Can Your Skin Become Immune to Skincare Products?

22 June 2022

Seems like most of you think that our skin develops immunity to skincare, based on a poll I ran on Instagram recently. For more bite sized educational skincare tips, follow me on Instagram @drrachelho.


Have you ever experienced using a skincare product that you love; only to find that its effects and benefits on your skin are wearing off? Can skin become immune or “used to” a product? Are your skincare products becoming less effective? Do we need to change skincare products whenever this happens?


Does skin become immune or “used to” skincare products?


The answer is not a straightforward yes or no… The skin is afterall a very complex and dynamic organism. In some circumstances, YES, the skin can develop tolerance to certain actives because cell signalling pathways have been altered. This phenomenon is called tachyphylaxis. However, tachyphylaxis is extremely uncommon with skincare.


Tachyphylaxis usually happens with medications such as steroids; which is used to treat conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. However, if you feel that the benefits of your skincare are wearing off or are not as obvious as they used to be- that’s actually good news to celebrate! It’s not a case of your skin getting immune/used to/adapted to the product, so no need to switch them 🙂



When you first get started on a new ingredient or product, your skin will experience the greatest benefits and improvements. However, as your skin’s baseline improves, the benefits may be less visible. However, it does not mean the product is no longer working; it’s maintaining your skin’s baseline. A good example is with retinoids- at first when you get started, you may experience a lot of irritation (i.e. retinoid dermatitis). As you continue to use retinoids, you’ll find that your skin tolerates the irritation a lot better and your skin becomes smoother with less comedones and hyperpigmentation. The continued benefits are less dramatic, but that’s because your skin’s baseline has improved.


Related blogposts:

The Beginner’s Guide to Starting Retinoids

5 Affordable & Popular Retinoid Serums Reviewed

How to Lighten Hyperpigmentation and Dark Spots with Skincare




Keep going at your active ingredients even though the benefits seem to have plateaued! They’re still working to maintain your improved baseline. What you can also do to maximise the effectiveness of your skincare are to:

Exfoliate- get rid of the top layer of dead skin cells that may block the uptake of active ingredients. Apply skincare on clean skin; before makeup to improve uptake. If you need a chemical peel for a deep, thorough clean up safely; get one with your doctor.

Up your game– you can increase the concentration or use a more potent active ingredient. For example, if your skin has adapted to retinol; switch retinaldehyde or use a higher concentration. If you’re up for more heavy duty actives or prescription strength ones- discuss with your doctor to know what’s safe and suitable for you. Switching actives may also cause problems such as dermatitis; so do so safely with your doctor’s help.

Time for tweakments– skincare can only do so much because that’s the nature of skincare! They can’t penetrate deeper into the dermis or muscles to relax wrinkles or lift the skin. If you would like to address these issues, talk to your doctor about anti-ageing treatments like Botox or injectable moisturisers like Profhilo.


Ultimately, no two people are alike, and no two people’s skin are the same. If you need help with a skin condition, get your doctor’s help to help streamline your skincare regime or non-invasive treatments to get you in the right direction.


You can learn about active ingredients in the following blogposts:

Tranexamic Acid for Hyperpigmentation Explained

Why Are Peptide Skincare Products So Expensive?

The Benefits of Caffeine and Coffee to the Skin

Azelaic Acid: A Multi-tasking Skincare Active to Know

Cica in Skincare: Centella Asiatica Explained

Everything You Need to Know About Hyaluronic Acid

Probiotics in Skincare & Supplements: Do They Work?

Is Bakuchiol An Effective Retinol Alternative?

Niacinamide: A Versatile Skincare Ingredient

Benefits of Topical Green Tea

All About Topical Vitamin C



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