Purging: A Quick-Start Guide 💭

clairebeccaclairebecca
Sep. 14
Purging has become a buzz word in the skincare community, but what exactly is it? I often notice people misusing this word and thinking their skin is purging when it isn’t.
While purging isn’t a term you’ll find in any aesthetic or medical textbook, it’s been colloquially-coined to refer to any acne brought on with the use of a new product.
Have you ever used a new product and noticed your skin got worse before it got better? Blemishes brought on by purging are the dormant acne waiting to make its debut, encouraged to surface as the active ingredient you’re using does its job. 
Essentially, purging means your skin is responding. It will stop with time when there's no more acne to surface.
How to know if your pimples are a purge.
Purging can be different for everybody, but there are a few things to look for:
1. Make sure you’re not confusing it with hormonal acne which is usually around the jawline and corresponds with PMS. 
2. Is your pimple in a place where you don’t usually get one? This can be a sign it is purging. I personally notice when I purge that I will get pimples randomly on my cheeks. They are also more inflamed and painful than usual. 
3. Lastly, trust your intuition. If you feel that any acne you’re getting isn’t corresponding to your normal pattern and you’ve recently incorporated a new product, then purging is likely the cause.
Ingredients known to cause purging.
Any active ingredients are going to be likely culprits. They’re usually found in products like serums and topicals, but can be found in any skincare product. 
The most common ingredients are your acids: salicylic acid, glycolic, lactic, just to name a few. Retinoids are another ingredient. These can be found in over-the-counter retinol serums, and prescription grade topicals such as tretinoin (brand name Retin-A) and Adapalene (brand name Differin, now available without a prescription over the counter!).
How to treat purging.
Purging is unfortunately a natural part of acclimating your skin to a new product. It’s up to you to decide if the payoff is worth the pain. Purging can last anywhere from days to months and can vary in severity. I recommend giving your skin up to a month before deciding if you want to continue using the product causing it. 
Moisturize well both day and night with something formulated for dry, irritated, and sensitive skin, and be sure to wear your sunscreen to prevent further inflammation and scarring. 
What ingredients have caused your skin to purge the most? Let me know in the comments!
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