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The Ultimate Guide On Skin Purging

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Have you ever experienced a sudden outbreak with the usage of a new skincare product? Before your mind starts reeling that you’ve unwittingly worsened your skin issues, there’s actually something called skin purging.

What is skin purging?

Skin purging is a process where a new skincare product encourages pimple formation to speed up, causing those clogged pores lurking under the skin surface (known as microcomedones) to rush to the surface, causing one gigantic breakout that throws you into a panic. In short, skin purging is the process of the new skincare product getting your dormant pimples to ‘mature’ faster.

What causes skin purging?

Skin purging happens when you start to use new skincare products with active ingredients that increases skin cell turnover – such as glycolic acid (AHA), salicylic acid (BHA), and retinoid. The increased cell turnover is thought to give rise to skin purging which brings underlying microcomedones to the surface. These then manifests as blackheads, whiteheads, pimples or cysts. Don’t worry, this just means that your new skincare product is working to get the gunk out from your skin!

However, how do you distinguish between having a breakout following the use of a new skincare product to be a case of skin purging, and not that new product clogging your pores or irritating your skin?

How long does skin purging last?

Purging should only last for about 5 to 6 weeks. That’s the length of time it takes for your skin to completely renew itself. If your skin isn’t getting better after 6 to 8 weeks, your skin may be having a negative reaction to the new products.

Skin purging vs. Breakouts – How do you differentiate them?

While it may not always be straightforward to distinguish between the two, here are some guidelines which can help you:

  1. A purge usually happens in areas where you usually get pimples.
  2. If the breakout occurs in new areas, that’s more likely to be your skin’s adverse reaction to the new skincare product.
  3. If you’re using a new product that doesn’t contain active ingredients which increases skin cell turnover, the breakout is less likely to be skin purging. That’s because active ingredients in skincare products will encourage skin cell turnover and cause underlying microcomedones to rise to the surface and trigger a breakout.
    • Active ingredients which could increase skin cell turnover include:
      • Glycolic acid (AHA)
      • Salicylic acid (BHA)
      • Retinoids
      • Vitamin C
      • Benzoyl peroxide
  4. If a pimple is part of a skin purging, its life cycle will be much faster than a normal pimple or one that’s caused by a reaction to skincare products. If the breakout lasts longer than 4 to 6 weeks upon using the new skincare product, it probably isn’t part of a skin purge and may signal a bigger skin issue.

What are the best ways to minimize the severity of skin purging?

If every sign points to you experiencing a skin purge when using a new skincare product, is there anything you can do to make the breakouts less severe? Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do except wait out patiently. Besides waiting for the purging episode to blow over, the following tips could also help you minimize the severity of the purging breakout.

– Remember to protect and care for your pimples by not probing them with your itchy fingers or using harsh pimple creams or scrubs. Harsh skincare products would not be able to get rid of those pesky spots faster.

– When using a new skincare product, especially those with active ingredients which you’ve never used before, introduce it slowly in the beginning to minimize the effect of skin purging. You can start with a small amount or use the new skincare product less frequently in the beginning, before ramping up its frequency of use.

– To speed up recovery from the purge, help your skin stay in its best form by keeping it hydrated. It’s advisable to use gentle moisturizers and cleansers.

– Avoid exposing your skin to the sun when you’re having a purging episode, and always remember to use a sunscreen!

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