What is skin purging and is it real?

The phrase “skin purging” may conjure up thoughts of sludge and grime being pulled from your pores, as shown in any number of movies depicting giant blackheads or pus-filled pimples being burst out of the skin. When it comes to skin purging, though, the truth is that it isn’t quite as horrible as it appears (or to be feared). Rather, a skin purge describes how certain people’s skin reacts to specific products, such as Retinol and acids. Chemical exfoliants are substances that slough off the top layer of dead skin cells, allowing new ones to proliferate faster than they would on their own, causing blockages to appear on the surface and causing irritation and breakouts. The good thing about purging is that it’s just transitory, with fewer side effects than a typical breakout, and it’s ultimately a sign that the treatments you’ve just applied to your face are working.

Many people have asked whether skin cleansing is possible. It may seem counterintuitive that sticking with a product through breakouts and even serious poor skin days will eventually lead to a clearer complexion. Purging, on the other hand, is quite real—especially if you already have acne-prone skin. Acne treatment takes time, and utilizing acne remedies might make skin seem worse before it improves. Acne flare-ups are known to be caused by certain skincare products and chemicals. When some patients start using tretinoin, a prescription topical retinoid, it creates fresh acne outbreaks in the first few weeks.

You probably won’t notice when your skin is purging because it will look similar to previous outbreaks. Acne flare-ups can include both papules and pustules, which are two different forms of acne. Papules, often known as early pimples, are little red bumps that feel hard. Your skin can feel like sandpaper if you have a lot of papules. Pustules, or pus-filled pimples, are like papules, but they contain a yellowish fluid and usually have a yellow or white center, earning them the nickname “whiteheads.”

Can You Prevent Purging?

Let’s say you have a new product that you think may help your skin, but you don’t want to deal with the skin purge that comes with it. Is there anything that can be done to keep a purge from happening? Unfortunately, this is not the case. Dermatologists, on the other hand, advise gradually adding new products into your routine to give your skin time to acclimatize. For example, if you’re trying out new retinol, try using it once in the first week, twice in the second week, three times in the third week, and so on, until you’re taking it on a daily or weekly basis (depending on how sensitive your skin is).

And, when you buy a new product, read the contents carefully and compare notes with other products that haven’t worked out for you in the past—your skin may be incompatible with a particular chemical or component. Some active components, such as chemical sunscreens, benzoyl peroxide, are always going to be a problem for some people, regardless of the formulation.

What Causes Skin Purging?

Skin purging has nothing to do with your fingers (which, in the first place, shouldn’t be on your face) and sounds like something you can do manually (think: squeezing out all of the yellowy cruds from a blackhead). Rather, it’s a reaction to a new product on your skin. Skin purging happens when you start using a new product that contains chemical exfoliants like alpha-hydroxy acids, beta-hydroxy acids, and retinoids, which all speed up the rate of skin cell turnover (the rate at which dead skin cells are shed and replaced with new cells). It can also happen following in-office procedures that use the same types of chemicals, such as chemical peels.

Purging is, to some part, a necessary sacrifice; the skin must bring all of the muck from deeper layers to the surface to eventually get rid of it. When your skin pushes oil, debris, and germs up and out of your pores (so that it may eventually start forming new cells and begin to clear itself), you’ll likely notice clusters of small, red bumps and pustules that resemble acne or a breakout. As aggravating as this fresh crop of blemishes may be, keep in mind that it isn’t always the product’s fault. “Pimples generated by a skin purge aren’t new; they’ve always been fermenting beneath the skin’s surface. The new product simply accelerated the process.

Skin Purging VS Irritation


When your skin’s cell turnover suddenly increases, it’s called a skin purge. A new substance could accelerate the cell turnover cycle, causing congestion to rise to the surface and manifesting as fresh breakouts. When this happens, your skin will require time to react and regulate, and it will normally clear up in 2-4 weeks.

Clogged pores or clusters of blemishes that come to a head are common signs of a purge, and they’re usually found in regions where you’re already prone to breakouts. Exfoliants, acids, retinoids (and substitutes), Vitamin C, and oil cleansers are all products that may cause purging. Though it may be tough, if your skin appears to be purging rather than irritated, it may be preferable to continue using the product or take a break and try it again.


