I thought I had finally done it. After years of trials, errors, and experiments gone wrong, I had finally come up with a skincare routine my skin loved. It made it so soft, flawless, and glowy!
But… something’s changed. Lately, my dry patches have become flaky. And my skin is more sensitive. When I apply retinol or salicylic acid now, my skin feels tingly and warm. That had never happened to me before.
What the heck went wrong?
There are several things that can make even the best skincare routines and products fail. Here are the main reasons your skincare routine isn’t working anymore:
1. Your Skin Has Changed
Just because you have oily skin now, doesn’t mean you’ll be cursed with it for the rest of your life. Skin is a living organism, and, like the rest of your body, changes as you get older.
As sebum production decreases with age, skin can become drier. As hormones go into overdrive, skin can get oilier or even acne-prone.
When this happens, you have to tweak your skincare routine accordingly. Keep using products for oily skin when yours has become dry and thirsty just isn’t just gonna work.
Related: How To Identify Your Skin Type (Plus, FREE Test)
Struggling to put together an anti-aging skincare routine that really works? Download your FREE “Best Anti-Aging Skincare Routine” cheatsheet to find out what really works to minimise wrinkles and achieve a youthful glow. (P.S. It features product recommendations + right application order):
2. The Climate Has Changed
Sometimes, your skin changes because of the weather. This is what’s happening to mine now.
My skin was so used to the sunny and warm Italian weather, the windy London fall climate caught it totally by surprise. Now, the cold is seriously drying it out.
All of a sudden, my beloved Total Olay Effects Day Cream SPF 15 isn’t enough to keep my dry cheeks moisturized anymore. Now they need something more heavy-duty, like a facial oil. Using two creams is a drag, but that’s just what my skin needs at the moment. *sighs*
If you’re moving or travelling to a different climate, tweak your skincare accordingly. You don’t want to carry your entire skincare stash with you only to find out your beloved skincare products have stopped working!
Related: Pack Smart: Skincare Tips For Travelling
3. Your Skincare Products Aren’t Penetrating Your Skin Deep Enough
Contrary to popular opinion, not everything you put on your skin is absorbed deeply into it. But the best skincare ingredients do need to penetrate the skin to work their magic.
Dead cells, grime, makeup residue, and all the other impurities that accumulate on your skin during the day can get in the way, creating a barrier that prevents ingredients from penetrating even the most superficial layers of the skin.
The trick to kick that wall down is to exfoliate regularly and cleanse it well, both morning AND night. Doesn’t matter how tired you are, take that makeup off!
Related: 4 Ways To Help Your Skincare Products Better Penetrate Your Skin
4. You’re Mixing Incompatible Ingredients Together
The more, the merrier, right? Well, not always. Some skincare ingredients don’t just get on that well with each other. AHAs/BHA, for example, can inactivate retinoids.
Retinoids shouldn’t be used with benzoyl peroxide either (they’re such demanding divas, aren’t they?). Both ingredients are very powerful and, used together, they can irritate skin.
If you want to use all these ingredients, do so on alternate days, or use one in the morning and the other at night. Even then, though, their combined use can be too harsh for you skin. Always be on the lookout for signs of redness and irritation.
Not sure which ingredients you can’t use together? Download your FREE “How To Combine Actives Like A Pro” cheat sheet to find out the best and worst ingredient combinations:
Related: Mix And Match: The Skincare Ingredients You Should Never Use Together
5. You Have Unrealistic Expectation
Just because a moisturizer promises to turn the clock back 10 years, detoxify your skin, and make you a great cup of coffee, it doesn’t mean it will.
There’s only so little skincare products can do, especially if you insist on skipping sunscreen, eating too much garbage, and exercising too little.
Truth is, most products can only moisturize and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Even those that can do more, like preventing fine lines or wrinkles, or treating breakouts, take their sweet time to work. You won’t see results overnight. Don’t expect to.
Related: How Long Should You Use A Skincare Product Before Deciding If It Works Or Not?
The Bottom Line
There are so many reasons why your skincare products aren’t working. Sometimes your skin changes on its own. Other times, your bad habits are sabotaging your best efforts. Once you’ve found out the real reason, you can easily tweak your skincare routine accordingly. Hello again, gorgeous skin!
Well said! great post
You have reminded me to exfoliate, but my rosacea skin does not like chemical exfoliant. Any suggestions?
Ying, have you tried salicylic acid? I know that’s a chemical exfoliant, but it’s what dermatologists recommend for rosacea because of its anti-inflammatory properties. If that’s too strong for you, then your skin may not tolerate exfoliation at all.
I tried BHA 1% and 2% from Paula’s Choice. My skin rejected them both. *shrug*
Maybe when my skin gets stronger i could try them again. 😀
That’s too bad! Yeah, try the 1% BHA when your skin gets stronger. In the meantime, just focus on cleansing your skin really well. 🙂
And not following proper use of a product. Oil cleansers should be applied to dry skin to work best. If serums are put after moisturizer, it probably won’t penetrate the skin properly. I think unrealistic expectations happen because products usually have such fabulous claims.
Janessa, that is so true! Thank you for rhe remainder. 😉
There is at least one study stating AHA and Retinoids can be combined for maximum efficacy so where did you get the info that they inactivate each other? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4375771/
Silvia, thanks for the study, somehow I missed that!
There have long been two schools of thoughts in skincare. One says that, due to their differences in ph, the two shouldn’t be mixed. The other disagrees. This study is pretty recent and seems to settle the matter once and for all.
When my skin gets drier I just add a few drops of oil in my moisturizer.
Cathy, I do the same sometimes. Works a treat.