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What Is Skin Purging? Is Your Skin Taking Out The Trash?

What is skin purging? We’re going to outline everything you need to know about skin purging: what to do, and when to expect it to stop.

Read on

The words “skin purging” don’t exactly elicit the most idyllic images. If you’re acne-prone and those two words have scared you away from a product before -- you’re not alone. However, skin purging is not as scary as it sounds. It’s actually a good indicator that a product is working.

We know that most people don’t start a new skincare treatment expecting to “take two steps back” -- but it might get worse before it gets really good. We’re going to outline everything you need to know about skin purging: what to do, and when to expect it to stop.

What causes skin purging?

Products that increase the skin cell turnover rate can temporarily cause mild forms of acne or skin purging. Increased skin cell turnover comes with a lot of benefits, but initially, it “empties out” your pores and may cause an influx of new pimples.

However, the pimples that might arise from skin purging are just the skin’s way of dealing with a pre-existing pore blockage. These new pimples are coming from your skin’s backlog.   Remember though, the benefits of rapid skin cell turnover can actually lessen the occurrences of blemishes and acne over the long run. You’re playing the long game here.

Ingredients that cause skin purging

Ingredients that can push clogged pores to the surface are often called exfoliating acids or retinoids. If you’ve just started treatment with the following ingredients, you might experience varying levels of “skin purging”.

Active ingredients that might cause skin purging:

  • Salicylic acid
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Chemical peels
  • Hydroxy acids (AHA and BHA)
  • Vitamin C
  • Retinol
  • Retinoids

Relax, it may be a good sign

While getting a new surge of zits may not be what you’d expect from a new skincare product, it’s actually an indicator the product is working well for you. You can think of this “purging moment” as your skin cells “taking out the trash”. With that, your pores will soon be clearer. You didn’t want to walk around with gunk in your pores anyway, right?

How long does skin purging last?

Purging duration varies from person to person. Some people don’t experience much of a purge, while others deal with it for up to 6 weeks.

Generally, if you’re dealing with signs of a skin purge, this skin temper tantrum is likely to last between 2 to 6 weeks.

Is it a purge or a breakout?

How do you tell if you’re having a bad reaction or if you’re just purging? Ways to tell your skin is purging:

  1. You’ve recently started using an exfoliating acid or retinoids, like the ones listed above.
  2. Pimples are happening in areas you normally get blemishes. If it’s occurring in unusual areas, that might be a breakout.
  3. Purge pimples generally clear faster than breakouts. If a pimple sticks around for 8 -10 days, it might be a breakout.

Skin purging helps in the treatment of acne

As we now know, retinoids can cause a skin purge, and if you’re starting an acne treatment it’s sort of the last thing you’d want. However, skin purging is actually a blessing in disguise for the acne-prone. Products like tretinoin can help clear out clogged pores and reduce future breakouts.

If you’re worried about acne and how to survive the skin purging blues, is here to help. Our tretinoin-containing acne treatment balances prescription acne medications and skin-soothing compounds to help mitigate purging side effects.

To see if our acne treatment is right for you, complete our free questionnaire-based online doctor's consultation.

If our doctors find you’re a good candidate for our acne-clearing prescription formula, we’ll ship it right to your doorstep.  

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