What is skin purging and how is it different from a skin breakout

We use a lot of skin care products in our day-to-day life in the hope to experience benefits. But to create a skincare routine that you can use over time to resolve your skin problems, you need to have a basic understanding of the products available as well as some trial and error. And some of these experiments can also lead to a condition called skin purging.

While trying a new product is exciting, you should be aware that not all ingredients will suit your skin. Also, you can’t just simply apply a new moisturizer and expect your skin to become miraculously better and glowing. In fact, your skin may get worse before it improves when you add something new to your skin care routine – whether it’s a face serum or a simple moisturizer.

What is skin purging?

Popular dermatologist Dr Jaishree Sharad explained this phenomenon via an informative Instagram post.

“When you use ingredients such as retinoids, alpha hydroxy acids, beta hydroxy acids which cause chemical exfoliation, it leads to a rapid cell turnover rate. The skin has this mechanism of throwing out cells and oil onto the surface of the skin which is why you see more blackheads, whiteheads and papules. That is called purging.”

skin purging can cause blackheads
Skin purging can lead to blackheads. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

It’s a very normal mechanism, as per the expert, and it shouldn’t scare you into discontinue using the products.

“Do not stop them. In about 4 to 6 weeks, the purging stops and your skin is back to normal. Just make sure you use a good moisturizer as well. If you react similarly and develop blackheads, whiteheads after using ingredients like naicinamide, vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and alpha lipoic acid, that do not cause purging, that’s a reaction and you need to stop those ingredients,” warns Dr Sharad.

Skin purging may look different on different skin types. Sometimes, dead skin cells come to the surface and cause dry and peeling skin or it can simply get red.

How to know if it is skin purging or an acne breadown?

As skin purging and acne breakdown are quite similar, it becomes difficult for us to understand if we’re going through acne breakdown or skin purging. Acne breakdown can be worse at times. Unfortunately, you won’t get to know immediately if a product is simply not working or is it on the way of improvement as skin care products take time to work.

Acne breakout usually occurs due to stress, eating certain food, an allergic reaction or irritation. On the other hand, skin purging happens due to some new product added to the skin care routine which causes rapid cell turnover.

Skin purging doesn’t last for more than four to six months whereas acne breakdown can even last for months. Skin purging is normal and can be cured but if you’re going through some acne breakdown you have to be more careful and visit a dermatologist.

Watch Dr Jaishree Sharad’s reel on skin purging!

How to deal with skin purging?

1. Don’t discontinue using that product:

You don’t need to discontinue using product which is causing skin purging. This is because it shows that the ingredients of that particular product is working on your skin and the active ingredients are actually removing all the impurities from your skin. Skin purging will stop by 4 to 6 weeks.

2. Wash your face twice a day:

Washing your face and applying moisturizer continuously will keep your skin hydrated. It helps to deal with skin purging.

3. Avoid trying home remedies:

Refrain using any home treatment or remedy on your face while your skin is purging. Even the hydrating ones are to be avoided at this time because they could exacerbate skin sensitivity and cause uncomfortable rashes.

Wash your face
Wash your face twice a day. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

4. Avoid using harsh products:

It’s important to realize that your skin care product that you’re using is already exfoliating your skin to get rid of dead skin cells and increase cell turnover. So, using any additional hard exfoliation like scrubs or alcohol-based toners can be irritating for the skin.

5. Wash your pillowcase more often:

A dirty cotton pillowcase can irritate the purging skin. So it’s better to keep the pillowcase clean and follow basic skincare hygiene.

6. Talk to a dermatologist:

If you feel that the effects of purging aren’t stopping and is getting worse, it’s recommended to visit a specialist.

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