Is Your Skincare Routine Working?

When it comes to your skincare routine, it's easy to get confused and wonder whether they're really working for you. Even more frustrating, you might be wondering if the routine is making things worse if you begin to breakout or fail to see any improvement!

We completely understand how perplexing this can be, especially when you're using a skincare routine with specific goals in mind such as reducing acne or hydrating dry skin. However, knowing what results to expect and why you might not be seeing exactly what you were hoping for—or seeing unintended results—is critical.

Here at Paula’s Choice Skincare, we want you to understand what's possible and what isn't before you start replacing products on your bathroom shelf. Having realistic expectations is important, because hoping for what isn't possible can get your budget and skin out of whack. Realistic expectations plus consistent use of an outstanding skincare routine are the only way to have the best skin of your life.

How to get the results you want

So, how do you really know you're getting the best results possible from your skincare products? We have listed a few things below as well as a table which you can use as a guideline to achieve the results that you want to see. Use them to help ensure you're getting the most from your skincare routine.

1. Ignore exaggerated basic skincare product claims.

Exaggerated product claims that seem ‘too good to be true’ can be either misleading or outright false. A minor example that always disturbs us is a daytime moisturizer that claims to address all the signs of aging but doesn't contain sunscreen (or if it has sunscreen, it's less than an SPF 30). If you're not using a sunscreen rated SPF 30 or greater 365 days a year in Singapore, rain or shine, signs of aging such as uneven skin tone, sunspots, post-breakout marks and other concerns will linger or keep getting worse.

2. Stop looking for one miracle ingredient or one miracle product.

One important fact to keep in mind — a singular magic ingredient or a miracle product for your skin does not exist. Just like our bodies need a wide variety of nutritional foods to stay healthy, our skin also needs a balanced "diet" of state-of-the-art beneficial ingredients supplied through consistent use of a regular and thorough skincare routine.

Everything your skin needs cannot fit into one product and certainly can't be provided with one overhyped ingredient. Many powerful ingredients actually cannot mix well together in one product, as they inactivate each other. Prioritising including a miracle ingredient rather than paying attention to your skin’s unique needs may even backfire on you when you fail to get the results you want. You'll be losing out on the dramatic improvements you could get from using an array of necessary products that contain essential ingredients.

3. Use a carefully selected skincare routine.

For some people, a basic skincare routine can work just fine but for others, it just won't be enough to provide results you’re satisfied with. Depending on your skin type, skin concerns, and preferences, a more advanced skincare routine might be important for you. The complex needs of skin to keep it replenished with essential beneficial ingredients, protected from sun damage, enriched with hydration, nourished with skin-restoring ingredients to fight aging, maintain an even skin tone, and so on requires an array of appropriate products tailored to fit your needs – not anyone else’s.

4. Be consistent with your skincare routine.

For you to see your skin’s best results, a skincare routine should be used and followed on a regular basis. Some products you will need to use twice a day (cleanser, toner, serum), others once a day (sunscreen during the day and moisturizer at night and, for some, once-daily exfoliation), and some products may just need every other day usage, such as retinol or retinoid products or targeted solutions, or once a week (advanced exfoliants). One important thing to remember in order to achieve your desired result is to use skincare products in the correct order.

5. Don't skip exfoliation or sunscreen during skincare routine.

Nothing can be as impressive for skin as the results of including a well-formulated, gentle, leave-on AHA or BHA exfoliant in your skincare routine. Even more important is the dedicated use of an SPF 30 or greater sunscreen every single day. This is the fundamental way to start keeping every aspect of your skin young and beautiful. When used as directed with other sun protection measures, this also plays a pivotal role in decreasing the risk of skin cancer.

6. Don't expect instant results with your skin concerns.

You didn't suddenly wake up with sun damage and wrinkles, so don't expect to be able to radically diminish them overnight, either. There are products that can provide dramatic overnight results (especially an AHA or BHA exfoliant), but for the most part, it takes time and patience for a product or skincare routine to really make a difference. As the saying goes —consistency is the key, so it is only necessary to use products continuously to maintain the results that you are seeing. For example, products for uneven skin tone or removing dark spots and hyperpigmentation can take several weeks to months before results become visible.

7. Avoid basic skincare products with harsh or irritating ingredients.

Gentle is the most pivotal aspect of exceptional skincare, especially if you have sensitive, allergy-prone, or dehydrated skin texture. Non-irritating skincare products are vitally important. Products that cause sensitivity will leave your skin vulnerable to environmental damage. Routinely causing your skin to be sensitised hinders its ability to renew and restore itself plus causes constant damage to its protective barrier. You might also want to avoid using ingredients in your basic skincare that can cause problems to your skin like strong fragrances.

Also keep in mind that while your skin's surface doesn't always show immediate negative reactions to problematic ingredients, damaging reactions may still be taking place underneath the surface where you can’t see it. You may not see or feel the reaction, but if the product you are using isn't gentle, the damage is silently occurring, leading to problems down the road.

