Skin Purging vs. Breakouts

Brittan Bates

Global Brand Storytelling

4 min read

Skincare Education

Discover the difference between skin purging and skin breakouts. It can be difficult to know whether you’re experiencing a purge or a breakout. We share tips on differentiating between the two processes.

Skin Purging

Seeing spots and pimples on your face will most likely lead you to think that you’re experiencing a skin breakout. However, not all spots are created equal! In fact, they can appear out of nowhere and for various reasons. It’s not always easy to determine how a blemish is formed, why it appeared, and what to do about it. And trying to figure out how to deal with it can be mind-boggling.

In this article, we will look at skin purging versus breakouts and tell you how to identify what is happening with your skin.

What is skin purging?

Skin purging can occur when you use a certain new skincare product and it brings all the dead skin cells, bacteria, dirt, and oil beneath your skin to the surface before getting rid of them. This will lead to breakouts which is known as purging. Ultimately, skin purging is a reaction to an active ingredient that speeds up the skin cell turnover rate. The goal is to expose younger-looking and fresher skin cells underneath the purged layer. For these fresh, healthy cells to cycle to the surface, the stuff on top must rise to the surface first. This process of a skin purge can cause pimples and dry, peeling skin.

What causes skin purging?

Many skincare products can cause skin purging. However, alpha hydroxy acid and beta hydroxy acid in exfoliators are common causes. This happens as it exfoliates the inner layers of your skin by making it slightly loose on application and clearing out oil and dirt. Other products that contain benzoyl peroxide, retinyl palmitate, retinol tazarotene, vitamin C, salicylic acid, and glycolic acid can also cause skin purging. The function of these ingredients is to help your skin generate new cells.

How to deal with skin purging?

When your skin goes through a purge, it is the most sensitive and vulnerable. You cannot stop the process and must be patient until it heals. However, you can minimize or speed up the process by following these tips:

  • It is important to start using a new product with active ingredients gradually. It is best to test it on a small patch of your skin in tiny amounts. You can also use it all over in very small quantities twice a week. As your skin gets comfortable, you can increase the frequency.
  • Avoid popping pimples, and do not touch your face.
  • Always keep your pillow covers and bed linen clean.
  • To avoid further irritation, keep soaps, exfoliants, and products with harsh chemicals away.
  • Do not go outdoors during peak sun time to protect your skin from the harsh UV rays. If you do need to step out, be sure to wear an effective, non-greasy sunscreen.
  • Do not use any products that can dry out your skin more.

How to tell the difference between skin purging versus a breakout

If you’re adding a new product to your routine, you should remember that not all reactions are necessarily a skin purge. This is important to know when asking yourself, “What is purging?” If you have any skincare concerns, you should be aware that the product could irritate your skin for a different reason, such as clogging your pores which can lead to acne or trigger an allergic reaction.

Here is how you can determine the difference between a purge and a breakout.

  • Duration: You must determine how long you’ve had the breakout. Acne that occurs during a purge is faster than a breakout. If you’re using a product that is known for purging, but you’re experiencing a breakout that lasts longer than four to six weeks, then it may be a sign that the product is not working and is actually aggravating your skin.
  • Location: If your skin feels irritated in new areas, it may be a skin breakout and not purging.
  • Active ingredients: You need to consider the active ingredients in the products you apply to your skin. As mentioned before, skin purges usually result from chemicals that exfoliate your skin. If your skin breaks out after using hydrating oils, sunscreen, or anything that clogs your pores, you’re most likely dealing with a breakout.

If you ever find yourself concerned and asking yourself, “What are breakouts?”, you’ll discover that they occur when the pores of your skin become blocked with oil, bacteria, and dead skin. To avoid this, you should choose products that promote oil control and know how to choose the right face serum.

Shop the best skincare products at Fresh

Discover the best safe and effective products at Fresh. Whether you’re seeking the right serum or products for uneven skin texture, you will find them right here! Use the best skincare range with no compromise.

Author Profile
blog author Brittan Bates

Brittan Bates

Global Brand Storytelling

Written by Brittan Bates for Fresh. Brittan is an NYC-based writer, editor, and storyteller with 9 years of experience spanning digital and print journalism, copywriting, brand strategy, and more. Her work has appeared in publications such as Teen Vogue and brands including Diane von Furstenberg, abc carpet & home, FRĒDA SALVADOR, and more.