Dr. Ewoma: Can the skin build up a tolerance to ingredients?

Dr. Ewoma: Can the skin build up a tolerance to ingredients?

29 June 2021

Augustinus Bader Contributor and award-winning medical and cosmetic doctor, Dr. Ewoma, takes over the Bader Journal each week to answer some of your most commonly asked questions on application, ingredients, and skin concerns.  This week, Dr. Ewoma dispels the myth that skin can become tolerant to certain ingredients in your routine.


Can skin become ‘immune’ to certain products?

This is a question I get asked fairly regularly and there are lots of theories surrounding this idea of our skin somehow becoming ‘immune’ to certain products and ingredients. While it is possible for your skin to build up a tolerance to particular ingredients; there are lots of misconceptions about this idea. Dermatologists refer to this eventual intolerance as ‘Tachyphylaxis’ and it commonly applies to ingredients like topical steroids for conditions like eczema rather than your daily serums or moisturisers.  


Instant Results: 

Instead, there are a number of reasons why you might ‘think’ your favourite skincare product has become ineffective when there’s usually a completely reasonable explanation for this. The main one is that when you first introduce a product to your regime, it’s effects are naturally most noticeable at the beginning. For instance, after your first Vitamin C application; the results will be at their most visible. Over time, the results might be harder to notice but the product is still working.  


Environmental Changes: 

Another reason you might feel like your skin isn't responding as well to your usual products could be due to seasonal or environmental changes. Changes to temperature and humidity might mean that your richer winter moisturiser might not work as well in the summer months and require you to reach for something lighter and hydrating. Having said that, if your nourishing cream is working well for you, don't feel you have to swap it in the hotter months. As I always say, listen to your skin and what is working well for it rather than sticking to rigid rules.  


It’s really important to not quickly chop and change products as this will do more harm than good. Certain actives are designed not to be applied in quick succession so changing up your skincare routines on a regular basis could be counterintuitive.  


There are of course times when you should listen to your skin and change up your routines, for instance if a certain product starts to cause a lot of irritation or sensitivity, switch it up for something more soothing and nourishing.  


As a general rule, I tend to advocate consistency within our skincare routines, making subtle changes and introducing new products in line with seasonal changes. Also, make sure to give products a proper chance to work as constantly changing from one retinol to another, for example, will slow down the process of seeing genuine results.  


Have a question or concern you'd like Dr. Ewoma to address? Head to our Instagram and let us know in the comments. 

Shop Selection

Clean Beauty. Powered by TFC8®
From $125.00
Clean Science. Powered by TFC8®
Rich moisturizer for normal to dry skin
From $96.00