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How To Get Better Skin In 30 Days (Or Fewer)

A consistent skin-care routine is, like any other type of routine, a habit, and there are differing opinions on how long it actually takes to form, break, or otherwise change one. The antiquated 21-day myth has been busted; recent studies suggest it could be 66, or really just anywhere from 18 to 254, and by the 150th day you might start to wonder, Why even bother trying to change anything at all?

Perhaps one day there will be a chip you can implant in your brain that will send an electric shock through your fingertips to remind you to put on your retinol before your moisturizer each night. That day is not today. But there is a shortcut you can take to good skin. Rather than diligently following a prescribed routine for months on end, fast-track yourself to results with a 30-day program that contains everything you need to transform your skin in, yes, roughly one month.

These six accelerated treatments will brighten up dull skin, diminish fine lines, reverse dryness, and tackle dark spots in the time it takes for your flood insurance to kick in. (No matter how invested you are in your future complexion, don’t forget that sea levels are still rising.) And if establishing a twice-daily skin-care routine you can actually stick to in the longterm was on your list of New Year’s resolutions — well, you can start in February, right?

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Like starting with 2.5-pound weights and working your way up to a Herculean 15, this four-week resurfacing system works as a kind of strength training for your skin: The exfoliation starts off slow with a lower dose of hydroxy acids in the first ampoule, then builds in intensity over the course of the treatment. By the end of the month, you’ll have smoother, more even-toned skin that’s also newly protected against free-radical damage, thanks to the inclusion of an antioxidant called idebenone.
Elizabeth Arden Prevage Progressive Renewal Treatment, $162, available at Elizabeth Arden

Rather than increasing in strength over time, this four-week treatment does things a little differently, with each serum formulated to tackle a specific skin-aging concern. The first week works to restore hydration using a rejuvenating herbal extract; the second week encourages elasticity and smooths fine lines with a blend of ceramides, peptides, and wild yam root; the third week uses apple extract and phospholipids to balance and brighten; and the fourth and final installment promises to make skin more resilient and less prone to sagging thanks to myrothamnus flabellifolia, otherwise known as the “resurrection plant,” for a total skin reset.
StriVectin Skin Reset Rejuvenation System, $139, available at Nordstrom

Far beyond simple brightening benefits, this system — which includes a week’s worth of individually-packed powder cleanser and a liquid booster meant to be applied with your moisturizer twice daily — uses pure, potent vitamin C to render skin firmer, clearer, more even-toned, and yes, noticeably glowier. The composition of vitamin C is such that it degrades when exposed to oxygen, so the specialized packaging ensures the ingredients stay fresh and powerful.
Clinique Fresh Pressed 7-Day System with Pure Vitamin C, $27, available at Ulta Beauty

Whether you’re already hooked on retinol or dipping a toe into the consummate face-fixing ingredient for the first time, this booster system (which actually comes out to 45 days of treatment, but who’s counting?) will kick your results into high gear. Each of the three phases consists of two separate components — a highly concentrated, retinol-packed regeneration complex and a peptide-rich growth-factor stimulant — meant to be layered or mixed together. The active ingredients work in tandem to protect and moisturize while the retinol works its magic, with each phase increasing in potency.
BeautyBio R45 The Reversal 3-Phase Retinol Booster System, $150, available at Sephora

These three tiny capsules sure don’t look like much, but the science supporting the straight-outta-Iceland ingredients inside — which stay the same through the full 30-day treatment — is the real deal. Barley-based epidermal growth factors, or EGF, are responsible for the serum’s efficacy (and its price): The brand produces the cutting-edge ingredient in a carbon emissions-free greenhouse to ensure it’s as pure as possible for maximum potency to yield better-hydrated, more even-toned skin while minimizing wrinkles, pores, and redness.
Bioeffect 30 Day Treatment, $290, available at Bioeffect

It’s not quite instant gratification, but this optimized treatment promises a total skin transformation in just 10 days by pairing a powerful vitamin-A derivative (that’d be a retinoid) with doses of hydrating hyaluronic acid. By switching between the two, the system ensures skin never gets dry or irritated even when faced with a strong shot of A, and leaves it clear and refreshed, with dark spots diminished and moisture levels restored.

Sarah Chapman Power A Renewal System, $166, available at Net-A-Porter

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