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Skin Purging: Meaning, Causes & Treatment Options

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New pimples popping up after you used a new product you had high hopes for? It’s possible you’re suffering from purging skin. Unlike what it may seem, purging isn’t really a bad thing.

Skin purging is your skin’s response to any active ingredient which may cause the rate of cell turnover to increase. It’s common to experience purging after using ingredients like AHAs, BHAs or Retinol which can exfoliate the skin.

Although it may look deceivingly similar to certain types of acne, purging has certain other tells. Skin purging may appear as small pimples in a cluster, which may be painful to touch. Skin may even peel or flake as a result of purging from a new ingredient.

The average duration of cell turnover is said to be 28 days, this means that the skin naturally sheds dead skin cells to bring newer cells to the surface every 28 days. Certain ingredients like Glycolic Acid, Retinol or Vitamin C can cause an increase in the rate of cell turnover. Basically, these ingredients cause the skin cells to shed faster resulting in any congestion to come at surface level faster which manifests as purging skin. Skin purging is a sign that your product is working in clearing your skin from deep within.

  • AHAsAHAs like Glycolic Acid, Mandelic Acid, Lactic Acid, Tartaric Acid or Malic Acid are water-soluble acids which work by exfoliating the dead skin cells from the top most layer of the skin. Avoid using AHAs at high concentrations initially.
  • BHAs- BHAs are oil-soluble acids which go deep into the pores and work by removing any sebum, bacteria or dead skin cells which may be clogging the pores. 
  • Retinol- Retinol is an anti-aging ingredient that is a common culprit for skin purging. Retinol can cause an increase in the rate of cell turnover. The best way to add Retinol in your routine is by starting at a low concentration and not using it more than thrice a week. 
  • Vitamin C- Vitamin C is a popular brightening ingredient which can stimulate the production of collagen in the skin and help diminish scars. Since Vitamin C is a gentle exfoliant, using it at higher concentrations may cause purging for some people.

 

 

Purging

Breakout


  • It is caused as a reaction to certain skincare ingredients.

  • It appears right after using a new ingredient which can increase cell turnover rate.

  • It usually appears in areas that you usually break out. 
  • It resolves quicker than breakout.


  • It usually appears as a small cluster of pimples.


  • Purging does not generally leave a mark or a blemish once it’s healed.



  • It can have many causes, the most common ones being bacteria and clogged pores.
  • It can occur any time, irrespective of whether a new product is used or not.

  • It can appear in new places, even where you usually don’t break out.
  • It takes longer to disappear, may take up to 8-10 days and sometimes even weeks to go away on its own.
  • Breakouts can have acne of many types such as blackheads, whiteheads, papules, pustules amongst others.
  • Breakouts can often leave marks after healing.

Purging appears immediately after you introduce any new skincare ingredient which can cause purging in your routine. Skin purging may last for about 4-6 weeks. It resolves once your skin gets accustomed to the new ingredient. If your skin seems to be purging beyond 6 weeks, it’s possible you may not be dealing with a purge at all and it’s advisable to consult a dermatologist in such a situation.

  • As always, using a good moisturiser is extremely important regardless of whether or not your skin’s purging. Not moisturising properly can cause your skin to overcompensate by triggering excess sebum production which can make your purging worse. 
  • Curate a soothing and gentle skincare routine for purging skin. Purging is a sign that the ingredient is working in clearing your skin out deeply. So use mild, barrier repairing and soothing ingredients to heal your skin faster.
  • Use sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 without fail every day to prevent your already vulnerable skin from suffering more.
  • Consider using a clay mask to clear out impurities and soothe your purging skin.
  • Reduce the frequency of using the ingredient which resulted in skin purging. This can ensure your skin gets familiarized with the ingredient faster with reduced risk of irritation.
  • Always incorporate any new ingredient in your skincare routine slowly. Start by patch testing and gradually increase the frequency of use. This gives your skin time to adjust to any new ingredients and develop tolerance for the same.
  • Keep your prior experiences in mind while purchasing any new skincare product. Certain ingredients may be irritating for some people, hence it’s best to avoid them in your products.
  • Look for alternatives to ingredients that may cause purging. For example, use a Lactic Acid or Mandelic Acid which are gentler alternatives to Glycolic Acid.
  • Consider using soothing ingredients to calm your irritated skin. You can opt for ingredients like Hyaluronic acid, Aloe Vera and ceramides.
  • Avoid picking any pimples or touching your purging skin to prevent any unnecessary transfer of bacteria to the skin. Doing so can cause your pimples to aggravate and it won’t be long before you have a full-fledged breakout to deal with. It may also result in scarring which is something we definitely want to avoid.
  • Even though you may want to ditch your new product at the first sight of any pimple, it’s important to stick to your routine and continue using the product until your purge clears up. This is when your skin’s accustomed to the new ingredient and you can start expecting visible results soon.
  • Avoid using any harsh ingredients or too many actives on your purging skin to prevent any further irritation.
  • It’s a bad idea to incorporate multiple skincare ingredients at once, instead let your skin familiarise with one particular ingredient at a time. Who doesn’t want to enjoy the benefits of different ingredients? To avoid any irritation, it’s best to take your time and slowly add new ingredients to the mix.

 

  • Deconstruct Hydrating serum with 2 % Hyaluronic Acid and 1% Niacinamide brings to you a unique product which consists of three different molecular weights of Hyaluronic Acid, which help provide deep hydration.  It’s combined with the benefits of Niacinamide.
  • Deconstruct Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Face Wash with 0.5% Amino Acids + 0.1% Hyaluronic acid hydrates your skin while washing away any impurities from the skin. It’s gentle on the skin and prevents it from drying out while washing.

Skin purging may be deterring and you may want to quit using any new products which may have caused the purge. It’s essential to continue with your regimen and allow your skin to get accustomed with new ingredients. Skin purging is a sign that your product is working in bringing any clogged pores to the surface. Just remember that clearer skin is waiting for you on the other side of purging, so make sure you stick with your routine and allow the ingredient to work properly.

  • Is it possible to develop retinol purge?

Since retinol is an exfoliating ingredient and can increase the rate of cell turnover, it’s possible for your skin to purge after using retinol. 

  • How long does it take for skin purging to clear up?

Purging may take as long as six weeks to clear up, although it’s much faster for most people. In case your skin doesn’t clear up even after six weeks, it’s likely your skin isn’t purging and you should consider consulting a dermatologist.

  • Can Niacinamide cause purging?

No, it’s unusual for Niacinamide to cause skin purging. Niacinamide doesn’t exfoliate or affect your skin in a way that can trigger purging. So, in case you experience any irritation while using Niacinamide, it may be possible that you’re using the wrong product or it may just not be for your skin.

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