Huffington Post posted “Do Skin Care Products Need To Tingle To Prove They’re Working?” featuring Dr. Purvisha Patel.
The article includes Dr. Patel‘s expert commentary on product efficacy.
A lot of people ― this writer included ― like to think that if a skin care product tingles when applied, it must be working. While that’s not always true, sometimes a product’s tingly effect might very well mean it’s working, in some way.
The ingredients that often lead to a tingling sensation are typically exfoliants like vitamin C, retinol and alpha hydroxy acids (like glycolic acid), Dr. Purvisha Patel, a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Visha Skincare, told HuffPost.
“Those products exfoliate the skin, which means they take a little bit of the top layer of the skin off. … You [could] feel a little sting,” Patel said. “That makes you feel like the products are working because, of course, the nerves are firing on the surface of the skin because the skin is newer underneath and all the dead skin cells have been exfoliated.”
Sometimes, Patel said, it’s all about the experience.
“There are specifically formulated ingredients that [can be added] into skin care products to give the cooling feeling, and that’s part of the experience of a skin care product,” she said. “They do that so it feels cool and fresh so it goes with the product. But it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s working, and it doesn’t have any clinical efficacy or clinical benefit, but it helps with your skin care experience.”
If some products tingle and others don’t, you might find it hard to figure out which ones are actually doing anything to your skin.
A good first step is to check the labels of your products. If you see ingredients like glycolic acid or retinol, you can expect there to be a tingling sensation as the product works to exfoliate your skin. If you see ingredients like menthol and eucalyptus, you might still feel a tingling or cooling sensation, but it’s largely experiential.
According to Patel, the only way to know if a product is actually working ― that is, providing your skin with its advertised benefits ― is to use it consistently over a period of time. She suggested testing a product for at least four weeks before deciding whether it’s working for you.
And if you’re wondering whether a product works even if it doesn’t tingle, the answer can definitely be yes.