If you have ever tried a new skincare product and noticed an increase in breakouts, you might have wondered if your skin is purging or just breaking out. Skin purging is a common phenomenon that occurs when certain ingredients, such as retinoids and exfoliating acids, speed up the skin cell turnover rate and bring underlying clogs to the surface. While it may seem like your skin is getting worse, skin purging is actually a sign that your product is working and clearing out your pores.
However, not all breakouts are caused by skin purging. Sometimes, your skin may be reacting negatively to a product that is too harsh, irritating, or comedogenic for your skin type. In this case, you may need to stop using the product and switch to something more gentle and suitable for your skin.
So, how can you tell the difference between skin purging and regular breakouts? How long does skin purging last and what can you do to ease it? In this article, we will answer these questions and more to help you understand and deal with skin purging.
What Causes Skin Purging?
Skin purging is triggered by active ingredients that increase the rate of skin cell turnover. This means that your skin cells are shedding faster than normal, revealing new and fresh skin underneath. However, before you can enjoy the benefits of smoother and clearer skin, you may have to go through a phase of increased breakouts.
This is because as your skin cells are turning over more quickly, they are also pushing out the excess oil, dead skin cells, bacteria, and other impurities that are trapped in your pores. These impurities can clog your pores and cause inflammation, resulting in different types of acne lesions, such as whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules, or cysts.
Skin purging usually occurs when you start using a new product that contains certain ingredients that are known to increase cell turnover. These include:
- Retinoids: Retinoids are derivatives of vitamin A that can help treat acne, wrinkles, sun damage, and hyperpigmentation. They work by stimulating collagen production and increasing the rate of skin cell renewal. Retinoids can be found in over-the-counter products (such as retinol or retinyl palmitate) or prescription medications (such as tretinoin or isotretinoin).
- Exfoliating acids: Exfoliating acids are chemical exfoliants that can help remove the dead skin cells from the surface of the skin and unclog the pores. They can also help improve the texture, tone, and brightness of the skin. Exfoliating acids can be classified into two types: alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) and beta hydroxy acids (BHAs). AHAs are water-soluble acids that work on the surface of the skin. They include glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid, and citric acid. BHAs are oil-soluble acids that can penetrate deeper into the pores and dissolve the oil and debris inside them. They include salicylic acid and betaine salicylate.
- Chemical peels: Chemical peels are professional treatments that use high concentrations of exfoliating acids to remove the outermost layer of the skin and reveal new and smoother skin underneath. Chemical peels can help treat various skin concerns, such as acne scars, hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and enlarged pores. However, they can also cause temporary redness, peeling, flaking, and purging of the skin.
What Does Skin Purging Look Like?
Skin purging can look different for everyone depending on their skin type, condition, and sensitivity. However, some common signs of skin purging are:
- Small bumps: Skin purging often manifests as small bumps on the surface of the skin. These bumps can be whiteheads (closed comedones), blackheads (open comedones), or microcomedones (tiny clogs that are not visible to the naked eye). These bumps indicate that your pores are being cleared out of impurities.
- Inflamed pimples: Skin purging can also cause inflamed pimples on the surface of the skin. These pimples can be papules (red bumps), pustules (pus-filled bumps), or cysts (deep and painful bumps). These pimples indicate that your pores are infected with bacteria and your immune system is fighting them off.
- Dryness or peeling: Skin purging can also cause dryness or peeling of the skin. This is because as your skin cells are shedding faster than normal, they may also lose some moisture and natural oils along the way. This can make your skin feel tight, flaky, or irritated.
How Long Does Skin Purging Last?
The duration of skin purging can vary from person to person depending on several factors, such as:
- The type of product you are using: Different products have different strengths and concentrations of active ingredients that can affect how fast and how much your skin purges. Generally, the stronger the product, the more intense and longer the purging period.
- The frequency of use: How often you use a product can also affect how long your skin purges. If you use a product every day, your skin may purge faster and more intensely than if you use it once or twice a week. However, using a product too frequently can also irritate your skin and cause more breakouts, so it is important to follow the instructions and recommendations of the product.
- The condition of your skin: The condition of your skin before you start using a product can also influence how long your skin purges. If you have a lot of clogged pores, dead skin cells, or acne lesions, your skin may purge more and longer than if you have relatively clear and smooth skin.
Generally speaking, dermatologists say that skin purging should be over within four to six weeks of starting a new skincare regimen. This is because it takes about 28 days for your skin to complete a full cycle of cell turnover and adjust to the new product. However, some people may experience longer or shorter periods of purging depending on their individual factors.
If your skin purging lasts longer than six weeks, you may want to consult a dermatologist to see if there is another underlying cause for your breakouts or if you need to switch to a different product.