8. Your personal sensitivity to skin-restoring ingredients.

You can’t know ahead of time exactly how your skin will respond to even the best-formulated products, so you have to pay attention to how your skin reacts when you change or add basic skincare products to your skincare routine. A tingling sensation does not mean that the product is “working its magic”. It might cause serious problems to your skin that would cause skin irritation.

So, is it me or my basic skincare products?

There's so much misinformation in the world of skincare, that it can be difficult to know what you can realistically expect. The following table can help you understand the products you are using and what is possible. If the products you are using contain brilliant skincare ingredients specialised for your skin type and concerns, these are the kind of results you can expect.

Keep in mind that you should discontinue the use of any product if you experience redness, continued flaking, increased dryness, stinging, or discomfort. The adage "no pain, no gain" doesn't apply here!

Product Category

What results can I expect?

How long until I see results?

It's not working—now what?


Face looks clean and even-toned.

Dirt and makeup are easily removed from the skin.

After rinsing, skin feels soft and smooth, not dry, greasy, or tight.

Skin can look immediately refreshed, healthier, and renewed.

Depending on your skin type, try a cleanser with a different texture (gel, cream or lotion).

For oily skin, consider using a gentle washcloth or a gentle cleansing brush to be sure you're getting all your makeup off.


Skin looks radiant, feels softer and smoother.

Last traces of makeup disappear.

Redness is calmed.

For oily skin, pore size appears diminished.

Within 1 to 2 weeks for redness and pore size improvements, but you may start seeing results right away.

Many toners are poorly formulated, containing mostly skin-aggravating ingredients along with skin-sensitising fragrance (synthetic or natural) and little else. Finding a great toner is really all you need to start seeing a difference, then you'll never want to be without this step.


Surface of the skin looks and feels smoother.

Enlarged pores appear smaller.

Dullness fades as skin becomes renewed and feels silky-smooth.

Signs of aging start appearing lessened and skin tone appears more even.

You may see improvement as soon as overnight plus increased improvement after 5-14 days. Ongoing use is required to maintain results, although you can experiment with applying less often.

Try exfoliants at different concentrations (1%–2% for BHA; 5%–10% for AHA) or, depending on your skin type, in a different texture (gel, liquid or lotion).

Adjust the frequency of application. Exfoliants require some experimentation to find what frequency of use works best for you.

Moisturizer for Normal to Dry Skin

Skin feels hydrated, but not greasy.

Skin looks healthy and moisturized with a smooth, radiant texture.

Lines from dryness are eliminated and age-related fine lines and wrinkles appear smoothed and "plumped."

Hydration lasts throughout the day.

Depending on the products you were using before, you may see an overnight improvement. Enhanced results will occur within 2–8 weeks, and will increase and be maintained over time.

During the day, your moisturizer or foundation must contain an SPF 30 or greater sunscreen or you will not get the best results. Without daily use of sunscreen, signs of aging will increase, not lessen.

If your skin appears too dry or too oily by midday, you may need to switch formulas or textures. For dry skin, a more emollient and enriched formula will make a significant difference. You can also try adding a facial oil to your lightweight moisturizer.

Moisturizer for Combination or Oily Skin

Skin feels hydrated, but not greasy.

A soft matte finish combats shine.

Product absorbs quickly and feels weightless.

Skin texture is even and smooth with almost no feeling left behind. Congested pores should not increase and skin should not feel oilier.

Depending on the products you were using before, you may see overnight improvement.

Enhanced results will occur within 2–8 weeks and will increase and be maintained over time.

During the day, your moisturizer or foundation must contain an SPF 30 or greater sunscreen or you will not get the best results. Without daily use of sunscreen, signs of aging will increase, not lessen.

If your skin appears too dry or too oily by midday, you may need to switch formulas or textures (gel, weightless serums, or liquids work best for oily/combination skin types). It's fine to layer two lightweight moisturizers over slightly dry areas of otherwise oily skin.

Anti-Aging/Antiwrinkle Products (Face Serums, Facial Boosters)

Skin feels smoother and looks radiant as visible signs of aging diminish.

Over a short period of time, the skin begins to look and feel younger with an increased feeling of firmness and diminished appearance of wrinkles. Uneven skin tone becomes less apparent.

After twice daily usage for 4-6 weeks. Ongoing use is required for continued improvement. Results will continue to improve over time but do not expect to look 20 years younger or for any anti-aging product to replace what a cosmetic medical procedure or surgery can provide. These are the realistic expectations we are referring to above!

With so many ingredients and formulary options, it can be difficult to know what to do next. Our article "When Should You Start Using Anti-Aging Skincare" is a good place to start!

Acne Care Products

Blemishes are greatly diminished.

Frequency and severity of breakouts decreases.

Skin becomes clearer, congested pores and white bumps are diminished.

Dryness (flaking) or other signs of tenderness or redness should be minimal, if they occur at all.

When using products that contain benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid (the gold standard of acne treatments), you may see immediate results, but overall improvement should be apparent after 6-12 weeks of consistent use.

If your skin has not improved significantly after 12 weeks of daily use, consider other acne treatments or visit a dermatologist to discuss medical options.

Learn more about these 40 beauty myths and what really works.

To get started on your skincare routine and ensure that it works, browse our extensive selection of skincare products online.

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