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What is Skin Purging & How to Tell If Your Skin Is Purging or Breaking Out?

3 min read
What is Skin Purging & How to Tell If Your Skin Is Purging or Breaking Out?

What Is Purging Skin (Acne Purging)?

Skin purging, in simple terms, refers to the process of shedding dead cells, bacteria, oil, and debris that’s underneath the surface of your skin. The meaning of skin purging is the skin’s reaction to an active ingredient that is causing increased skin cell turnover. Skin purging or acne purging is a temporary flare-up of acne that occurs when you introduce a new product to your skincare routine.

Is the Purge Real?

If you wish to know whether purging skin is for real, then the answer is yes. Skin purging occurs if you have acne-prone skin. Certain skincare products cause acne flare-ups first before they make it better. You may experience breakouts at first due to the purging of the skin. But this gets better with time, and you may have clearer and better skin after this.

What Does Skin Purging Look Like?

You may not be able to tell the difference between purging vs breakout. When your skin starts purging, it is bound to look like usual breakouts. You may have two types of acne flare-ups: papules and pustules. The papules make your skin feel like sandpaper, whereas the pus-filled pimples or pustules are typically whiteheads with a yellow or white centre.

What Causes Skin Purging?

Skin purging does not mean manually squeezing out all the yellow gunk from pimples. Purging of the skin occurs naturally when you start using new skincare products containing chemical exfoliants like alpha-hydroxy acids, beta-hydroxy acids, and retinoids.

These exfoliants speed up the rate of skin cell turnover in your body. Cell turnover is the rate at which your body sheds dead skin cells to replace them with newer ones.

Skin purging is a blessing in disguise as it helps remove all the dirt and gunk from the deeper layers of your skin. The purging helps push out all the sebum, dirt, and bacteria out of your pores.

As frustrating and annoying as skin purging can be, it is not always due to a wrong product. Acne purging does not cause the formation of new pimples but rather just speeds up the formation of the underlying pimples. This is why you end up having acne purging in areas where you are prone to breakouts.

What to Do When Your Skin Is Purging?

When your skin starts purging, the first and the best thing you can do is visit a dermatologist or simply wait it out. Any kind of breakouts requires some tender, loving care (TLC) to get better. So, when your skin is purging, be gentle with your skin and wash your face twice daily. Avoid scrubbing your skin, and keep your hands away from your face.

Also, do not use too much make-up when you have acne purging. Using a mild colour corrector to hide the blemishes and cover up those painful flare-ups is all right.

Can You Prevent Skin Purging?

Yes, you can prevent skin purging if you follow these tips:

  • Use only one new skincare product at a time.
  • Always do a patch test first and try the product on a small area of your skin. Your inner forearm is the best part to try. Wait for 24-48 hours to ensure your skin has not reacted to it.
  • Use a lesser amount than prescribed for use.
  • Keep a proper, long gap between the two applications. Try not to use it every second or third day.

Despite trying these above tips, if you still experience purging of your skin, then do not lose hope. Take it slow and ease into the product’s use.

Skin Purging Vs Breakouts

Do you want to learn the difference between skin purging and breakouts? Well, for starters, you may not immediately realise whether a product is working for you or not. It is possible that your skin is on its way to improvement and there isn’t any skin purging happening.  

Here are the key characteristics of skin purging vs breakout:

Purging of skin: This presents in a defined area where you experience breakouts frequently. Skin purging usually clears up faster than your regular pimples or breakouts.

Breakouts: These present in new areas where you usually don’t get pimples. The timeline of each breakout from development to healing differs.

Common Forms of Acne During a Skin Purge

When your skin flares up due to a new skincare product, you’re bound to notice a pattern in your acne breakouts. You develop any one of the following four types of acne during skin purging:

  • Pustules
  • Whiteheads
  • Blackheads
  • Cysts






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