Does The 12-Week Rule Really Hold Up For Skincare?

Whether or not you like to switch up your skincare routine often, we've all been swept up in the excitement of trying out a new product only to feel fed up a week into using it when there are no discernible changes. Sometimes this is because a product isn't working for you or you're not using enough of whatever you're trying out. No matter the cause, there's no doubt that it can be tricky to know how exactly how long you should try out a new skincare product before calling it a day.

No one wants to waste months on testing a product that leaves their skin looking exactly the same, especially if you have other products you want to try. If this sounds like a you problem, the skincare testing 12-week rule could be the thing you're looking for. We've got all the info on the 12-week theory and why it could be the best change you ever make when trialing new products.

12 weeks may seem like a while, but it could have more benefits than you think

According to PureWow writer Jenny Jin, testing out a new product for 12 weeks is how you give it the best shot at working. You may be wondering why 12 is the magic number of weeks you should use a new skincare item, and the answer is that our skin goes through cycles. On average, our skin experiences a new turnover of cells every 28 days (this number is less for teenagers and more for adults in their 40s and 50s), so it makes sense that testing out a new product for just over two skin cycles will allow you to see whether or not it truly works.

Jin notes that this 12-week trial period does not hold up if you experience a reaction to the product — you should never continue using a product that makes your skin hot, itchy, or generally irritated. The same goes for if you experience a bad breakout that you're sure is from using the product, as this will likely not get any better if you're having a reaction so early on. 

Not all skincare products take the same amount of time to work

Some products take less time to work than others so the 12-week rule won't apply. However, keep in mind any product with an "overnight" skincare claim is always a red flag, as all skincare products take much longer than one night to kick in. For example, you could see results from a new cleanser in 30 days, meaning by the 12-week mark, you will be able to see significant results instead of just a small change. A product like a serum will take much longer to show results, with the average time before you see a difference being around six to eight weeks. With products like this that take longer to work, you may as well carry on using them for four more weeks to hit the 12-week trial period. 

In general, giving a new skincare product 12 weeks to work its magic will do you no harm. Even if the product doesn't do much for your skin, the time span of two skin cycles will allow your skin to recover fully during cell turnovers, so it's a win-win all around.