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Why Your Skin Care Isn’t Working

skin care products
August 19, 2014 Reviewed by Marta 7 Comments

There are some days when the skin care gods smile down on me; on these days, even to my own hypercritical eyes, my skin looks even-toned and healthy, with the wrinkles a little less etched and the sagging areas taking a defiant approach to gravity. Then, there are other times when the gods have forsaken me. When this happens, it’s easy to panic and feel a surge of disappointment with all those fancy potions and lotions. But the rational thing to do is to try to figure out what might have changed. In my case, it’s usually hormonal, which means I need to switch my regimen around (see more on this below). We are all a little different, but I’ve put together a round-up of some of the most frequent reasons why your skin care may not be working. 

You’re using too many products

When your skin care doesn’t seem to be working, it is tempting to add in more products. At most, one serum and a moisturizer will suffice for the face (and the moisturizer may not even be necessary unless you have dry skin). However, I get tons of emails from people who are layering as many as four high-performance serums at a time. Not only is this expensive, it is counterproductive. The skin is unlikely to be able to process so many active ingredients, and some of the ingredients may counteract the benefits of another. Furthermore, it becomes impossible to know what is really working for you. In general, I believe that less is more.

One size doesn't fit all

Of course, the other extreme can be true. It would be wonderful if there was a miracle product that had it all and did everything on your anti-aging wish list. I find, for example, that a serum that works well on my cheeks, giving me a radiant complexion, is not necessarily tackling those stubborn forehead lines. So I’ll pick a different product for my forehead. Note that I’m not layering two products everywhere, but selectively targeting them where they do the best job.

Your skin wants to switch to something new

I know that there are people who swear by a potion they have been using for years. I am not one of them. It isn’t that I am fickle (although I am always on the look out for something even better); it’s just that after a while my skin seems to be telling me that it wants something new. This can happen after the third or fourth bottle. I am not sure why this should be – perhaps the skin builds up a tolerance and stops being receptive to the active ingredients; perhaps the potion has done all it can do. In many cases, switching turns out to be taking a break. For example, I stopped using Medik8 Firewall for a couple of years and then found myself successfully reunited with it.

You really do need an eye cream

I’m surprised by how many people use their regular facial serum for their eye area, as well. Eye area skin has important characteristics, and as we get older they become more pronounced and demand specialized treatment. The skin under the eye does not have much of a support structure, which is why it wrinkles easily and isn’t very elastic. The eye area is also surrounded by some of the thinnest and most delicate skin on the body. There are few oil glands to lubricate this area. Furthermore, eyes have some very specific issues and needs that eye creams are formulated to tackle. This can include milia, sensitivity, dark circles, puffy eyes and crepey lines.

Too much exfoliation

I have a friend who uses a glycolic cream every day as her main serum/moisturizer. She likes that she can see results with hyperpigmentation. But I am concerned that she is beginning (its been a year now) to look washed out. Her skin glowed at first, but now it looks dull and thin – I think this may be the cause of a vicious cycle of continued use. Glycolics and other AHAs are heavy duty exfoliators, and I believe that they are best restricted to a couple of times a week. If there is a lot of heavy lifting to be done, then you could start with daily use for a month or two until you start to see results and then pull back to less frequent use with good collagen boosting anti-aging serums the rest of the time.

Unrealistic expectations

It has taken five decades for me and my skin to reach our current age. It is going to take more than a few weeks to reverse the process. When I start anything new, I don’t really expect to see any change for at least two to three weeks. And then, I’m really only looking for perceptible results, something that might be very slight but can be seen with the human eye. I’m certainly not expecting anything dramatic. Anti-aging regimens require perseverance and patience.

Consider that it isn’t your skin care that’s the problem

As alluded to in my introduction, hormones have always been an issue for my skin. Dips in estrogen can make my skin look tired and worn, putting at least five years on me. On those days, I have to remind myself that I will be over it soon and not blame my skin care. Usually, I just need to change things up a bit (Royal Nectar’s bee venom mask usually does the trick for me). So, if you are having one of those days, consider whether your skin is reacting to other factors such as stress, diet or sleep (lack thereof). Your skin certainly needs some extra special TLC, but you don’t need to consign your skin care regimen to the drawer of broken promises.

Marta Wohrle is an anti-aging skin care and beauty expert and the founder/CEO of Truth In Aging. Marta is dedicated to uncovering the truth behind anti-aging product claims.

  • August 21, 2014

    by Marta

    Hi everyone, we have a basic article on which order to use products: and you could also check out our Regimens section: In the meantime, I'll have a think about future articles that would be helpful.

  • August 20, 2014

    by Gabrielle

    Hi TIA Team-
    I too share Terri and Diane's questions and any clarity is appreciated.. It is funny yesterday I was combing through articles looking for what could be a great corrective and preventative regimen at my age (49). I have confusion about which products to use in what order. I am very grateful for the suggestion of using different serums on different areas- truly a light-bulb moment! When I was using only Arcona products they put together something for me, but I now combine Arcona with new products I try from TIA. I am a bit confused if I am double dipping certain things (peptides) and leaving out others all together. Help...?!

  • August 19, 2014

    by Diane

    Hi Marta
    I'm with Terri. I am months off hitting 50 and I read all of your articles but it can get very confusing when trying to put an program together to get the best results without over doing it. I find myself buying a number of serums as I read a new article and think wow maybe I need that product.
    Any help would be much appreciated.

  • August 19, 2014

    by Karen

    Terri B.

    I have been a 'member' (reading everything Marta writes about, buying multiple products, written review of a product) for several years now. I would be happy to share my experience and the outstanding, incredible results that I have achieved and maintained.

    Or, maybe that is a good idea for Marta & the TIA team. Great question...I had to figure out what worked best for me by asking lots of questions and trying different products.

    Best of luck on your journey to vibrant, glowing, non-sagging skin!

  • August 19, 2014

    by Joyce

    Good article and I have also noticed after 6 months of a great product results things change. Perhaps 'variety, being the spice of life' also pertains to skin care.. Wish we could just know what will do miracles would always be the same. I've also noticed it is the same with hair cate products.

  • August 19, 2014

    by Terri Batchelor

    I have all of your Five best serums, and yes I have combined some. What I truly need is some serious help on putting together a skin regimen. After reading your article, which by the way was quite informing. However I'm in a quandary as to how to use these products effectively. If there is anyway to get the proper regimen together without over doing it, any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks for the great information.

    Terri B.

  • August 19, 2014

    by Pam

    Thank you Marta for these common-sense reminders. Maybe I should print them out and put in my cosmetics drawer! :)

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