How to Deal with Skin Purging
Skin purging can be frustrating and discouraging, especially when you are trying to improve your skin with a new product. However, it is important to remember that skin purging is temporary and a sign that your product is working. If you stick with it, you will eventually see the benefits of smoother and clearer skin.
However, there are some things you can do to ease the process of skin purging and prevent further irritation or damage to your skin. Here are some tips:
- Be gentle with your skin: When your skin is purging, it is more sensitive and vulnerable than usual. Therefore, you should avoid using harsh products or techniques that can aggravate your skin and cause more inflammation or breakouts. This means avoiding physical scrubs, alcohol-based toners, fragrances, essential oils, or other potential irritants. You should also avoid picking, popping, or squeezing your pimples, as this can spread bacteria, cause scarring, or prolong the healing process.
- Stick to a simple routine: When your skin is purging, less is more. You should stick to a simple skincare routine that consists of the basics: a gentle cleanser, a hydrating moisturizer, and sunscreen during the day. You should also continue using the product that is causing the purge, as stopping it abruptly can reverse the progress and make your skin purge again when you resume using it. However, you may want to reduce the frequency or amount of the product if it is too irritating for your skin.
- Moisturize and hydrate: Skin purging can cause dryness or peeling of the skin due to the increased cell turnover and loss of moisture. Therefore, it is important to moisturize and hydrate your skin regularly to prevent further irritation or damage. You should look for moisturizers that contain soothing and repairing ingredients, such as ceramides, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, or panthenol. You should also drink plenty of water and eat foods that are rich in antioxidants and omega-3 fatty acids to support your skin health from within.
- Protect your skin from the sun: Skin purging can make your skin more sensitive and prone to sun damage due to the thinning of the outer layer of the skin and the exposure of new and fresh skin cells underneath. Therefore, it is crucial to protect your skin from the sun by applying sunscreen every day with at least SPF 30 and broad-spectrum protection. You should also avoid direct sun exposure as much as possible and wear hats, sunglasses, or clothing that can shield your skin from harmful UV rays.
- Be patient and positive: Skin purging can be stressful and upsetting, especially when you are expecting positive results from a new product. However, it is important to be patient and positive during this process and trust that your product is working for you. You should also focus on other aspects of your life that make you happy and confident, such as your hobbies, passions, relationships, or achievements. Remember that beauty is more than just skin deep and that you are beautiful no matter what.
Skin purging is a common phenomenon that occurs when certain ingredients in skincare products increase the rate of cell turnover and bring underlying clogs to the surface. While it may look like your skin is breaking out more than usual, skin purging is actually a sign that your product is working and clearing out your pores.
Skin purging can look different for everyone depending on their skin type, condition, and sensitivity. However, some common signs are small bumps, inflamed pimples, dryness or peeling of the skin.
Skin purging is a phenomenon that occurs when certain skincare products increase the rate of cell turnover and bring underlying clogs to the surface. It happens because as your skin cells are shedding faster than normal, they are also pushing out the excess oil, dead skin cells, bacteria, and other impurities that are trapped in your pores. These impurities can clog your pores and cause inflammation, resulting in different types of acne lesions.
There are some signs that can help you differentiate between skin purging and regular breakouts. For example, skin purging usually occurs when you start using a new product that contains ingredients that increase cell turnover, such as retinoids or exfoliating acids. Skin purging also tends to last for four to six weeks, which is the time it takes for your skin to complete a full cycle of cell renewal. Skin purging also tends to occur in areas where you normally have clogged pores or acne, such as the forehead, chin, or nose. On the other hand, regular breakouts can occur anytime, regardless of the products you use. They can also last longer or shorter than six weeks, depending on the cause and severity of your acne. They can also occur in areas where you don’t usually have clogged pores or acne, such as the cheeks, temples, or jawline.
While skin purging is inevitable and a sign that your product is working, there are some things you can do to prevent or reduce it. For example, you can introduce the product gradually into your routine, starting with a small amount or frequency and increasing it slowly over time. This way, you can give your skin time to adjust and minimize the shock and irritation. You can also use gentle products that are suitable for your skin type and condition, avoiding harsh ingredients that can aggravate your skin and cause more breakouts. You can also moisturize and hydrate your skin regularly to prevent dryness or peeling that can result from the increased cell turnover. You can also protect your skin from the sun by applying sunscreen every day and avoiding direct sun exposure as much as possible.
The best way to treat skin purging is to be patient and stick with your product until the purge is over. If you stop using the product abruptly, you may reverse the progress and make your skin purge again when you resume using it. However, if your product is too irritating or drying for your skin, you may want to reduce the amount or frequency of use until your skin calms down. You may also want to use some soothing and healing products that can help reduce inflammation and speed up the healing process. For example, you can use products that contain ingredients such as aloe vera, green tea, chamomile, or zinc oxide. You may also want to consult a dermatologist if your skin purging is severe or persistent.