Uh-oh. You excitedly start using a promising product, but you see your skin condition worsen by the day. It’s now covered in red pimples and active acne, when it was relatively clear before. Should you press the panic button and quit using the product? We say not yet, ‘cause you might just be purging.
What is purging?
Purging occurs when you introduce a new product into your routine. When there’s a purge, the entire acne formation process is accelerated. Microcomedones, which are not visible to the naked eye, transforms into whiteheads/blackheads/pimples more quickly, and so you see a flood of them appearing all at once. After a few weeks, your skin should clear up and be in a better condition than before. It’s like waking up to a sunny day after heavy rains. It’s completely different from a reaction, which is when your skin is straight-up not compatible with something in the product.
How do you know if it’s purging or a reaction?
Thankfully, there are ways to tell if it’s purging or a reaction.
Purging is only applicable to products that speed up cellular turnover, such as those with vitamin C, AHA, and BHA. If you’re seeing new blemishes pop up because of a new cleanser or a moisturizer that does not contain actives, then it’s probably not purging. In that case, accept the loss and move on. Don’t force it if it ain’t for ya, girl!
Are you breaking out in places that are usually smooth? It’s probably NOT purging, since purging should only cause “baby” acne to grow up faster. ALTHOUGH it is possible to breakout in new areas of your face during the purging process.
How long have you been breaking out? If it’s purging, your skin condition should improve after 6-8 weeks. If you’ve been breaking out forever, then it’s most likely that your skin is reacting to the product, in which case you should cease use of the product immediately.