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What Is Skin Purging? (and How To Get Through It)

Jan 25, 2023

Skin Care

Skin purging is a common phenomenon that occurs when you introduce a new product into your skin care ritual. While your skin is adjusting to unfamiliar ingredients, blemishes and pimples may pop up on the surface of your skin. You may take these eruptions as a sign to stop using the product or might confuse the cause with other reasons, such as the food you’ve been consuming or hormonal acne.

However, skin purging can actually be a good thing. It may be a sign that your new skin care product might actually be working, making way for fresh new skin. Read more to find out about the differences between skin purging and breakouts, and how skin purging can be beneficial to your skin’s overall health.

Skin Purging vs. Breaking Out

Skin purging is often confused with breakouts because both have similar appearances of small blackheads or red, inflamed pimples. But there are some overarching differences between the two which will help you identify what you’re dealing with and how to approach the skin concern.

Presence of active ingredients

The key distinguisher between a breakout scenario versus a skin purge is the introduction of active ingredients into your skin care ritual. Active ingredients are key elements in skin care formulations that aim to target a specific skin concern. Most commonly, skin purges result from introducing actives that exfoliate the skin, like retinol, AHAs, and BHAs, or acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. If you haven't recently begun using products formulated with "actives," it’s more likely that you're experiencing a breakout than a skin purge.

Types of breakouts

Skin is said to renew itself approximately every 28 days, but a retinoid or acid will speed up that process, which will result in inflammatory acne during the purge. Inflammatory acne covers a wide range of breakout types including pustules, whiteheads, blackheads, and cysts.

Purges tend to appear on the areas of the face where you commonly experience breakouts. If you’re experiencing a breakout in a new area, this could be a telltale sign that it’s most likely not due to a skin purge.

How long does purging last?

Blemishes caused by skin purging heal much faster than a typical breakout. If you’ve implemented a new product into your skin care ritual and the breakouts are lasting longer than 4-6 weeks, it's likely not skin purging and may be a sign to stop using that new product.

Why Skin Purging Might be Beneficial

You may be asking yourself “How can pimples be a good thing?” The presence of pimples may be tough to look at but it's your skin’s way of healing and renewing.

Skin purging is evidence that your new skin product is actually working. The product is successful in increasing skin cell turnover rate, speeding up the process of pushing out bad bacteria from the deep layers of the skin. The breakouts caused by the skin purge are the in-between stages of dispelling the bad bacteria and uncovering bright, new skin.

How To Get Through A Skin Purge

Avoid picking

This is the golden rule in skin care. Picking at your inflammatory acne could result in permanent scarring and will ultimately delay the healing process. If you do feel the urge to touch your face, make sure your hands are clean to avoid disturbing the inflamed area with any external bacteria. Using pimple patches over the affected areas could help speed up the healing process and prevent you from coming into contact with the breakout.

Avoid drying products

Many spot treatments are known to contain drying ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. Make sure to read the ingredients list to avoid any drying ingredients, acids, or additional active ingredients that may contribute to additional inflammation and drying of the skin. Once the skin purge is complete, it may be safe to include them in your skin care routine again, but for now, your skin needs rest from these ingredients.

Load up on hydration

During a purge your skin is highly sensitive as it continues to shed itself of dead skin cells. Moisturizing your skin with lightweight moisturizers will give your skin some stability during the skin purge. Reach for your favorite moisturizer that contains no active ingredients and very minimal fragrance.

Avoid excess sunlight and use SPF

Ingredients that cause skin purges tend to leave the skin sensitive to UV rays. Since your skin is rapidly shedding itself of old skin, your pores are opening up a fresh layer of skin that is very susceptible to the harmful effects of UV rays, leading to hyperpigmentation or heightened experiences of chemical burns. Limit your exposure to sunlight and incorporate sunscreen into your skin care ritual every single day (regardless of if your skin is purging or not).

Our Product Recommendations

If you're experiencing a skin purge, remember that it's your skin’s way of clearing the old to make way for the new. The temporary discomfort of breakouts holds a purpose in the life cycle of our skin care journey.

Like we said before, going through a skin purge doesn't mean you should stop using moisturizers—that will lead you on the road to dehydrated skin which can cause an increase in oil production and cause breakouts to become even worse. During this time, we recommend reaching for a soothing, gentle moisturizer like our Moisturizing Hydra-Cream. This oil-free cream is made of Lychee Fruit, Tamarind Seed, and Moringa Leaf which work together to maintain long-lasting hydration while providing protection from environmental pollution.



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