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A new skin product is always super exciting, the feeling of taking it home, unboxing it and using it on your skin for the first time is exhilarating! You wonder what effect it will have on your skin: will it help you with your acne, erase those dark spots and fine lines, or reduce that pigmentation perhaps? There could be many things on your mind when you start using a new product on your skin; certain anticipation and expectations for something to happen. Sometimes you may notice skin peeling or breaking, redness, or acne breakouts may start to appear after a couple of weeks, which could be traumatizing! Starting a new skincare product can throw your skin into full-on freak out mode, making it worse than when you started? Of course you start wondering what’s wrong with your skin, or if it’s the product giving your skin a reaction? You could be in the middle of a process called skin purging.


Sometimes product information warnings state that the skin may purge in some cases after you start using a product. Some products don’t even come with any information on purging. You might have questions in your mind about if it’s just a bad week for your breakouts or if you are purging.


So what exactly is purging? When do you purge, how do you purge, and what is a real breakout? This guide will help you determine if you are using the right product on your skin and if you need to continue or stop its use!


What is purging?


Purgingis a process by which a new product leads pimples to form at a faster ratethrough a destructive process of shedding old skin. The shedding of the old skin happens in the form of peels, flaking, sometimes redness as you start and continue using the product. This can look raw and disturbing to the eyes, feels irritating, and although you really have no reason to actually freak out (YET); this is more likely to happen when you use retinoids or acids meant to increase cell turnover. The bigger the difference between your previous products and new products, the larger the chance you’ll experience a skin purge. Not only is your skin getting used to increased cell turnover, but its pH could be temporarily re-balancing. Breakouts can be entirely normal; and these will lessen with the continued use of the product as your skin adjusts. All those clogged pores lurking under the surface (called microcomedones) are just making their way to the surface in giant breakouts.


Basically the science behind purging is simple: the skin cell renewal and shedding of old cells gets accelerated through the use of the product. Hence purging should not cause concern once you determine that you are actually purging.


What is a breakout and how it differs from purging?


Unlike normal breakouts, acne that comes from a purge will tend to appear, grow and heal faster. This skin cycle shows that your skin is currently detoxing, you’ll notice those breakouts are likely to be in areas you normally have clogged pores.

 

If you start to breakout or notice inflammation/redness in an area that you’re usually completely clear, this could indicate irritation with the product rather purging. If any other symptoms like breakouts or skin sensitivities seem to be getting worse over time, this could also be an indicator that it is not the right product for you! That product may have ingredients which are not right for your skin type. Also, if you aren’t using a product that increases cell turnover (ex. a moisturizer without any active ingredients) it’s less likely to be purging.

 

While everyone is different, the transition period can take anywhere between 4-6 weeks which is the amount of time for a full skin renewal, so it’s good to keep that in the back of your mind as a benchmarkbefore completely tossing it away.Don’t forget that a new product transition can depend on a mix of outside factors like your diet, hormones, menstrual cycle, the difference of your previous skincare regimen, amount of sleep, diet, etc.


What kind of products initiate purging?


In most cases products that initiate purging are AHA/BHA products, retinol based products, oil based products, and other exfoliating productsthat accelerate the skin exfoliation rate which usually causes skin purging.


What to do when you purge?


If you are purging, try to remember it’s the initiation of a healthy process in detoxifying the skin, and you must continue using your skin regimen. With products that are worth the wait and patience, while you may experience some breakouts, you should notice many positive changes too! This could come in the form of softer or more glowy skin, improved texture and hydration, and less inflammation. Even though you may experience some breakouts, you should at least be seeing positive changes too!


What to do when your skin breaks out?

If you are having breakout, then just be sure about it by following the pattern for 4 to 6 weeks. Sometimes you may realize even before that. Once you realize the skin is not improving after the breakout, immediately stop using the product.


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