Purging or Breaking Out: What’s Happening To Your Skin?

Purging or Breaking Out: What’s Happening To Your Skin?

Picture this: you’ve finally got your hands on that skincare product you’ve been eyeing. You excitedly open it up and follow instructions. While you’re waiting for the product to work its magic, what do you see? A constellation of break outs!

This could mean two things: either your skin is purging or it’s reacting. What’s the difference? Let’s find out. 

Skin Purging

Purging is the result of faster cell turnover. This means, pimples and blackheads that would usually take weeks to spring up to the surface, show up almost immediately and all at once. So, if you’re using a product that promotes faster skin turnover, you’re likely to experience purging.

Having said that, it’s important to note that the product has caused only existing comedones to break out, and not caused new ones.

Purging can last up to 4-5 weeks.

How to identify?

Purging generally occurs in your problem areas. A cluster of whiteheads or blackheads will crop up all at once and look pretty much identical to each other.

What should you do?

Take a short break and continue using the product. Most of what you see during skin purging are dead skin cells that didn’t make it to the surface properly. Products that promise cell repair by increasing skin turnover, rely on this process to clear your pores and even treat acne. As your skin adjusts to the product, the comedones will reduce and eventually vanish. Hang in there through the angry red breakouts phase, because clear skin awaits on the other side of this!

Most likely to cause purging:

Products containing hydroxy acids (glycolic, lactic, malic, mandelic, salicylic and ‘fruit acids’).

Retinoids (retinol, tretinoin, adapalene, isotretinoin, retinyl palmitate)

Benzoyl Peroxide

Exfoliants (scrubs, brushes and enzymes)


Skin Reaction (Breakouts)

Breakouts resulting from a reaction to the product happen when the product further clogs your pores or causes irritation. Something in the ingredient list may not be sitting too well with your skin, in which case you’ll experience irritation that leads to inflammation, which means more breakouts.

How to identify?

Unlike purging, breakouts are less organised and more likely to happen on a new area of your face. The breakouts are of different sizes and often painful.

If the breakouts persist for beyond a month, it’s not purging, it’s a reaction to the product.

What should you do?

Immediately discontinue using the product, and look for something more suited to your skin.

How to manage a purge?

Introduce the product slowly into your routine. Start with a lower concentration and smaller amount. Use the product less frequently. Give your skin ample breathing room, as you gradually increase the usage.

Support your skin by using a gentle cleanser, keeping it hydrated with a humectant, using anti-inflammatory and anti-irritating products.

Protect your skin from harsh weather – be it the sun, snow or strong winds.





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