Am I breaking out or purging?

Posted by The Skin Alley on

How many times have you introduced a new product and woke up to an unpleasant surprise? Thinking to yourself “Really Again”? As disheartening as it is, it may not be a break out but rather purging. What is purging? Can you prevent it? How is it different to a normal breakout? Most importantly, will purging ever end?


What is purging?

Skin purging is a skin reaction when an active ingredient has been introduced to your routine. Actives like alpha hydroxy acids (AHA), beta hydroxy acids (BHA), enzyme exfoliants, retinoids, benzoyl peroxide etc. These ingredients are often used to promote cell turnover and also brings slough, sebum and dormant acne to the skins surface. This can onset clusters of pimples, usually painless. The initial reaction can be discouraging as slough and sebum is brought to the surface which increases the chances of pores becoming congested. Purging doesn’t happen to everyone and it can also be a result of skin facials like chemical peels, micro-dermabrasion, hydro facials and so forth.


Can you prevent purging?

Unfortunately the answer is no. As mentioned above the process of purging is your skin trying to eliminating dormant acne, trapped sebum and slough initiated by the introduction of an active ingredient. It is an inevitable process. Trying new Korean skincare products and want to minimise skin reactions? Try applying the patch test.


How is purging different?

The differences are, breakouts are caused by irritation, bacterial infestation or congestion in the sebaceous gland; either caused by an over-production of sebum or a build up of dead skin. Breakouts can occur anywhere, whereas purging will usually appear in areas that you are reacting to. If you find pimples in a new location and and you haven't used any of those active or exfoliating ingredients, chances are it would be irritation.


Will purging ever end?

During the process you might think that you will never find the light at the end of the tunnel but thankfully purging will eventually come to an end. Purging can last anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of weeks (4-6 weeks), this depends on how quick your turnover process is.


Quick tips:

  1. Moisturise! Actives like BHA, Benzoyl Peroxide can dry out the skin, so stay moisturised to prevent further transdermal water loss and irritation.
  2. Avoid excessive sure exposure, sun exposure can dry out the skin and trigger melanin production - last thing you need is for your purge to leave behind any post inflammation hyper pigmentation.
active active ingredients breakouts patch test pimples purge

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