One of the hardest parts of taking better care of your skin is trying to decide whether or not what you’re doing is working. Some days, your skin probably looks like flawless perfection. Other days, you probably feel like you look like a greasy ogre.
On the good days, it’s easy to do your routine and feel good about it. On the bad days though, it can be so tempting to start throwing new products at your skin to try to “fix” the problem.
Your skin’s progress might often seem like one step forward, two steps back, and a half-step sideways. This is especially true when you’re constantly staring at your own skin and feel like every tiny flaw is glaringly obvious.
So today, I’m going to give you a few tips for objectively tracking the progress of your skin in your skincare journey. Whether you’re new to the game, or you’ve been doing this for a while, these tips can make your hard work feel more worthwhile.
Progress might seem like one step forward, two steps back. This is especially true when you’re constantly staring at your skin and feel like every tiny flaw is glaringly obvious.
1. Take Regular Progress Photos
It’s really hard to look at your skin objectively. After all, you live with it 24/7, up close and personal. Even if you try to pay attention to your skin’s progress, your brain’s natural tendency is to make whatever it sees the “new normal,” so even if your skin is significantly less red than it was two weeks ago, you probably won’t be able to appreciate just how far you’ve come.
How often you take skin progress photos is up to you, but I would recommend no more than once a week. Try to take them in the same place, with the same lighting and the same expression. If you change any of those factors too much, it can be hard to accurately compare your before and afters.
2. Keep a Skincare Diary
This is a great thing to pair with your skin progress photos, except I would recommend writing in it daily, at least in the beginning. It doesn’t have to be anything extensive, but it can be helpful to note things like which products you used, where in your cycle you are (if that applies), if you have any major stressors that could contribute to breakouts, etc.
You can do this on your phone (the iPhone Notes app has gotten a nice upgrade that makes this simpler), or you can treat yourself to a cute notebook and pen set dedicated to your skincare journey.
Doing this can help you figure out which products are working, which are duds, and which might be causing problems if you have a bad reaction. It can also help you manage the size of your stash and notice patterns in how your skin behaves, both of which can help you progress faster.
3. Be Consistent With Your Routine
Trust me, nobody hates washing her face every night more than me. But I know how important it is to keep up with the routine that has transformed my skin over the years.
If you tend to get tired or bored doing your routine in the bathroom, try doing what I do and keep a skincare basket under your nightstand. I put everything important in there (including a few sheet masks for when I REALLY don’t feel like moving), and it helps so much.
Don’t be afraid to experiment with paring back your routine, too. If you can’t consistently do eight steps, see how your skin does with six. Or look for ways to simplify. Can you do multiple layers of the same toner sitting in bed rather than picking up three different toners? The most important way to keep up with your progress is to make your routine sustainable.
4. Give Your Products Time to Work
I know that you want instant gratification. I do too. Unfortunately, in the skincare world, that rarely happens. Most of us know that it typically takes about a month before we’ll see any real progress when we start adding actives to our routines, and that’s okay. But when we don’t get an instant glow from a brightening serum or we feel like that anti-aging cream isn’t doing anything, it’s important to push through the frustration.
Getting healthy, radiant skin takes a lot longer than I wish it did. While my skin is lightyears better than I ever thought it could be, the truth is that I still get frustrated when I don’t get speedy or dramatic results. Honestly, my skin is healthy enough now that I don’t think I’ll get much in the way of “dramatic results” anymore, and I think that’s another thing that we need to remember!
If you have a good routine established, then it might be time to dial back your expectations a bit. We all hit plateaus, and after a certain point, our progress starts to come in smaller, slower increments. (This is where those pictures come in handy!)
I know I sound like a broken record at this point, but remember that skincare is a marathon, not a sprint. Everything takes time!
5. Ditch the FOMO Mentality
There will always be a new collab, new trend, or new skin “issue” to target. That’s the nature of marketing. If brands aren’t constantly coming out with something fresh and exciting to consumers, they quickly become obscure.
It’s so easy to get caught up in buying every exciting, interesting product that you see online, especially if it’s affordable. Unfortunately, doing this is a great way to stall or even undo some of your progress. When you’re regularly throwing new things at your skin, you can’t easily keep up with what’s helping and what’s not. This means that you could end up with a bloated routine that you can’t maintain, or you could have a bad reaction and not know which product was responsible.
I’ve been doing this for a while now, so let me help you out. You are rarely missing out on an amazing, holy grail product. Brands want you to feel that FOMO so you buy more stuff. It’s fine to make new purchases and haul responsibly, but just make sure that you’re buying things for more than cute packaging and good marketing.
Don’t Give Up!
The annoying truth is that skincare is always a trial-and-error game. Eventually, you’ll settle into a routine with some staple products that work well, but it will always be a gamble when you add something new. If you take my advice about tracking your skin’s progress, you’ll likely find that this becomes an enjoyable hobby rather than a frustrating chore.