How Long It Really Takes for Your Cleanser and Moisturizer to Work

The first step in starting an effective skin-care regimen is finding the right cleanser and moisturizer. Once you do, the next question is: When will I see results? But, the answers aren’t so clear cut, and here’s why.

Cleansers
Generally, it takes two to three days of using a new cleanser before you can see if it’s working. If you have oily skin, you’ll see results as soon as the first wash. However, how fast you see your skin improve overall depends on a number of factors. “The improvement of the oiliness of your skin will depend on other treatments to control the oil production,” explains dermatologist and founder of VMV Hypoallergenics, Dr. Vermen Verallo-Rowell. “Taking anti-androgenics like Spironolactone, some of the birth control pills, or Retinoids like Isotretinoin, dries skin up after about two to four weeks.”

Moisturizers
While your skin type determines how quickly cleansers deliver results, the type of moisturizer you use plays a big role in how fast you’ll see hydrating effects. Using products with main ingredients that include petrolatum, for example, you'll see skin improve within a day. “Petrolatum acts as a barrier on the surface of the skin because it is occlusive,” Dr. Verallo-Rowell says. “It allows little water and air to get through from the outside and to get out from the inside. Moisturizing results are therefore within a day of application; days if the dryness of the skin is severe.”

For creamier types of moisturizers, such as those with ingredients like ceramides, fatty acids and antioxidants, it can take at least a week to see the full effects. Because they work to restore oils and lipids back into skin to keep it firm and hydrated, the results last longer, so it’s definitely worth the wait.