Most of you are trying real, quality skincare for the first time, so many of the instructions and the results are going to be new to you.
It’s kind of like being asked to understand hieroglyphics – and maybe there’s something to that: skincare for men goes back 6,000 years to the Egyptians, who used scented oils and ointments to soften and protect the skin and to mask the intense body odor that occurred after using a hammer and chisel just to make a grocery list.
But if you’re like most of my patients, you don’t read hieroglyphics, care about them or take interest in Egyptian history. I get it: you just want results and you want to know how to get them.
Copy that. Let’s track what you can expect in the first three weeks.
The First 3 Weeks: Getting to Know Your Skin
You’ve made an investment in your skin and you want it to pay off. So do we. We only have one job and that’s it.
Your skin does a lot of work for you. It protects you from the elements, moderates your body temperature and provides “data” that indicates to the world the state of your overall health. Treat it well and people will notice.
Here’s what I tell my patients: getting your skin in shape is exactly the same as getting your body in shape. Starting is the hardest part, consistency is key and you can’t achieve your goals without persistence.
With that in mind I’ve written this to set your expectations for the first 3 weeks. It’s important to understand what results are likely, what issues commonly occur and how to address them.
Getting Started: The Adjustment Period
We’re always excited to get into something new and it’s important to harness that enthusiasm because for many men, the beginning is the hardest part. We dermatologists call this “the adjustment period” as your skin reacts to real active ingredients and concentrations that affect skin health.
In this period we’re really prepping and conditioning the skin for deeper change later in the process – but many guys do see immediate and dramatic improvements.
The benefits we’re looking for in the first three weeks are the following:
- Regular exfoliation to brighten, smooth and tone the skin.
- Pore cleaning, to reduce whiteheads and blackheads and open the skin to deeper treatment.
- Immediate protection of the skin via SPF, to prevent visible signs of aging (that means wrinkles btw).
That’s it. We’re not trying to do too much in the first few weeks except acclimate your skin to the regimen and prep it for future success.
You may see even more benefits than this and that’s great if you do. We love to see that. But what if you don’t see these results quickly or, worse yet, what if you experience some adverse reactions? Let’s tackle that next.
How to Handle Adverse Reactions
I always try to be straight with my patients and often need to borrow an old adage from the gym: no pain, no gain. Nobody wants to hear it, but for some guys it’s true and it’s why getting great skin and working out are so analogous.
If there are issues during the adjustment period, they usually fit into one of two categories:
- Irritation, including redness, dryness, tightness or flaking
- Breakouts, including oiliness, whiteheads, acne, cystic acne, millia or bumps
Do not worry if you encounter these issues. These reactions can occur whether you’re starting serious skincare for the first time or switching from another regimen. I’ve spent my entire career getting guys over this hump and our support team at Geologie does the same. We’re ready to work with you. Here are some tips to get you up that hill, soldier.
Irritation: What it Means and How to Handle It
Any type of redness, dryness, tightness or irritation is evidence that the active ingredients in your regimen are working — typically, it’s your skin acclimating to the retinol in your Repairing Night Cream (I’ve written an entire post devoted to how retinol clears blackheads, reduces oil, battles acne and reduces fine lines and wrinkles here).
So we always instruct our guys to start out by using the night cream every other night for the first week. If you’re doing this and still feeling some irritation, NP: stop for a few days, let your skin settle and then start again every third or even every fourth night. There is absolutely no reason to rush this acclimation and the results are worth the effort.
As always, be sure to let our team know you’re having an issue so we can work with you one-on-one to make sure you find success with your regimen and monitor your progress to success.
Managing Initial Oiliness and Breakouts
The other very common issue during the adjustment period is oiliness, acne or breakouts — which are all related. Two things are happening here.
First, your body is moisturizing naturally with its own oils but it’s also now getting quite a bit of new, powerful hydration from the regimen itself from emollients and moisturizers like Hyaluronic Acid and Niacinamide.
Meanwhile many of the ingredients in the regimen (including retinol, as explained above) are designed to regulate oil production, but that can take time to kick in, depending on your skin. To manage this, we simply need to get through it and acclimate fully by graduating to using the night cream every night and by allowing your skin to adjust to all of the other active ingredients too.
Second, the initial process of cleaning out your pores can pose a variety of issues that cause some breakouts along the way. Generating more oil for a brief period and unclogging the pores through cleaning or exfoliation can cause disturbances within the pores, and for some guys this generates acne or bumps of various kinds. These breakouts can be very brief or continue for a few weeks, but they will pass and for some guys it’s simply a necessary step to clear skin.
Both of these issues can vary widely from guy to guy, regardless of starting point. Most of the time there’s no issue at all and when these issues do occur they resolve within the first 3-4 weeks the vast majority of the time, but can take up to 6 weeks to complete for some men. Beyond that period, it’s very rare to see adjustment issues persist. (Keep in mind that battling acne that existed before the regimen began is another conversation entirely; more on that can be found here.)
Over the long term, a solid regimen will not cause more oiliness and breakouts than you had before it, so if you’re experiencing an uptick, know that it won’t last and work to get to the other side. Your skin is undergoing a process of renewal and you’ll look (and feel) better soon.
As always, if you’re having any kind of issue at any stage of your skincare, reach out to us. We’re here to advise and whenever necessary alter your regimen to get the results you want, as fast as possible. We do this all the time and it’s an important part of our commitment to personalized skincare.