How Long Do Skincare Products Really Take to Work?

How Long Do Skincare Products Really Take to Work?

You read about amazing, skin-changing ingredients. You research the best brands on the market. You buy top-rated products. You’re ready to see the results.

And if you don’t see anything, you lose interest and move on to the next best thing. It’s human nature.

Part of the problem is impatience and wanting to see results now. But the biggest issue is a lack of information and misleading marketing that promises you’ll “see results in as little as two weeks!*” (just don’t look at the fine print next to the asterisk).

That’s why we want to demystify this timeline and break down exactly what to expect (and when) from all your skincare essentials.

AHAs and BHAs

Time Frame:

AHA (glycolic, lactic, etc) - Right away, peaks at 12 weeks

BHA (salicylic acid) - Right away, peaks at 12 weeks

How and why: Alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) are exfoliants that work by dissolving the bonds that hold dead skin cells to the surface of your skin. This provides even exfoliation, encourages cell turnover, increases skin repair, and helps nutrients reach the inner layers of the skin. It comes with lots of visible benefits that most people start to notice right away:

  • Improved skin texture
  • More balanced skin tone
  • Increased hydration
  • Diminished lines and wrinkles
  • Reduced signs of sun damage, including wrinkles and crepey skin

But, Rome wasn’t built in a day. You want exfoliation that’s gentle and effective over time. So while you’ll start seeing results like softer skin right away, you won’t see the cumulative effects until you’re about 2 months in with regular use.

A word of caution:Don’t overuse these products in hopes of getting faster results. Overusing AHAs and BHAs is an increasingly common practice that can lead to redness, burns, dryness, photosensitivity, and overall confused skin. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t use these products more than every other day, and don’t mix a bunch of different AHAs and BHAs together either!

Hyaluronic Acid

Time frame: A few minutes

How and why: This is one of those miracle products that starts giving you results right away. As a humectant, it moisturizes using the water that’s already in your body, drawing up moisture from the deepest layers of your skin.

And it’s extremely effective: just one gram (0.03oz) of hyaluronic acid can hold up to six liters of water, and it’s capable of binding 1,800 times its own weight in water - whoa!

Even better? It can actually regulate moisture levels within your cells so you don’t get too much hydration.

Be patient if you have skin that’s flaky, peeling, or tight to the touch. Those are all signs of severe skin dehydration. If your skin is that dry, there’s not much moisture in the surrounding environment for the hyaluronic acid to use.


Time frame:12 weeks

How and why: Niacinamide is a popular jack-of-all-trades skincare ingredient that can address:

  • Fine lines
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Acne
  • Oily skin
  • Dehydration
  • Uneven skin tone

How can it accomplish all of this, you ask? By strengthening the skin’s natural barrier. It boosts the production of ceramides - the proteins that actually make up the barrier, or the “bricks." This keeps infection and bacteria out while keeping moisture and nutrients in (yay!).

It can also reduce sebum production, which makes it particularly useful at preventing acne and other issues related to oily skin.

None of this happens overnight. Though you’ll notice some effects immediately, most studies show that niacinamide produces significant results after about 8-12 weeks. Also, look for products that contain 5% of this ingredient - that’s the concentration that’s shown to give the best results without causing irritation.

Vitamin C

vitamin c skincare powerhouse

Time frame: 3+ weeks

How and why: Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that:

You'll find it in Eight Saints products as Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate (SAP). This is the most stable form of vitamin C - it will never oxidize or decrease in effectiveness with time. It easily penetrates the skin, unlike ascorbic acid, which is not easily absorbed.

To see the effects - like plumper skin - vitamin C needs to build up in skin cells over the course of several weeks. So be patient and get ready for major results.


Time frame: 12 weeks

How and why: Peptides are proteins found naturally in skin that communicate with cells to stimulate fibroblast and trigger collagen production. This minimizes wrinkles and plumps skin, promoting healthy, youthful skin.

So here’s the science. Collagen is a protein that’s abundant in our skin when we’re under 30 (and decidedly less abundant as we age - ugh). Proteins - taking it back to high school bio - are long chains of amino acids. Peptides are small links in those chains, and they can do quite a lot. Specifically, they:

  • Increase collagen
  • Regenerate the skin
  • Improve hydration
  • Support elastin synthesis
  • Decrease inflammation

Since peptides are essentially giving your body a boost to produce its own collagen, getting full results takes a pretty significant amount of time.