Skincare 101
September 18, 2019 2:58 AM   Subscribe

I have a hopefully straightforward skincare question but I am getting confused by the information overload available on the web. Very simply: how long does it take for skin to adjust to a new (but still, very basic) skincare routine? I have added a couple extra steps to my routine and now my skin looks good but feels dry and tight. Should I give it a week or two, or is this a clear indication that it isn't working?

I'm 38 and have OK skin apart from the odd breakout, some of which can get quite bad. I don't really know a lot about skincare. I've always just cleansed and used eye cream and a moisturiser with SPF in the am and then cleansed and used eyecream and a night cream in the pm. This has always suited my skin fine although it hasn't really helped with the breakouts which I use topical ointment for.

Lately I took friends' advice and added 2 serums to my routine. In the morning now I clean my face then put 2-3 drops of The Ordinary hyaluronic acid serum, and follow up with eye cream and moisturiser with SPF. In the night I clean my face then put 2-3 drops of The Ordinary niacinamide + zinc serum and follow up with eye cream and night cream.

My skin looks terrific and glowy and it feels soft to the touch, but my face feels dry and tight. What's up with that? Does that mean I should stop using the serums? It's annoying because, even though The Ordinary is not an expensive brand, I still have 2 whole bottles going to waste if I stop using them. But I've only started using them seriously for the past few days. Is it usual to give skin a few weeks to settle into a new skincare regime? Because my skincare routine has been so basic for so many years, I have absolutely no idea and there is so much information on the web, some of it contradictory, that I just find googling extra confusing.
posted by unicorn chaser to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (13 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I'm basically you - and I give it a week to see if my skin will adjust to a new cream or treatment. I have found the best thing for my breakouts is to obsessively rotate my pillow so I never sleep on the same bit twice and hot wash my bedding twice a week.
posted by london explorer girl at 3:05 AM on September 18, 2019

My skin tends towards dryness and dehydration, so dry and tight is never a good sign for me and a sure sign that I will breakout shortly. Prolonged dryness can can be a sign of a compromised moisture barrier. I recommend adding an occlusive to your night routine to lock in more moisture. I use Aquaphor, but plain old Vasaline works just as well. The key to it not feeling sticky is to use just a very small amount in a thin layer.
posted by PosterGirlwithNoPoster at 4:19 AM on September 18, 2019

I find The Ordinary Niacinamide+Zinc fairly drying, so that might be causing some of the change you're noticing. You could reduce the frequency of use, add another product to compensate, or try to look for another product to get whatever benefit you want from it (brightening/sebum control/anti-redness/whatever).

Other than that, it sounds like you have a bit of humectant (the hyaluronic acid) that helps draw water into the outer layer of the skin and then some occlusives (the day and night creams) to help prevent that water from escaping the skin, but I'm curious about your cleansing step. Are you washing your face with soap, warm/hot water, a foaming face wash, an oil-based product? Things like soaps, water-based products with a pH higher than the skin (which is a lot of them), those remove a lot of oil from the skin and can mess with the skin's moisture barrier, so if you've introduced a product that reduces sebum production (which the zinc PCA in The Ordinary product does), your skin may have lost some of its ability to hold onto water content, even with an occlusive cream on top. I can't use most foaming face wash/cleansing products without my skin feeling quite tight, so I might recommend looking for a specifically low pH face wash or trying a micellar water cleanser/oil-based cleansing product. I like the Bioderma Sensibio/Hydrabio micellar water cleansers, which come in a large size are are not too terribly expensive (if you're in the UK they're probably readily available at Boots or something).

I would recommend an extra step to add more water content to the skin, since that's what makes the biggest difference in my dry skin (33/M, so probably some differences in skin needs, but still). Light, non-astringent toners like you find in a lot of Asian skin care routines go on before your serums and usually help introduce more water to the skin so that the normal moisture loss during the day is less noticeable. You might also look for a separate day cream and sunscreen product, since I often find that I can't get both an acceptably elegant finish and adequate UV protection at the same time with combination skin care+sunscreen products.
posted by wakannai at 4:22 AM on September 18, 2019 [3 favorites]

It can take up to four weeks for your skin to adjust to a new product. However, if something’s making your skin feel dry and tight, that’s usually a sign to back off: overly dry skin is hard to bounce back from and can lead to your skin attempting to overcompensate with increased oil production. The general
advice with adding drying products is to start 2-3x/week, increasing to daily use as your skin gets used to it. Niacinamide is drying; try eliminating it temporarily, and once your skin feels better add it back in every other day and see how that goes.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:44 AM on September 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

When I use drying night things, I top off with a thin later of the goopiest kind of Cerave, the kind in the tub. For me, this prevents both dryness and stinging from the product.
posted by Frowner at 5:32 AM on September 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

Niacinamide really isn't for everyday use for everyone. I have the same product you do and for me it's become a 2x a week product and not a daily. Try cutting back on that for a while.
posted by phunniemee at 6:58 AM on September 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

The Ordinary hyaluronic acid serum makes my skin feel tight, so I apply it after my shower when my face is damp, and add moisturiser as soon as it soaks in.
posted by ellieBOA at 7:22 AM on September 18, 2019

Nthing the Bioderma Sensibio. I thought micellar water was bogus, but my skin was so dry it was hanging off my face like old wallpaper. Not a good look. At a local cosmetician's suggestion I quit using soap on my face altogether. I cleanse with the Bioderma and follow up with the thinnest layer of grapeseed oil. My skin hasn't looked this good in years.
posted by kate4914 at 8:17 AM on September 18, 2019

I use both of those from The Ordinary in the am. HA is great at absorbing water. But if you live somewhere very dry, it could actually dry out your skin.
I LOVE the niacinamide serum now. But I had to introduce it very slowly. So maybe cut back to every other day or every 3 days at first.
posted by Neekee at 8:35 AM on September 18, 2019

Just a hint for next time. When introducing new products. Do it one at a time & slowly (ie don't go straight to using it every night) so you can figure out which product is causing the problems. I'd cut back to every few days with the products, though like others have said it's probably the Niacinamide, it's effective but can be drying I can only use it every few days at most. I still see good benefits but not the drying.
posted by wwax at 8:42 AM on September 18, 2019

Yeah, reduce the niacinamide to 2x a week, and add a couple drops of rosehip oil in it's place.
posted by ananci at 9:15 AM on September 18, 2019

The Ordinary hyaluronic acid serum makes my skin feel tight, so I apply it after my shower when my face is damp, and add moisturiser as soon as it soaks in.

I use Neutrogena's hyaluronic serum and I apply it as soon as I get out of the shower when my face is still wet. I don't even bother patting off the water drops. Like others have said, hyaluronic acid will pull the moisture out of your skin if there isn't enough water in the atmosphere. I then apply moisturizer and when the serum and moisturizer has soaked in, I apply a very thin layer of Vaseline over the areas that tend to get dry which for me are the areas around my mouth.
posted by Constance Mirabella at 11:13 AM on September 18, 2019

I just wanted to come back to this thread with an update. I started putting the hyaluronic serum on my face right after coming out of the shower while my face was still wet. I no longer experience the tight facial sensation and it must have been either a mistake with applying or just that my skin needed time to adjust. Thanks for all your advice!
posted by unicorn chaser at 4:24 AM on September 30, 2019 [1 favorite]

« Older What's this job called: building tech across...   |   Got screwed over by my boss, but I still have to... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments