How Long Does It Take Anti-Ageing Products to Work?

Patience is certainly a virtue when it comes to reducing some of the visible signs of ageing. But the good news is that it may not take as long as you think: there are a handful of dermatological skincare ingredients that can have a significant effect on your skin’s appearance — in a relatively short period of time.

The average skin cycle — the time it takes for every new skin cell to push its way to the surface, die, and slough off — is about 28 days in young adulthood. But as we age, that time keeps increasing. This affects how our skin looks, as well as how long it takes for products to generate results.

Here, board certified dermatologist Dr. Sandra Lee (aka Dr. Pimple Popper) talks about some of her go-to anti-ageing ingredients, and what you can expect when you start using them.

Skin Drink hyaluronic acid serum fights ageing by SLMD Skincare

Why does it take so long for anti-aging products to work?

The time it takes to see results from your anti-ageing skincare depends several factors:

  • The goal: what is the purpose of the product?
  • The formula: what are the active ingredients, and how potent are their concentrations?
  • The user: how consistent are you in following the regimen, and how does your unique skin respond to the product?

As we age, our skin renewal process slows down from about 28 days to upwards of 60 days. This means that in your 30s, 40s, 50s and beyond, your skin cells aren’t getting replaced as quickly or efficiently as they did in your 20s. This translates into extra time for your products to make an impact on your skin.

How long does it take anti-ageing products to work?

While there’s no hard and fast rule, Dr. Lee has some estimates for how long it takes some of her most-trusted ingredients to take effect.

Salicylic Acid

One of Dr. Lee’s favourite dermatological ingredients, this beta hydroxy acid is indispensable for exfoliating the outer epidermal layers. When dead skin cells build up — increasingly with age — it makes the skin’s surface look rough and uneven. Exfoliating removes that dullness and reveals the younger layers of skin beneath.

Salicylic acid also helps clear oil and debris from pores, which may make them less visible — another sign of a more youthful complexion. SLMD Skincare Salicylic Acid Cleanser is gentle enough to use every day, and Dr. Lee says that you’ll be able to notice a difference after just a couple of weeks.


Retinol is a potent antioxidant that comes from vitamin A — and it’s one of the most-researched dermatological ingredients. Retinol can be strong, so SLMD Skincare Retinol Serum incorporates soothing hyaluronic acid and allantoin, that works overnight with less irritation.

Typically, it takes about 3 months to see results after starting retinol use. Your skin may experience an adjustment period, which could include redness, flaking, and increased breakouts — but all are temporary for most people. If you’ve got sensitive skin you may need to gradually step up to regular retinol use, so it could take a bit longer to see the ultimate results.

Hyaluronic Acid

Another one of Dr. Lee’s favourite ingredients is hyaluronic acid: this powerful hydrator can hold 1000x its weight in water. Dry skin shows more fine lines, so restoring its moisture balance can make a visible difference. SLMD Skincare Skin Drink contains hydrating hyaluronic acid, plus moisturising squalane to deliver a serious skin quenching. These results are apparent immediately, and will continue to improve over a period of several weeks.

Insider tip: Try applying soothing Skin Drink immediately before and after Retinol Serum if you experience increased dryness or irritation from using retinol.

Retinol Serum for anti-ageing by SLMD Skincare

Dr. Lee’s last word

When it comes to looking younger, no one wants to wait. But anti-ageing skincare isn’t magic — it’s science. We have to allow our skin to adapt and adjust. Having patience and sticking to a consistent routine will certainly increase your chances of experiencing positive results from your products. And one more thing I can’t stress enough: always use sunscreen. It’s still the best way to prevent visible aging in the first place.

—Dr. Sandra Lee


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