The 'Overnight' Skincare Claim That's Always A Red Flag

After months or years of religiously following a set skincare routine, life can get in the way, causing breakouts, uneven skin texture, and dullness. When your skin doesn't react to your typical products the way you want it to or how it always has, you may feel pushed to switch up what you use completely. Even after you overhaul your current collection in favor of newer items to address every skin concern that has popped up, the instant results that you're looking for may not happen immediately.

From serums and retinoids to cleansers and moisturizers, many skincare brands market their products as things that work overnight. When your Vitamin C serum that promises smooth, glowing skin in one day falls short of that promise, it may seem like you wasted your money. But while it's common for companies to claim their products can make noticeable differences in your skin within 24 hours, is this actually true?

Can skincare really work overnight?

Like most things, skincare takes consistency to work. When even the most potent skincare ingredients, products, and treatments don't result in instant changes, then the over-the-counter items in your routine will certainly take time to go into effect. Tazarotene, the strongest form of retinoid on the market, takes about four weeks to make any tangible improvements on the skin. With such a mighty ingredient taking about a month to show noticeable differences, a glycolic acid toner certainly won't smooth out the skin, banish fine lines, and brighten your complexion within one night of rest.

Depending on the skincare item and what it's targeting, waiting about 28 days to see the difference it makes is a good rule of thumb. If you're using a niacinamide or azelaic acid cleanser to brighten your overall complexion, then you can likely see results in about two weeks. However, if you're using treatments with these ingredients to treat post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation, it can take up to 12 weeks before there's a visible change.

Ways to get your skincare products to work more effectively

Although no skincare product will deliver dramatically different skin in the span of one night, there are certainly methods you can use to make your products more effective. Exfoliating consistently can often get you better results with the rest of your skincare items. In your 20s, your skin takes about 30 days to turn over. Once you reach your 40s, that number doubles to 60 days, continuing to increase as we age.

Exfoliating helps to speed up that process, shedding dead skin cells quicker than your face can. With a smoother base, your skincare products often work more effectively. For better absorption, you should be applying your products to damp skin. Outside of retinol and sunscreen, products applied to wet skin penetrate the epidermis better, making the active ingredients much more effective.

Speaking of sunscreen, wearing it daily should always be an important aspect of your skincare routine. If you're using strong ingredients for anti-aging or an even complexion, forgoing sunscreen defeats the purpose of the products you're putting onto the skin. UV rays can cause premature aging and the darkening of hyperpigmentation and dark spots. Although the products you apply can work towards staving off these issues, without the protection of sunscreen, your efforts are rendered useless.