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How Often You Need To Change Your Skincare Routine?

Find out when is the best time to ditch your old skincare routine and try a new one.

Is it necessary to regularly change our skincare routine to maintain results? And when do we know it might be time for a change? These are questions most of us ponder. We’re here to answer them.

Do you actually need to change your skincare routine regularly?

You’ve probably heard that age-old myth that your skin gets used to skincare products, making them less effective over time. It’s a common belief, but let’s clear the air: it’s not scientifically backed. The efficacy of active ingredients like retinoids, hyaluronic acid, or salicylic acid doesn’t diminish over time unless the product has expired or been compromised. So if your skin is healthy, clear, and meeting your aesthetic goals, there is little reason to disrupt a routine that is working well for you. 

However, life’s not a constant, and neither is your skin. Various factors like weather changes, medications, hormonal fluctuations, aging, or even traveling can impact your skincare routine. For example, colder weather might make your complexion drier, requiring a richer moisturizer or an added layer of a hydrating serum or facial oil. Or let’s say you start experiencing more frequent breakouts or increased sensitivity; these could be signs that something in your routine needs tweaking.

How often should you change your skincare routine?

Contrary to popular belief, there is no universally correct time to change your skincare routine. The primary indicators for a change should be your satisfaction with your current results and how your skin is reacting to the products. If you decide to change your routine, it’s best to space the changes at least four weeks apart. This allows ample time for your products to work. The skin cell renewal cycle typically spans about a month, so this one-month window gives you a more accurate read on your routine’s effectiveness.

When is the best time for a change?

It’s not uncommon to reach a point where your current regimen seems to lose its effectiveness or cause adverse reactions. Here are some signs that it might be time to reevaluate your skincare routine:

You’re no longer getting results

If your go-to products are suddenly falling flat, it might be time to reassess. Sometimes, the skin’s needs change due to various factors like diet, stress, or even changes in water quality. If you’ve been religiously using a vitamin C serum for that radiant glow and it’s not delivering anymore, consider switching to a higher concentration or try products with different active ingredients, like retinol and glycolic acid.

Season change

Seasonal shifts can be a big deal for your skin. A lightweight moisturizer might be your BF in the humid summer months, but come winter, you could be reaching for a richer formula to combat dryness. Seasonal changes can also affect how your skin responds to certain ingredients, making it a good idea to tweak your regimen as the seasons turn.

You experience skin reactions

Persistent breakouts, redness, irritation, and dryness are clear signs you’re using the wrong skincare products and your routine needs a change. In such cases, it’s advisable to simplify your routine to the basics—cleanser and moisturizer—until the reaction subsides, and then slowly reintroduce products to identify the culprit.

You start using new medications

Certain medications, especially hormonal ones or those for conditions like acne or psoriasis, can impact your skin’s sensitivity and how it reacts to products. If you’ve started on a new medication, consult a healthcare provider about potential interactions with your skincare routine.

You got pregnant

Pregnancy can bring about a host of skin changes due to fluctuating hormones. You might experience anything from increased sensitivity to “pregnancy glow.” Plus, some ingredients are not recommended during pregnancy, such as certain retinoids and chemical exfoliants. Review your skincare routine with your dermatologist if you’re expecting a baby.

You have a new skin condition

Conditions like eczema, rosacea, or sudden severe acne are game-changers for your skincare routine. These conditions often require targeted products, potentially including prescription treatments.

Products expired

Using expired products is a no-go. Not only do they lose their efficacy, but they can also harbor bacteria that could lead to infections. Don’t just rely on the expiration date, though. Sometimes, products go bad before that. Signs that a product has gone bad include changes in texture, color, or smell. If you notice these, it’s time to toss the product and refresh your routine.

Related: Explaining The Shelf Life Of Skincare Products: How To Tell When They’ve Expired And You Need To Toss Them

You traveled to a new climate

Moving to a new climate with different levels of air humidity, pollution, and UV index can prompt adjustments to your skincare routine to combat their effects. For instance, dry climates can cause your skin to become dehydrated, so you might need to add a richer cream to compensate for the moisture loss. If you move from a rural area with clean air to a polluted city, you should consider antioxidant-rich products to protect your skin from the damaging effects of free radicals.

Related: How To Adapt Your Skincare Routine Based On Climate

How to change your skincare routine

When changing your skincare routine and introducing new products, the golden rule is: one at a time. This isn’t just to pamper your skin; it’s a proven approach to isolate variables. Introduce one product and give it at least 2-4 weeks to work its magic—or not. If something’s not working, you’ll be able to pinpoint the problem more easily rather than playing a guessing game with multiple new products.

And here’s an expert insight: If you’re introducing potent actives like retinol or glycolic acid, you might experience a “purging” phase where things get worse before they get better. Don’t freak out; it’s usually a sign that the product is accelerating cell turnover, bringing all the gunk to the surface before clearing it out. However, if after 4-6 weeks you’re not seeing results, that’s your cue to reevaluate.

The takeaway

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer for how often you should change your skincare routine. This largely depends on how satisfied you are with the results and how your skin reacts to your current routine. If your skin is happy, then you probably won’t need to change your skincare routine. However, if your routine no longer seems effective, or if you’re experiencing breakouts, irritation, or anything in between, it’s time to consider altering some of your products. When making changes, do it gradually to minimize skin stress. Your skin is unique, so feel free to experiment until you find a routine that works best for you.

Who wrote this?
Picture of Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu is the founder of Women's Concepts and a certified skincare consultant. She has over five years of experience working in the beauty editorial industry and over a decade as an acne sufferer. With a background in dermatological research, Ana brings a wealth of expertise to a diverse range of topics, from buzzy ingredients to anti-aging and acne advice. She holds a BA in Sociology and Political Sciences. Find her on LinkedIn or Instagram.
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