Purging according to the dictionary meaning is to physically remove or expel (something) completely.
In skincare, purging refers to a temporary acne flare-up that occurs when introducing a new product to your routine or experiencing some other change—like getting a facial (L’oreal).
“Skin purging occurs whenever you introduce active acne products (products with exfoliating ability) to your skin.”
Why does skin purging occur?
When used for the first time, ingredients that promote cell turnover such as retinoids, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid, prompt cells to turnover – a process that speeds up new cell formation. As these new cells come to the surface, they may bring up pimples from clogged pores that have been lurking underneath the surface of your skin, hence the angry breakout.
What to expect?
Purging will most likely look like a normal breakout, remember our initial definition of purging which is to completely remove or expel something ( in this case acne) from the skin.
it’s important to note that the acne that is observed on the skin surface has its roots lower in the skin. Therefore, purging, will cause upcoming acne, within the lower layers of the skin to quickly get to the surface. in essence the actives help to speed up the acne cycle. Initially, this will look like it is causing the acne to increase , however in essence, this simply means speeding up the rate of maturation of the acne, so that the healing process can begin.
This process of purging is a bit like, popping out a finite amount of balls through an orifice. Without the purging process, the rate of expulsion of the balls is slower, compared to during the purging process. The purging process accelerates the rate of expulsion of the balls, this means that there will be a higher frequency of balls popping out through the orifice per time compared to pre purging period and a much shorter time for total expulsion of all the balls (the balls in this instance represent acne in lower layers of the skin).
“In conclusion, when you are purging from using acne products, it does seem to get worse, before getting better.”
How to differentiate purging from normal acne breakouts
1. Purging will most likely occur when you are using exfoliating actives or strong acne products
2. Purging mostly occurs within the first few weeks of using these types of products, and would usually start getting better around the4th and 6th week
3. During purging, the breakouts would most likely occur in areas where you usually have acne, not new parts of your face with no acne history.
So, what do you do when you are experiencing purging?
- Be patient, give you skin the time to do what it needs to do.
- Be gentle and avoid scrubbing or using any harsh or abrasive ingredients on the skin.
- Continue with your routine as prescribed and do not deter.