5 Reasons Why Your Skincare Isn’t Working

by Gio
reasons your skincare isn't working anymore

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, lately, something’s changed. 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 hadn’t happened to me before.

What the heck went wrong?

There are several things that can make even the best skincare routines and products fail. If your skincare isn’t working anymore, here’s what you can blame:

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

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 Benefit Total Moisture, Face Cream. 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.

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!

What’s the reason your skincare isn’t working? Share your thoughts in the comments below.



Allison October 13, 2015 - 3:29 am

Well said! great post

Gio October 13, 2015 - 8:11 am

Allison, thanks!

Ying October 14, 2015 - 2:42 am

You have reminded me to exfoliate, but my rosacea skin does not like chemical exfoliant. Any suggestions?

Gio October 14, 2015 - 6:23 am

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.

Ying October 14, 2015 - 6:26 am

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. 😀

Gio October 14, 2015 - 11:03 am

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. 🙂

Janessa October 18, 2015 - 4:08 am

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.

Gio October 18, 2015 - 5:40 am

Janessa, that is so true! Thank you for rhe remainder. 😉

silvia June 22, 2017 - 10:32 am

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/

Gio June 24, 2017 - 9:34 am

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.

Cathy November 10, 2018 - 4:33 pm

When my skin gets drier I just add a few drops of oil in my moisturizer.

Gio November 10, 2018 - 6:21 pm

Cathy, I do the same sometimes. Works a treat.

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