Have you ever tried a new skincare product, only to discover that it makes your skin flare up with pimples? This could be one of two things. Your skin is either purging VS experiencing breakouts.

What is Purging

When your skin is adjusting to the new product, and persevering with the product will eventually make your skin better. In fact, the sudden crop of pimples means that it’s working as intended.

What is Skin Breaking Out

When your skin is breaking out because it’s sensitive to something in the product. It could be clogging your pores, or causing an allergy, or just plain old irritation. Continuing with the product will just make the situation worse.

If your skin is purging, you need to keep going.

If your skin is reacting, you need to stop using the product.

How do you tell the difference? Here’s the lowdown:

What Causes Purging

To understand the difference between purging and plain old breakouts, we need to understand how they happen.

How a Pimple Forms

Firstly, we need to look at how a pimple forms. A pore becomes clogged. Usually by dead skin cells that don’t detach and get to the surface properly. Then, forms what’s called a microcomedone.

Microcomedones aren’t visible at the surface of the skin. Sometimes they’ll develop into a whitehead, blackhead, pimple or full-blown cyst. Sometimes they’ll go away on their own without you noticing. It can take up to 8 weeks for a microcomedone to surface.

How Purging Happens

Here’s how purging can actually work. If a product speeds up skin turnover (the rate at which skin cells are shed and replaced), then the entire cycle will be accelerated and microcomedones will turn into whiteheads, blackheads, pimples, or cysts more quickly. So, you’ll suddenly see a rush of blemishes rearing their ugly heads.

If the product is irritating (which most skin turnover-accelerating products are), some microcomedones that weren’t going to show up might join the party too, since inflammation is one of the factors causing acne. However, these microcomedones were in the skin before you started the new product, not new blockages caused by the product.

Now, remember how the microcomedone started as dead skin cells that didn’t detach and get to the surface properly? Products that increase skin turnover target this exact process to treat acne!

So as the product starts to work, less microcomedones should form, and after the initial angry-volcano stage your skin should become clearer than when you started the product.

Don’t miss: How Does Rejuvenating Set Treat Pimples?

Purging VS Breakouts

On the other hand, a reaction will occur when the product is either causing new clogged pores, or increasing irritation without an improvement in how your skin is functioning because you’re sensitive to it. New clogged pores means more blemishes overall, while irritation means inflammation, which means a larger proportion of your microcomedones are flaring up.

There’s a small chance that your skin will get used to the product over time, but most of the time you’ll just cause further damage and it’s time to find a better product.

A lot of “all-natural” companies like to claim that their products are causing purging because your skin is detoxifying from all the synthetic chemicals you’ve been using previously – this is a big fat lie. Why would your skin suddenly get angry about having less synthetic chemicals on it? (Even if synthetic chemicals were bad – which they’re not!)

Unless there’s something increasing skin turnover in the natural skincare product (e.g. fruit acids, which contain AHAs), the more likely explanation is that there’s an irritating ingredient giving your skin grief.

So is it Purging or a Plain Old Breakout

There are a few things to consider to work out if it’s purging or a reactive breakout, and therefore whether you should dump your product or persevere. A lot of the time it can be difficult to tell which it is, but hopefully these guidelines can help you narrow it down.

What Sort of Product is it

Products containing active ingredients that increase skin turnover can cause purging. Purging is a well-documented response to tretinoin, for example, although you won’t find the term “purging” used in the scientific journals (they use descriptions like “exacerbation of inflammatory lesions at the start of treatment” or “initial flare up of acne lesions (acne flaring)”).

Active ingredients and treatments that increase skin turnover include:

  • hydroxy acids (glycolic, lactic, malic, mandelic, salicylic, lactobionic acids; gluconolactone; “fruit acids”)
  • retinoids (retinol, tretinoin, adapalene, tazarotene, isotretinoin, retinyl palmitate)
  • benzoyl peroxide
  • chemical peels, lasers, microdermabrasion
  • other exfoliants (scrubs, brushes, enzyme exfoliants)

Most other products, like moisturizers and cleansers without these actives, won’t be able to cause purging and you should switch to a different product.

Read also: Do’s And Don’ts When Using Rejuvenating Set

Where are the Breakouts Occurring

If it’s purging, it should only make pre-existing microcomedones come to the surface faster, so if you’re breaking out in places where you don’t normally experience breakouts, it’s likely that the product is wrong for you. However, if it’s an irritating product, it could be making the type of acne you’re experiencing worse.

For example, an area where you used to have clogged bumps and whiteheads could start developing full-blown pimples thanks to the extra inflammation.

How Long is The Purge

Purging should only last for about a month, since that’s the length of time it take for your skin to completely renew itself. If your skin isn’t getting better after around 6-8 weeks with the new product, ditch it.

Also read: Rosmar Kagayaku Rejuvenating Kit

How Can I Reduce the Severity of a Purge

If you’re about to start a new product with an ingredient that can cause purging and you want to limit the severity of a purge, there’s some evidence that introducing the new product slowly can help. This means starting at a lower concentration, starting at a smaller amount, using it less frequently, or washing it off after a few minutes before gradually increasing to the recommended usage.

Helping your skin function at its best will also reduce irritation and speed recovery: ensuring that your skin stays hydrated with the use of humectant moisturizers and moisturizers in general, using a gentle cleansing routine, using anti-irritant or anti-inflammatory products and protecting your skin from the sun.

Have any question or inquiry, please comment below.

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  1. Hey have been using brilliant hydroquinone rejuvinating for 1 week and have experience redness , itchy and pimples should i stop

  2. Good day!
    I have been fairyskin derma for 2weeks now and so far konting peeling na lang and kitang kita na yung effect. Pwede ko na ba i.stop ang paggamit neto then switch to my maintenance na milder which is Dr. Sensitive?
    Thank you po.

  3. Hello i would like to ask if it is safe using peeling mask to remove blackheads or whiteheads while on the process of using rejuvinating set? Because it’s been a week i’ve been using sy glow rejuv set and yeah like u said earlier its normal to have purging. But my black heads and white heads also are coming out and i want to remove them. So is it safe to use peeling mask?

  4. hi, I’m currently using Calmglow this is my 4th day I feel like my face skin is rough and itchy. Is this normal?

  5. hi I use south girl reju its my 1st week using it and I experience pimple breakouts should I stop using it or continue ? pls help me

  6. Hello I’m using skin perfection rejuvenating set in 1 weeks and 4days then it itchy and grow so many pimples what should I do?

  7. I’m currently using Skin Sensation’s rejuv set. It’s my 6th night. My routine is
    6 am : Kojic-toner-sunblock
    10am: Kojic soap
    12nn: Bathing (Kojic soap in face)
    4pm: Kojic Soap
    8pm: Kojic-toner-Rejuv cream.

    Mali po ba na palagi akong naghihilamos gamit yung Kojic? Sobrang hapdi din po kasi. And pag mahapdi, hindi ko na kaya yung sobrang tagal. 20 seconds palang, nagbabanlaw na ako ng face. Is it okay?

  8. Hi, Im using ryx clearbomb as my rejuv set for 3 days now. Tiny red bumps like rashes appeared on my face, but it isn’t itchy nor painful. Should I continue using the product?

      1. Hi. I’ve been using ryx clearbomb for at least 6 days now. In the first 3-4 days my face starts to peel and my face get tighten it is hard to open my mouth because its causing me pain and also some part of my face becomes dark. This is my first time to use a skin care product. How long should I wait to stop using the product? or should I continue applying or should I stop now to prevent damaging my skin? I am worried that my skin will not go back to normal. Thank you.

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