Skin Purging Vs. Breaking Out: What To Look Out For

Black woman with acne. Image from

When we experience skin problems, we often rely on skincare products to help deal with the issue. However, there are no certain results when it comes to skincare and what may work for one person may end up causing more problems for another. Similarly, it’s easy to confuse skin purging with a bad reaction to a product.

Skin purging has very similar symptoms to breaking out and it’s often mistaken as a bad sign. However, it couldn’t be further from the truth. It occurs when your skin is trying to adjust to a new product and the appearance of pimples means it’s working. Skin purging is mainly caused by products that increase the rate at which skin cells replace themselves such as retinoids. Ironically, the most effective acne treatments cause more acne at the beginning. So yes, sometimes, pimples are a good thing. Having known that, there’s still the issue of telling the difference between skin purging and breaking out. Here are some things you can look out for to know whether your skin is purging.

  1. Tenderness

One of the differences is how it feels. We’ve all have a pimple and we know that it’s usually painful and tender especially when it starts to break out. For purging, you’ll only notice bumps around your face without any pain.  This is because acne pimples are caused by dirt and oil buildup and the skin is trying to get rid of it which causes swelling and inflammation. Pimples from skin purging are simply a reaction to a product hence there’s no irritation.

  1. Location

Normally, acne props up at random places on the face. For skin purging, it occurs in places that you get frequent breakouts. Therefore, when you see pimples around your acne-prone areas after trying out a new skincare product, you shouldn’t be alarmed. This happens because the product is working to get rid of dead skin cells. As such, it targets problem areas around the skin that can cause a breakout.

Black woman with acne. Image from
  1. Duration

Another difference is the duration the pimple lasts. Purging clears up faster than breaking out as the pimple’s lifespan is much shorter than that of a normal pimple. The skin takes about 28 days to create completely new cells. Therefore, if a breakout lasts longer than 4 to 6 weeks, it’s most likely not a result of your skin purging.

How To Deal With Skin Purging

There’s nothing much you can do when your skin starts to purge but wait for the episode to clear. However, you can try to minimize the severity by following these tips:

  • Avoid using harsh products. While using a product that causes skin purging, you should avoid any other products that might irritate the skin. Products like exfoliators and toners tend to be a bit harsh and can cause worsen a breakout.
  • Introduce the product slowly. Using the product frequently too soon may cause shock leading to a severe breakout. When you notice that you’re breaking out, try to use the product less frequently then increase the frequency over time.
  • Choose the right cleanser. Cleansers are essential in cleaning the pores thus preventing breakouts. However, some cleansers can be drying which may cause your skin to flare up. if you’re already dealing with skin purging, switch to a milder cleanser. Skincare: Tips On How To Repair Your Skin Barrier

Wearing masks has come with its own challenges, and the biggest skin issue is how it causes breakouts in the areas covered by the mask. Here is How To Avoid Breakouts And Acne From Wearing A Face Mask

Check out How To Take Care Of Acne-Prone Skin and Skincare: How To Deal With Back Acne

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I am a creative writer and blogger with interests in lifestyle and fashion. I have previously worked in the scriptwriting industry and I am looking forward to new experiences. My biggest fear is a wearing the wrong shade of foundation