What is Skin Purging? Causes, Duration, Prevention, And Treatment



Oct 13, 2023

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I understand the toll chronic stress takes on your mind, body, and skin. Throughout many years of figuring out my health issues, I have channelled my existing knowledge as a Holistic Remedial Therapist and up-skilled as a Certified Cosmetic Formulator to create FIFTY7KIND, offering a collection of Multi-Award-Winning, Luxury formulas elevated by High-Performance Clinically Proven Actives, designed to holistically treat the impact of stress, by calming, nurturing, rejuvenating and restoring balance to the skin. Every product is made by hand in my Artisan lab in Australia.

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If you’ve ever tried a new skincare product and noticed an initial breakout of pimples, you might have experienced what’s known as “skin purging.” While this phenomenon can be concerning, it’s essential to understand that it’s a temporary and usually beneficial process that can lead to clearer, healthier skin in the long run. In this blog post, we will delve into the concept of skin purging, what causes it, how long it can last, steps to avoid it, and how to treat it when it occurs.

What is Skin Purging?

Skin purging is a short-term reaction that occurs when you introduce a new skincare product or ingredient into your routine. During this phase, you may experience an increase in breakouts, whiteheads, blackheads, or other blemishes. While it can be discouraging, especially when you’re trying to improve your skin’s appearance, skin purging is a sign that your skincare product is working to bring underlying inflammation to the surface.

What Causes a Skin Purge?

Skin purging typically occurs when you use products that increase cell turnover or exfoliate the skin. These products include:

  • ALPHA HYDROXY ACIDS (AHAs): Such as glycolic acid and lactic acid
  • BETA HYDROXY ACIDS (BHAs): Like salicylic acid or Willow Bark Extract
  • RETINOIDS: Such as retinol, tretinoin or retinol alternatives
  • VITAMIN C SERUMS: Which encourage skin renewal
  • CHEMICAL PEELS: These remove dead skin cells.

These ingredients work by speeding up the skin’s natural exfoliation process, turn over your skin cells, which can irritate already inflamed skin. A skin purge is not necessarily extracting bacteria, more simply put; it is removing the inflammation that is causing your acne so that your skin can start to clear itself. As a result, you may notice breakouts or congestion and can show up on your skin as:

  • Blemishes
  • Blackheads
  • Whiteheads
  • Cystic acne (in some cases).

Breakout or Purge, how to know the difference?

BREAKOUT – Represent skin changes related to acne, a skin condition triggered by excess oil, skin bacteria, clogged pores, and inflammation.
PURGING – Represents skin changes related to the start of a new product or skincare ingredients.

A breakout on your skin after introducing a new product may not be a sign of a purge but could be a standard breakout:

  • Ingredients: Skin purges typically result from chemicals that exfoliate your skin, like retinol, alpha and beta hydroxy acids, and acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. If your skin is breaking out after using a non-active/exfoliating product for example sunscreen, makeup, balm, facial serum, Oil or lotion this is more likely to be a breakout
  • Duration: The life cycle of the purge is faster than a regular breakout. It will heal much quicker than in a typical breakout. After introducing a new product if the breakouts are lasting longer than four to six weeks, then it may be a sign of skin irritation and not the product for you and your skin.
  • Location: Purges also tend to trigger breakouts in the area where you normally see acne/blemish symptoms, if your skin is being irritated in new areas, it’s most likely not purging

How Long Does Skin Purging Last?

The duration of skin purging can vary from person to person. Typically, it lasts for about 4-6 weeks, but it can be shorter or longer depending on factors like skin type, the specific product used, and the extent of impurities in your skin. The good news is that once the skin has purged, you should start to see an improvement in your complexion.

Steps You Can Take To Avoid Skin Purging

While skin purging is often inevitable when introducing certain active ingredients into your skincare routine, there are steps you can take to minimize its severity:

  • PATCH TEST: Always patch-test new products to identify any adverse reactions before applying them to your entire face. Skin purging should not be confused with irritation or an allergic reaction. If you experience more severe symptoms, such as intense itching, redness or swelling, discontinue use of the product immediately.
  • GRADUAL INTRODUCTION: Start by using the new product or ingredient only once or twice a week, then gradually increase the frequency to allow your skin to adjust.
  • HYDRATION: Ensure your skin is adequately hydrated, as dry or dehydrated skin may be more prone to purging, remember to make sure you are keeping hydrated from within, by drinking plenty of water!
  • SUN PROTECTION: Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen daily to protect your skin from UV damage, as some purging-inducing ingredients can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
  • BE PATIENT: Recognise that purging is a temporary phase and that your skin will likely improve after this initial adjustment period.

How to Treat Purging Skin

If you find yourself in the midst of a skin purge, here are some tips to help manage and soothe your skin:

  • STICK TO YOUR ROUTINE: Continue using the product as directed, as discontinuing it may prolong the purging process.
  • AVOID PICKING: Refrain from picking or squeezing the blemishes, as this can lead to scarring and further inflammation.
  • GENTLE CLEANSING: Use a mild, non-comedogenic, non-stripping, non-drying cleanser to cleanse your face twice daily,
  • APPLY A CALMING MOISTURISER: NADI Innate Flow Quell Balsam helps to keep your skin hydrated and moisturised, specifically formulated with a “Calming Complex” Chamazulene, Guaiazulene, Allo-aromadendrene, Flavonoids Apigenin, Luteolin and Thymoquinone scavenge free radicals reducing inflamed skin conditions, while Antihistamine Action combined with Bisabolol, reduces the appearance of redness caused by inflammation, dryness or irritation. Skin soothing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and ceramides help to prevent further skin irritation, calm the skin, and strengthen of the skin barrier. Read “How To Treat Compromised Or Sensitive Skin” for detailed information about your skin barrier function and how to repair it!
  • CONSULT A DERMATOLOGIST OR ESTHETICIAN: If your skin purge is severe or prolonged, or if you’re uncertain whether it’s purging or an adverse reaction, seek guidance.

Final Thoughts

Skin purging may be an initial hurdle when incorporating new skincare products or ingredients, but it’s a sign that your skin is undergoing positive changes. By understanding its causes, duration, and how to prevent and treat it, you can navigate the process with confidence. Remember that patience and consistency are key to achieving clearer and healthier skin in the long term. If you have any questions about FIFTY7KIND products, or if you are experiencing a skin purge please reach out I am always here to help, email me directly at gabrielle@fifty7kind.com

Until next time, be human, be kind, be you.

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Fifty7kind Prody=ucts TANU Skin Affinity Coactive Serum NADI Innate Flow Quell Balsam LUCA Lipid Ferment Vitamin C Serum



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