Why Your Skincare Products Just Stop Working!


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Let’s say you fall in love with a new face cream; the way it feels, smells, looks, and works for your skin is *chefs kiss* perfection. Fast forward six months, a year, or perhaps longer, and you find that it’s just not working the same as it used to. Is it just in your head, or did your beloved hero start to betray you?

You’re not going crazy.

The phenomenon of your skincare products appearing as if they are “not working” as well as they used to is 100% real. However, there are a few different reasons why this happens, and it’s important to pinpoint the exact reason before giving up on your former bestie.

1. Your Skin Has Acclimated

A common reason why skincare products seem to “stop working” is simply because they have acclimated. So they’re still working their magic, but you’re just not seeing the same side effects since your dermis has had time to get used to the ingredients.

“For example, initially a product may cause skin to peel. Once the skin acclimates to the product, the visible effects subside but the product keeps working,” explains Dr. Tahl Humes, a board-certified dermatologist and the medical director of Vitahl Medical Aesthetics in Chicago and Denver.

This is most likely to happen with more aggressive products, such as retinoids, alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), and enzymes. The familiar zing of your go-to glycolic acid serum might not feel as zingy, or your retinoid might not be causing as much redness or flaking as it used to. Once acclimated, the side effects simply aren’t as noticeable anymore. For irritating products like retinol, this is actually a blessing.

Stay the course. In some cases, you might even want to speak to your dermatologist about upping the concentration of active ingredients in your product.

2. You’ve Achieved Balance

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Another possibility to consider is that your skin is actually balanced and healthy. Those initial dramatic results you experienced could have faded because your skin got better.

“For example, if you had acne before starting your current routine and now you have clear skin, you may think that your products are not effective,” says Dr. Marina Peredo, a board-certified dermatologist in New York. “However, if you stopped using them, you would notice acne popping back up.”

As long as your skin looks and feels healthy, your products are probably working just fine. If a product starts negatively affecting your skin – which might include sagging, dullness, or ongoing dryness – that’s a sign it’s time to part ways.

3. Your Needs Have Changed

Your skin’s needs evolve over time, which can render former hero products less effective. Dr. Peredo says, “Factors like age, hormones, and the environment can cause your skin to wrinkle, produce less or more oil, and reduce elasticity.”

For example, teens and those in their early 20s tend to produce way more oil than those mid-20s and beyond. And the older we get, the less and less oil we produce. So, an aggressive salicylic acid mask meant to combat oily teenage skin is going to become overkill as you age.

To a lesser degree, the environment and even the season can impact whether a product’s still right for you.

“During winter, you should be using thicker moisturizers and serums to keep your skin hydrated since the cold weather can dry the skin out,” advises Dr. Peredo. “During summer you should use an oil-balancing cleanser since humidity can increase your sebum production.”

As a general rule of thumb, reevaluate your routine every year to keep up with your skin’s unique needs.


4. Your Products Have Expired

Most skincare products have an expiration date. Using them past this date can potentially negatively impact the health of your skin, resulting in bacterial infections and acne breakouts.

“It is important to check the expiration dates on your products so that they are working at their absolute best,” says Dr. Peredo. “It is also important to store them properly. For instance, products such as vitamin C cannot be stored in direct sunlight and this can cause it to be ineffective.”

If a product has changed color, smell, or texture, it’s time to wave buh-bye. Remember, there’s a cute little jar with a number in on most of your products, which indicates how long you have to use the product before the formula begins to degrade.


For example, 6M means you have 6 months to use it from the date of opening it. Another reason not to overshop and have too many beauty products open at one time. No one likes to waste beauty products! Check out our product expiry guide to know when it’s time to toss your beauty products.

5. The Product Formula Has Changed (Or You’re Using a Knock-Off)

From time to time, a company may switch up its original formulation. Sometimes it’s not a significant enough change to impact your skin, but that’s not always the case. Another possibility is that the product you just bought isn’t actually legit. It’s super important to buy your skincare products and cosmetics from authorized retailers in order to avoid this potential issue.

Have you ever experienced a skincare product suddenly “stop working” on you? Let’s discuss in the comments below.