Blair Hayes, PA-C | August 2022
Acne Purging vs Breakouts: How to Tell the Difference
Embarking on a new skincare journey can be exciting yet challenging, especially when it seems like your skin is rebelling against the very products meant to improve it. If you've recently started a new skincare product and noticed an increase in breakouts, you might be wondering if you're on the right track. Fear not, for what you're experiencing might just be a temporary phenomenon known as purging.
Understanding The Difference: Breakouts vs. Purging
When it comes to skincare, not all breakouts are created equal. It's crucial to differentiate between regular acne breakouts and the process of purging, which occurs after introducing certain active ingredients to your routine.
Acne breakouts occur when your pores become clogged with excess oil, dead skin cells, and bacteria. These blemishes can take the form of whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules, or even cysts. Acne breakouts are a result of existing factors within your skin and are not influenced by new products.
Purging, on the other hand, happens when you introduce a new skincare product that accelerates your skin's cell turnover rate. Ingredients like retinoids, exfoliating acids (aka Tonic!), and some treatments can trigger purging. This process involves bringing underlying impurities to the surface more rapidly, leading to an initial increase in breakouts. However, these breakouts are temporary and should clear up as your skin adjusts to the new product.
Why Does Purging Occur?
It's frustrating - I completely get it! So why does it happen? When you introduce a product that promotes cell turnover, your skin goes through a renewal process. This increased turnover can cause clogs and trapped impurities to rise to the surface more quickly than usual. While this might initially result in an influx of breakouts, it's actually a positive sign that your skin is shedding old layers and making way for healthier, clearer skin underneath!
How Long Does Purging Last?
Purging typically lasts anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks, depending on your skin's individual response and the specific product you're using, however could last up to 12 weeks if you are using the product less frequently. This "purging" period allows your skin to fully adjust to the new ingredients and settle into its improved state. It's important to note that during this time, it might seem like your skin is getting worse before it gets better, but hang in there – the end results are well worth it!
Navigating The Purging Phase
1. Be Patient
Understanding that purging is a temporary phase (and that the results are worth it!) can help you stay patient and committed to your new skincare routine.
2. Maintain Consistency
Consistency is key when introducing new products. Stick to the recommended usage and application frequency to help your skin adapt more smoothly.
3. Hydration is Essential
Keep your skin hydrated, as active ingredients can often lead to skin dryness. A good moisturizer can help balance your skin's hydration levels and keep your skin barrier intact.
4. Sun Protection
Since your skin might be more sensitive during this period, protecting it from the sun's harmful rays with sunscreen is vital!
The Bright Side To Purging!
As daunting as the purging phase may be, it's important to remember that it's a stepping stone toward achieving your skincare goals. The initial breakouts are a testament to the active ingredients' effectiveness in revealing healthier, clearer skin. Once your skin has purged the impurities, you're likely to notice a significant improvement in texture, tone, and overall complexion.
In the pursuit of the radiant and flawless skin we are wanting, it's crucial to understand the difference between normal acne breakouts and the temporary purging phase that occurs after introducing certain active ingredients. By staying patient, maintaining consistency, and embracing the journey, you'll emerge with the clear, bright skin you've been longing for. So, if you find yourself in the midst of a purging episode, remember that the road to skincare success is paved with a few initial bumps – but it will be SO worth it once your skin adapts!