Purging versus Breaking Out - Beach Beauty Bar and Acne Clinic

Purging versus Breaking Out

We have heard it before. You start a new skincare routine and then BAM, you get hit with a massive wave of acne. Is it purging or breaking out? That is the question.

Do you want clear skin?

But what you probably didn’t know is – treating your skin on a deep level will cause some upset in the form of unwanted breaking out. However, there is a difference between your skin purging and your skin breaking out. While they may look and seem the same, skin purging vs breaking out is a topic for an everlasting debate, and these are in fact two very different things.

It is important to know the difference to be able to choose the right skincare for yourself.

What is Skin Purging?

First things first, what is skin purging?

Maybe you’ve never heard of this term before. Skin purging is a good thing. It can be described as “beneficial temporary breakouts” that occur when you start using a new product or ingredient that increases the natural skin cell turnover rate. All those active products you’re applying to your face are actively speeding up the process of your turnover cycle. This helps reveal healthier skin cells, but not without first “purging” all the impurities residing underneath your skin.

After the first application you will start to see a lot of gunk quickly rising to the surface of your pores causing pimples and acne to purge from your face.

It looks different from person to person, but skin purging takes the form in mostly a mix of blackheads, whiteheads, pustules, cysts or tiny skin-colored bumps.

Why is your Skin Purging?

Skin purging seems to be common with several skincare ingredients like retinoids, hydroxy acids, benzoyl peroxide, and other chemical exfoliants. Our bodies take time to produce new skin cells and shed dead ones, ingredients like retinol and tretinoin have been shown to speed up the process and at times lead to skin purging. Exfoliants speed up the process of shedding. So while your skin has a natural cycle, exfoliants accelerate that cycle by pushing up any congestion you may have creating temporary inflammation.

Common ingredients that cause purging

  • Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs), Glycolic acid and Lactic acid
  • Salicylic acid (Beta-hydroxy acid or BHAs)
  • Retinol, Retin-A and retinoids
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • L-ascorbic acid (Acidic forms of Vitamin C)
  • Fruit acids and enzymes
  • Azelaic acid (more than 15% concentration)

What To Do If Your Skin Is Purging

When your skin is going through the purging process, it’s important to maintain a routine to stay consistent. While it might not be encouraging to see a skin purge for the first few weeks of a new routine, there are a few tips you can incorporate into your skin care routine to help your complexion make it through this transitionary period.

  1. Wash your face every morning and night to remove any debris, pollutants, makeup, and skincare residue that might clog your pores while the skin is purging.
  2. Use a mild, hydrating cleanser and avoid popping any of these pimples or touching your face excessively.
  3. Avoid using harsh chemicals or exfoliants – too much too quickly will only extend the purging process.

It’s important to see your process all the way through.

Continuing to use the product that’s causing the purging for 4 to 6 days until the skin cell turnover process has completed and the skin has gone through a full cycle of shedding to have time to release all the trapped sebum. Your skin should tolerate the product well after purging has subsided.

A Breakout VS Purging – the difference 

The rule of thumb to tell if you’re experiencing a breakout as opposed to purging is if you get new bumps in unusual places, that’s a breakout.  

When you’re experiencing a skin purge, it will typically occur where you already get breakouts. After all, that’s where the build up of clogged pores is happening under your skin. But if your blemishes are suddenly popping up on your forehead instead of your chin, it might be a reaction to your products.

The Takeaway

I’m sure skipping the purging stage altogether sounds like a better option but believe me, you’ll love the results you get if you stick it out. The sooner you start, the sooner you’ll have the skin of your dreams.

Buckle down and get after it!

Stay consistent with your clear skin journey. We believe in you. Trust the process.

Schedule your consultation today if you’re ready to get started on your path to healing.

Cheers to clear!


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