The Guide to Your Skin’s Purging Process

An easy guide to what the skin purging process is all about. Is your skin purging its acne?

Women and men who wish to control their acne or skin issues try different products, hoping it would be the right one. But sometimes, you have to get through so many regimens before your skin clears out. You might even break out more than usual when starting a new skincare routine. I know this situation can be nerve-wracking, and most of you would probably think that the product is making your skin worse.

But there’s a thing called skin purging that many people confuse for a breakout. This process is actually a good sign that the latest ingredients you introduced to your skin are working. That is why it’s important to differentiate when you’re experiencing a bad reaction or a skin purging process. So today, I’ll discuss what it is, how long it lasts, how it differs from breakouts, what causes it, and how to deal with skin purging.

What Is Skin Purging?

When I first heard about the skin purging process, I immediately thought about The Purge movie franchise. Purging seems like a scary thing that I wouldn’t want my skin to undergo. Is skin purging real? Is skin purging good? These questions keep bothering me. But after scouring r/SkincareAddiction for some skin purging Reddit information, I realized that this is a vital process for your skin to look better.

Skin purging refers to your skin’s reaction when you use a new product that increases skin cell turnover rate. Generally, your skin will renew on its own approximately every 28 days, but some active ingredients can speed up the process. When this happens, your skin will shed dead cells faster to reveal fresh, clearer, healthier, and younger-looking skin.

But before these cells reach the surface, the skin has to push out everything blocking their way. All the gunk, bacteria, and sebum clogging your pores will rise to the surface as blemishes. It may look different for each person, but it could lead to a mix of common acne such as:

It may seem like the product is making you break out. However, this is just your skin’s reaction to remove all the gunk. If you see some skin purging before and after pictures, you will notice that the scary side effects shouldn’t last long.

In some cases, people are not aware if their skin is still purging or not. This is because it’s quite hard to tell if that’s the case, and it would take a while for you to know so. A Reddit user recently posted a before and after collage, which showed that her purging ran for 8-12 weeks.

Link to Reddit

How Long Does it Last?

Everyone is different, but the skin purging process should only take one full skin cycle. Generally, the whole thing should be over within 6-8 weeks after you start a new skincare regimen. But board-certified dermatologist Jennifer Chwalek, MD, recommends waiting 12 weeks or longer before you expect to see results following your skincare routine. If your skin doesn’t improve and you still suffer from skin purging acne after the 12-week mark, you need to consult a dermatologist. You could be having a bad reaction and need to adjust its dosage or frequency, or you need to ditch the product completely.     

Products That Can Cause Skin Purging

Certain active ingredients can trigger your skin to purge. If you’re changing your skincare regimen and trying new products, you need to look out for these likely culprits.

  • Alpha and beta hydroxy acids (skin purging glycolic, lactic, malic, mandelic acids, and more)
  • Retinoids (skin purging retinol, tretinoin, isotretinoin, tazarotene, retinyl palmitate, and adapalene)
  • Exfoliating agents (skin purging salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide)

Skincare products containing these ingredients cause purging since their main function is to help generate new skin cells. Chemical peels and other procedures such as laser treatments and microdermabrasion can also trigger the skin purging process.

Skin Purging vs. Breakouts

People can easily confuse skin purging as a breakout, leading them to throw out the product. But if you can differentiate the two, you can easily make informed decisions and avoid mistakenly scraping your current skincare routine.

Here are some factors to keep in mind and help you spot the difference:

  • Ingredients – It’s not purging if you’re flaring up after using products that don’t contain any of the active ingredients listed above.
  • Duration – Skin purging whiteheads and acne tend to grow and heal faster than your typical breakouts. If it persists longer, then your skin is suffering from normal pimples and acne.
  • Location – Blemishes caused by purging appear only in areas where they usually occur. If the product doesn’t suit your skin, you’ll experience breakouts in new areas too.

Tips and Tricks on How to Deal With Skin Purging

You can’t completely avoid the skin purging process, but there are some tips and tricks to make it tolerable.

  1. Introduce skin purging products slowly to your skin.
  2. Don’t touch or pop your pimples and acne.
  3. Don’t use harsh chemicals and products that can aggravate the issue.
  4. Avoid exposing your skin to harsh sun rays. Use sunscreen and sun protection.
  5. Stay hydrated and moisturized.
  6. Take skin purging pictures to monitor your progress.

From Bad to Good

Your skin’s purging period may be pesky, but this is the start of something good. Once your skin adjusts to your new routine, you can expect clearer, healthier, and youthful skin. Just make sure it’s not a typical breakout, take care of your skin during the process, and persevere with your routine.

– Written by Emma Collins, @Collins_Writes on Twitter

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