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What Is skin purging?

Skin purging is precisely what it sounds like: your skin is clearing out dead cells, oil, and unnecessary gunk from your pores. Much like we go through purges in our life with negativity, social media, or clothes in the far depths of our closet, our skin has to do the same!! And it’s actually a good thing! It essentially looks like your face is breaking out, and you may even experience some sensitivity, redness, and slight peeling.

Understanding what your skin is doing when you end up with a face full of bothersome bumps can give you insight into achieving the smooth skin that dreams are made of. Products that actively speed up the process of the skin cell turnover cycle will help reveal healthier skin cells, but not without first “purging” all the gunk that was residing underneath your skin. This gunk includes flakes of dry skin, already present buildup, and excess sebum.

Did you know breakouts start so deep in the skin that it could be 28 days before a blemish works its way into visibility? Let’s say you find a new skincare regime that promises clear beautiful skin. You begin to use it only to find that instead of clear beautiful skin you wind up redness and breakouts. You might immediately toss the skincare products thinking it’s just not right for you.

Guess what? Skincare doesn’t cause breakouts. Read that one more time. Skincare does not cause breakouts. Even the skincare that isn't necessarily right for your skin will not cause you to break out. When you experience increased breakouts after starting a new skincare routine, you are experiencing an acne purge. The thing to remember is your skin will get better, but it most likely will need to get worse first.

Possible Causes

Ingredients that can cause this process to take place include anything that exfoliates your skin and increases cell turnover, but retinoids, which include over-the-counter retinol, prescription retinoic acid, niacinamide, and oral acne medications are the biggest culprits. Other products that contain benzoyl peroxide, lactic acid, retinyl palmitate, retinol, tazarotene, vitamin C, glycolic acid and salicylic acid also cause skin purging.

Chemical peel and laser treatments such as microdermabrasion are also known to produce a similar effect. These ingredients are known to cause skin purging because their function is to help your skin generate new cells in place of the old. Some detox masks and other facial masks can also get your skin to purge if they contain any of these ingredients.

Spot the difference!

How To Help?

Treating your skin during a purge can be tricky, the best thing that you can do is actually the least satisfying answer anyone really wants to hear—you just have to wait it out. Depending on how congested your skin is the purge could last anywhere from two to three weeks. In the meantime, here are a few tips to make the effects of a purge less irritating.

These are very similar to treating your skin during a regular breakout: Resist the urge to pick or pop any inflammation, keep your pillow case clean, and because most purge-causing ingredients lead to skin sensitivity in the sun, limit exposure and wear protection when you’re outside. 

It’s important to remember, purging is a good sign that your skincare is effective and doing the right thing. 

Try to be patient with your skin and within a month, you’ll start to be acne-free.

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