An allergy or intolerance to one of the product’s ingredients is frequently the cause of an irritation reaction. This usually appears as a rash or clusters of hives or bumps that are hot, itchy, burning, red, and/or painful right after you use the product. This type of reaction can also occur if your barrier function has been compromised by over-exfoliation, or if your skin is sensitive because of a recent exfoliating treatment or excessive sun exposure. If you have pimples in places where you don’t usually get them, it could be an irritation rather than a purging, or an ingredient could be obstructing your pores (though this isn’t always the case).

If you experience any of these sorts of irritation, you should probably stop using it. If the reaction was minor and manageable, wait a few days before trying it again to make sure it is irritating. If you’ve recently had your skin extensively exfoliated or exposed, wait a few days before using the cream again. If your reaction is severe or occurs frequently, it’s most certainly not a good match for your skin. 

Because anything could be an annoyance for someone, identifying the source can be difficult at times. Synthetic fragrances, chemical sunscreens, dyes, parabens, formaldehyde, sulfates, retinol, and acids are all prevalent irritants in conventional skincare. Essential oils (especially when used in large amounts), plant extracts, aloe, and preservatives like potassium sorbate can all cause discomfort in natural skincare.

Make Room For Trial And Error

When it comes to skincare, the challenge is that no single product will be perfect for everyone. Although we all need many of the same things for our skin to be healthy (hydration, moisture, antioxidants, etc. ), we all have different preferences for how products feel, smell, and work. Irritants can be common or wholly unrelated to each other. As a result, we sometimes must try a few different items before we find our favorites. So, if you try anything new and your skin reacts badly, consider if it’s a purging or an irritant and take action accordingly. 

Give a product to a friend to try if your skin doesn’t tolerate it, then try something different. Examine the ingredient list carefully to see if anything stands out and make notes in case you have similar responses again. If your skin is purging, give it time to do so and go through a full skin cycle of four weeks to see if the product is good for you. 

If it’s not a good match for your face, you might be able to get away with using it on your neck, chest, or torso instead. Skincare should be pleasurable, not painful. Don’t pressure yourself to utilize a product if it doesn’t seem right. It may take some trial and error to find a skincare routine that you enjoy, but it will be well worth it in the end!

Skin Care Tips

  1. Make sure you’re using the right cleanser for your skin type.

Salicylic gel or benzoyl peroxide wash is ideal for oily or acne-prone skin. For dry, mature skin, use a hydrating glycolic or creamy cleanser. On skin with brown areas or melasma, use a brightening wash, such as an alpha hydroxy acid cleanser.

  1. Don’t use too many products.

Applying various skincare products at the same time is a no-no. It can be irritating to the skin, causing breakouts, and plugged pores.

  1. Moisturize both day and night.

After you get out of the shower and before you go to bed, the best times to moisturize are soon after you get out of the shower and right before you go to bed. Avoid lotions with strong scents and look for a moisturizer that is soft enough to apply every day without irritating one’s skin.

  1. Don’t touch your face.

It’s critical not to touch your face. In addition to transmitting bacteria and producing outbreaks, it can create scars, wrinkles, as well as the flu or other infections.

  1. Hydrate inside and out.

Every skin expert we spoke with emphasised the importance of hydration. When there is a lack of water, the skin loses its shine and sags. She recommends using hydrating formulae in all your products (cleaning, moisturizing, and anti-aging). Also, drink at least eight glasses of water per day.

  1. Avoid direct heat exposure.

Not only should you avoid the sun, but you should also avoid being too close to heaters and fireplaces. Inflammation and collagen degradation are the results. I propose keeping a ten-foot distance between you and the other person. When you’re roasting chestnuts or BBQ over an open fire, take a step back.

OLUMES is a clean beauty brand harnessing the wisdom of the rich heritage of Kadazan-Dusun culture that practices an age-old beauty secret using Borneo’s rich botanical treasure. 

Learn more at https://www.olumes.com