Why isn't this working? We are an instant gratification society. We learn at a young age that things should work quick, immediate, or overnight, and with many over the counter skincare, you will think that's exactly what is happening. It's a trick.
Not all tricks are bad, I promise. Most of the time an instant gratification effect is caused but a tensor (makes your skin feel firm), bleach (makes your skin feel bright), or a cosmetic color or particle (makes your skin appear to have a more even tone). These initial effects give a wow-effect, which we all love, and when done correctly, they will give a visual boost that you need to keep using your product while the more powerful, deeper-penetrating ingredients do their work which takes more time. This is only a problem is when your bottle of cream just has that initial wow factor, and there are no ingredients in the formula to give long-term results. This class of product is referred to as cosmetics. Cosmetics are formulas used over the counter and in department stores, drug stores, and infomercial brands because they give an initial cosmetic impression to the skin's surface.
Why do I need to wait for the real results? The skin works in cycles, every 4-6 weeks you have a whole new stratum corneum (outer layer) that we need to nurture, feed and protect. The truth of beauty is that most things you really want to happen in the skin is deep down and over the counter products just simply cannot get to it. You will have to wait, sometimes several months until those issues get closer to the surface and you can work on them topically (it's one reason why we estheticians tell you to exfoliate because it will speed up results).
The marker and notebook example. If we look at dark spots as an example, the markings are throughout multiple layers of the skin similar to ink bleeding through pages in a notebook. An initial brightness from the product will typically be a cosmetic effect, but if there is a cosmeceutical in the formula targeted to correct skin darkening, there will be an ingredient that is designed to pick the pen off the paper and stop it from bleeding through on even more pages. It takes around 6-weeks to stop the body from continually damaging the skin and making it darken further. Around this time is where the real change in the skin happens because a cosmeceutical can make a change in the way the skin functions. After several months you shed all those layers of ink-stained paper (spotted darkly pigmented skin) revealing a clean sheet of paper (even-toned skin).
I'm confused, what does all this mean? In plain English. Always give your products one full skin-cycle, six weeks, to decide if you wish to continue with them or not. Depending on the severity of the wrinkle or dark spot many types of products will only start to show change around the 6-week mark. Be careful not to be fooled by products that appear to work instantly in a commercial; there is almost always a catch. If you need help figuring out what will work long term and what is just a cosmetic, ask your esthetician, we are highly trained in skincare products and will be able to help you know exacly what you are buying.