Introducing a new product into your skincare routine can cause what we call skin purging which can seem awfully similar to a regular breakout. Sometimes it's hard to know whether your skin is purging, breaking out, or sensitive to a new product. Here we're going to explain the difference.
What is skin purging?
Skin purging is when your skin cell turnover is increased as a result of a new product. This causes the breakout process to speed up greatly. A new product such as an exfoliating acid or retinol can cause clogged pores to come to the surface much faster than they normally would, resulting in what appears to be a breakout.
What's the difference?
The key difference here between a purge and breakout is the life cycle of the acne. With skin purging, the pimple formation process will be much quicker than a regular breakout. What we're talking about is acne that would normally take weeks or months to surface coming in all at once. Skin purging will more commonly result in whiteheads, pustules, and cysts coming to the surface of the skin.
At first, it may seem like your skin is getting worse while it's purging. This is very common but can be discouraging. We encourage you to stick with the process as the results will be rewarding. Skin purging on average can take anywhere from two to six weeks, though this is just a reference point. Depending on how many breakouts that have yet to surface, this time frame may change.
If you're experiencing breakouts in new areas than you've previously received them or if the skin is unusually inflamed, red, itchy or irritated, then you may be experiencing a skin sensitivity as opposed to skin purging. In this case, it's best to look at the types of products you're using. Introducing products that contain exfoliating acids (salicylic acid, glycolic acid...etc., retinol, retinoid, or benzoyl peroxide will almost certainly result in skin purging. These ingredients work deep within the skin to unclog pores and increase skin cell turnover. It's important to add these types of products gradually to your skincare routine to control your skin's reaction.
If you're not using one of these active ingredients, then you may need to check for other issues if your skin is breaking out. Perhaps you are using a product that contains too much oil which is clogging your pores.
In all, when it comes to skin purging vs. breakouts, you'll want to pay close attention to where you're breaking out when you're breakouts are occurring and what type of breakout you're experiencing (regular pimples, whiteheads vs. inflamed, burning or irritated skin).
Skin purging takes quite a bit of time. It can be difficult to wait out weeks of breakouts, although we encourage you to stick it out in order to see the benefits of fully purged skin.