People often tell me how a product (or ingredient) makes their skin "purge" before it improves. We have a lot of misapprehensions about purging and breaking out, and I hope to put these to rest once and for all. This guide will help you determine whether or not your skin is actually purging, or if it just plain ol' doesn't like the product you're using.
First, purging is not a myth. Your skin can and does purge. But, not how you might think.
Some companies claim that their products cause purging due to the skin "detoxing". This is false, plain and simple. Your skin doesn’t "purge" unless there’s an ingredient in the product you're using which increases skin cell turnover.
how can i tell if my skin is purging or breaking out?
Although it may seem so, the difference between purging and breaking out is unfortunately not always very clear.
If you’re using a product that speeds up how fast your skin cells are shed and replaced, then it's possible that the product could be “purging” your skin of pimples that were already waiting to erupt. When a product speeds up skin cell turnover the entire skin cell cycle speeds up as well, giving clogged pores the chance to turn into pimples much quicker than they otherwise would have. This means that the early stages of pimples were already present in some form and will generally surface all at once or in clusters. It doesn’t, however, mean that toxins are leaving your body.
After this initial "purge", things should slowly but consistently improve, not only from the point of purging but also compared to your skin before you started the product.
Some ingredients and products that can cause "purging" include:
- AHAs & BHAs (glycolic acid, lactic acid, malic acid, salicylic acid)
- benzoyl peroxide
- retinoids (adapalene, tretinoin, isotretinoin, retinol)
Anyone using can attest to the fact that your skin goes through an adjustment phase, which varies in severity from person to person. The skin breaks out mostly in the regular places (if you rarely get pimples on your forehead, you probably won’t purge much on your forehead), and usually with the same you always get.
Using a mask that contains enzymes, AHAs, or BHAs can usually cause purging. AHA and BHA include ingredients like glycolic, lactic, or salicylic acid. The purging areas should normally be in places you usually break out, and it will progressively improve over time. Below is an example of someone using an exfoliating pumpkin enzyme masque, and after 2 months skin has improved although there may have been purging initially.
Purchase Pumpkin Enzyme Masque - Exfoliating mask for acne
However, if your skin is breaking out, your acne will get worse, and won't improve until the . It's also common to start breaking out in new spots on your face, and the breakout may be atypical. For example, If I suddenly get pimples on my forehead or cheeks (where I rarely, if ever, get pimples), it’s tell-tale sign that I’m breaking out.
KEEP THIS QUICK-REFERENCE IN MIND
- if your skin is breaking out more than normal but in the usual places, gets worse and then progressively gets better - it's likely that your skin is purging
- if your skin is breaking out more than normal, but not in the usual places, and is not getting better - it's likely that your skin is breaking out
- if your skin is breaking out more than normal, but in the usual places, but is not getting better - it's likely that your skin is breaking out
- if your skin is breaking out more than normal, and you're using a new product with ingredients that stimulate cell turnover - it's likely that your skin is purging, but if it doesn’t improve with time it’s likely that your skin is breaking out
- if your skin is breaking out more than normal, and you're using a new product with NO ingredients that stimulate cell turnover - it's likely that your skin is breaking out
SO, WHAT TO DO IF SKIN IS PURGING?
Thankfully, the purging phase shouldn't last long. Most purging lasts for only about a month or two, which is the amount of time that it takes for your skin to renew. If your skin is purging, you need to stick with the new routine/product - use it as much as you're supposed to, according to directions. Using a product improperly can make purging and breakouts prolonged and worse.
Remember, even if a product has the ingredients to purge, it doesn't mean it's just purging - these products still have the potential to cause actual breakouts and irritation.
AND WHAT IF MY SKIN IS BREAKING OUT?
If your skin just keeps getting worse and your breakouts seem out of the ordinary, just ditch the product, because it's probably not right for your skin.
Once you stop using it, go back to your "normal" or previous skin care routine to return some balance before trying another new product.
When you’re breaking out and healing from a breakout, it’s a good time to take extra gentle care of your skin. Cleanse morning and night, moisturize and treat, use face masks like Banish’s Pumpkin Enzyme Masque, and don't overdo it.
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