and daily), glycolic acid, as found in the Kombucha + 11% AHA Exfoliation Power Toner, can help with pore size, texture, and dark spot reduction. You’ll start to see these results within a week of use, with effective visible results obvious with consecutive use over two to three months.
With proper formulation, lactic acid not only works wonders as an exfoliator but can also provide hydration, as when found in the Superfood Firm + Brighten Serum—and it’s possible to see the results from hydration within hours of applying it. Lactic acid is also a part of our natural moisturizing factors, so skin is ready to receive its benefits. As lactic acid penetrates the top layer of our skin, or stratum corneum, it interacts with the minerals on our skin’s surface including sodium lactate. The result of sodium ions from our sweat and lactic acid coming together makes an amazing humectant that draws water towards the skin and hydrates it instantly. Hydration is key to maintaining healthy, even, glowing skin.
Peptides are our skin’s insurance policy. With longer and more consistent use, peptides can combat premature aging, and in certain cases, wrinkles and redness. In an eye cream containing peptides, continuous use will result in the improvement of fine lines or crow’s feet, particularly if you weren’t using an eye cream before.
If using a redness-reducing peptide consistently, such as pentapeptide-59 found in the Adaptogen Soothe + Hydrate Activate Mist, over time skin will become less susceptible to environmental stressors, including pollution and changes in weather. Continued use will fortify your skin’s inflammation receptors (which cause premature aging) to become more tolerant, and able to combat those environmental stressors (like oxidation from pollution). Peptides play a long game.
Vitamin C is a hero ingredient, and it comes in many forms, formulas, and derivatives which all essentially have the same purpose: to lighten dark spots, even skin tone, and firm skin. Bold claims from one antioxidant! As for the questions of how long it takes to see the results for each of these claims, the answer is essentially as long as it takes for your skin cells to turn over.
With proper exfoliation and layering of vitamin C, skin tone can begin to even, or become less red, within the first two weeks of application. As with any skincare regimen, consistent and routine use of vitamin C will help lessen dark-spots in about one month, during which vitamin C has the ability to visibly inhibit enzymes that allow for melanin production in healthy skin cells.
But to really see the results promised (glowing skin, even skin tone, and brightening of dark spots) it will easily take three to six months, no matter how concentrated the vitamin C or which derivative is used.
As for firming the look of skin, vitamin C and other antioxidants act as insurance policies—vitamin C is a necessary ingredient in the formation and grouping of amino acids into collagen fibers. As we age, similar to our desquamation process, our body’s ability to produce collagen slows down tremendously. Adding environmental stressors like UV damage and oxidation from pollution doesn’t help. Vitamin C can do some heavy lifting in this area, but you likely won’t visibly see the results quite like with some other active ingredients. What you may notice however is that as you age, with consistent use, vitamin C will reduce the likelihood of fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots appearing, particularly when compared to what your skin may have looked like without incorporating vitamin C into your routine.
On the whole, keep your skin goals in mind when putting an active-containing routine together, and remember that consistency with your routine is key for ensuring that those actives in your skincare regimen are doing the work you expect them to do.