Do skin care products stop working?

Lara Worthington looking surprised

We know you’ve wondered the same thing at some point or another!

Have you ever fallen in love with a new skin care product only to find the results stagnate after a few months? We know we have. Now, while it would be easy to assume the product stopped working or your skin simply got used to the formula, you would be doing your skin a major disservice. As it turns out, the idea that skin care products stop working after a period of time is one of the biggest skin care myths around. 

To find out what’s actually happening when you think a product stops working and when you really need to switch up the products in your skin care routine, we spoke to the founder of Paula’s Choice Skin Care, Paula Begoun. 

Do skin care product stop working?

According to Begoun, “it’s a complete myth that skin adapts or gets used to any skin care product. It just isn’t physiologically possible. Think about it like your diet: your body never adapts to healthy foods. It never gets used to whole grains, spinach, dark berries, kale, flax, omega fatty acids, carrots and [so] on. If anything, your body just wants more of the good stuff. Skin is the largest organ of the body and you need to feed it healthy components.”

But why do you stop seeing impressive results from your products after a while? Begoun notes that when people think their skin is adapting or building up a tolerance to skin care products, the reality is the more dramatic results they may have experienced at first are starting to become less noticeable because the product has effectively restored and repaired the skin. In other words, the ingredients are still keeping your skin in tip-top shape, but the results seem less impressive because they’re now working to maintain your now healthy skin rather than ‘fix’ it. 

When this happens, it’s important not to discontinue use of these products. “This is especially true for anti-ageing ingredients. Skin needs these vital substances on a constant basis to keep skin looking young,” explains Begoun. She adds, “even if you can’t see it on a day to day basis, they’re helping prevent further damage from occurring and repairing existing damage as much as possible”. She notes the main reason we all get stuck on this skin care merry-go-round is because we harbour unrealistic expectations of what skin care products can actually achieve. “Skin care has its limitation and hoping it replaces cosmetic surgery or corrective procedures is not possible.”

When to change up your skin care routine

While sticking with well-formulated skin care products is essential to maintain the health of your skin, sometimes you will need to switch up your routine. Begoun explains, “you only need to change your product if the needs of your skin change. While everyone’s skin has basic needs, changing to different formulas depends on what’s happening to your skin. For instance, if your skin becomes drier during winter, then yes, of course it makes sense to tweak your skin care routine to include a plant oil booster to spot-treat dry areas or to use lighter serums in the summer when humidity makes everything feel heavier on skin.”  Although, she points out that these changes aren’t a given for everyone. Ultimately, you need to pay attention to your skin’s particular concerns rather than switching up your routine just because the temperature has altered or because of the notion that you need to change for the sake of change. 

Want more top skin care advice from Paula Begoun? Then discover the seven retinol myths you need to stop believing and find out how long it should take for your acne products to work.

What are your Holy Grail skin care products? Are you guilty of ditching a product because you thought it stopped working? Let us know in the comments below.

Main image credit: Getty

Kate has worked for BEAUTYcrew since early 2016, first as a contributor, before being named Beauty Writer in 2017. She loves picking the brains of the industry's top experts to get to the bottom of beauty's toughest questions. Bronze eyeshadow palettes are her weakness and she's forever on the hunt for the perfect nude nail polish to suit her fair skin. Her words can also be found in Men's Health magazine.