Skin Purging: Why, When & For How Long?

Skin purging can be a confusing process that many don’t know much about. When starting a new skincare product, how can you tell if you’re having a reaction or simply in the beginning stages of a purge? For those with acne-prone skin, a purge happens when acne-treating ingredients increase exfoliation and skin turnover. This process is only temporary and will improve as you continue to regularly apply your products. Below we share tips for recognizing a purge, understanding how long it can last and staying the course to see results.

Starting new skincare

When starting a new skincare routine, it can be common to sometimes see more pimples arise than you had before. What does that mean? Is your skin not tolerating the product? Or, could it actually be that your skin is going through a purge? Unbeknownst to most, skin purging is actually quite common and can happen when a new product is introduced into a daily skincare regimen.

What causes skin purging?

Introducing your skin to new products can cause increased cellular turnover in the epidermis, which is the top layer of your skin. This can bring pre-existing microcomedones that are filled with dead skin and oil to the surface. That process can lead to breakouts, including blackheads, whiteheads and even cystic acne.

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Purging vs. worsening of breakouts

It can be hard for the skincare novice to discern between purging and worsening of breakouts. Most might even say they’re the same thing, right? Wrong! A great way to tell the difference between the two is to map out where the breakouts are happening. If they’re in the same spots you’ve had patterns of breakouts, then it’s likely a purge. However, if you’re seeing breakouts in new areas of the face, that can mean your acne is actually worsening and it’s time to consult with a board-certified dermatologist to determine what products are best for your skin and how you should be using them.

One important thing to also note is that a new product can sometimes cause contact dermatitis -- essentially an allergic reaction. If you’re experiencing symptoms that look and feel different than your typical breakouts, like redness, itching or swelling, you should stop the new product and reach out to a doctor for professional advice.

How long does a purge last?

The good news is a purge typically passes more quickly than a traditional breakout. The reason being, your skin is already beginning to turn over -- a process that generally takes 28 days. A good timeline we recommend for customers starting the Acne Skincare Kit, is to give yourself 4 - 6 weeks to see much clearer skin during a purge. That may seem difficult in the moment, but for long term results, it is definitely worth the wait!

How to avoid skin purging?

If only it were that easy. For some, a skin purge may run its full course, and for others, they may not experience one at all. A good precaution to take, however, to potentially mitigate the effects of a full purge is to ease into a new routine. Begin by trying the product a few times a week and gradually work your way up to daily use once you see your skin is tolerating the new product. Another helpful tip is to avoid any harsh scrubs or peels during this time. Those will only irritate your breakouts and lead to more acne.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.