Can skin become immune to active ingredients?

I was wondering if the skin could become immune to the effects of a cream, for example retinol? Surely it won’t always work as well as it did initially, when it was new to the skin?

active ingredients

Dr Maureen Allem from Skin, Body & Health Renewal responds:

“Your skin can certainly adapt to a product. A cream containing retinol, for example: once the product has got the skin cell turnover to speed up and the skin has improved to that level or percentage of retinol, that product will simply maintain your results if you continue to use it. This is why most companies have ‘steps’ or ‘levels’ of retinol creams so that when your skin has become used to the first level, you can then step up to a stronger level. Topical products can only take you as far as what their active ingredients can do. This is also why it is so important for you to investigate the potency of your topical creams and serums. How much of the active ingredients are in that bottle and at what concentration? Because your skin adapts to products after prolonged use, it is a good idea to introduce new serums and other actives from time to time – “cycle your skincare,” if you will.”

Do you have a skincare question on your mind? Ask Dr Allem here.

Other articles you may be interested in:
What is the correct way to use retinol?
The best acne-fighting ingredients
Antioxidants and your skincare routine
How can I treat acne scars?
What’s in your anti-ageing product?


8 Responses

  1. My lips are dry, so if I don’t want to put anything on my lips, what can I use to keep them soft!

  2. I was wondering about this. It’s good to know that circulating products won’t cause any harm to the skin.

  3. Great, thanks for this. I had always wondered if your skin becomes ‘resistant’ to products after prolonged use.

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