Is it a purge or a breakout? Here are three simple ways to tell the difference!
Similar to the blisters that appear when you start breaking into a new pair of shoes, “purging” is the adjustment period when your skin starts acting up after using a new product. It’s a good thing (yes, really!) because once your pores have been cleared out, the purging will stop and your skin will be smoother than ever before. This is completely different from a breakout, when your skin is actually irritated and reacting negatively to a new product.
If you’re not sure if the new pimples on your face is caused by the “good” purging process or the “bad” reactive breakout, here are three ways to find out:
Related article: The Different Types of Acne and How to Treat Them
1. What is in the new product you have been using?
Purging happens when active ingredients in skin care products boost the skin’s cell turnover rate, and clogged pores underneath your skin starts to rise to the surface. In essence, it’s helping kick out all the nasty dirt, debris, dead skin cells or sebum buildup that have been hiding in your skin. Some products that can lead to purging are:
- Glycolic acid, Lactic Acid, Mandelic Acid (AHA)
- Salicylic acid (BHA)
- Acne medications such as Benzoyl Peroxide
- Vitamin C
However, if you’re using a product that doesn’t help speed up the skin’s turnover rate, like a basic cleanser or a moisturiser, it probably isn’t purging.
2. Where are the pimples popping up?
Keep in mind that purging usually happens in areas where you normally get pimples. So if the breakout occurs in new areas you’ve never had pimples before, there’s a high chance that your skin is just reacting badly to a new product.
3. How long has the breakout been there?
Pimples from purging normally won’t hang around for that long. So if the breakout lasts longer than 6 weeks since you started using the new skincare product, it probably isn’t part of a skin purge and may signal a bigger skin issue.
HELP!!! What do I do if my skin is breaking out?!
Once you identify the breakout as a bad breakout, you need to stop using your new product immediately. Go back to your basic skin care routine consisting of tried and true products you know and your skin loves. Look out for healing ingredients like snail, aloe, guaiazulene or propolis, which can help calm and soothe any irritation you have.
Have you experienced purging or breakouts from new products before? How did you deal with them?