Ask the Expert: Can Skin Get Used to Products?
Let’s paint a picture: You’ve been using your very favorite night cream for what feels like forever but recently, it isn’t having the same effect on your skin. For whatever reason, your skin seems to have built up a tolerance and you think it’s stopped working. But, is it even possible for our skin to get used to our products? We talked to Dr. Rebecca Kazin, board certified dermatologist at the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery, to find out.
What is Tachyphylaxis?
The thought that our skin can become resistant to products—that formerly created a visible impact—may actually have some validity after all, at least in certain scenarios. “It’s called tachyphylaxis,” says Kazin. “Your skin becomes used to something, so it doesn’t really work as well.”. While this phenomenon doesn’t always occur, Kazin explains that thicker skin—like the skin on our backs, hands, and feet—will get used to products that we use on heavy rotation faster than thinner skin—like the skin around our eyes.
The Silver Lining
While it’s never a good thing when our favorite products seem to become less effective, Kazin explains that there’s one ingredient that’s beneficial for our skin to become used to: retinol. When our skin becomes “retinized,” as Kazin puts it, it’s able to build up much-needed tolerance to the very potent ingredient. “With retinols we work our way up [to higher concentrations], because we want our skin to become retinized,” she says. She explains this process like a jet getting ready for flight: “You need the runway before you can take off.”