How to treat purging skin

When I started using Retin-A, I had a mini-purge. I considered  myself #blessed because others have it worse.

Sometimes when you introduce a new product to your routine, your skin gets worse before it gets better. Yaani, the pimples just come out and show zero chill.

This period is called purging.  

Why does purging happen?

Pimples can take up to 8 weeks to be created. It starts as a clogged pore before you actually see the raised bump on the surface of the skin.

If you introduce a product with actives that increase the rate at which the skin renews itself, like retinoids or hydroxy acids it will make the pimples come up even faster.

After this spotty period (ha!), all the potential zits would be gone and your skin is clearer and smoother.

That’s why the skin will seem worse before it gets better.

When purging, the skin gets worse before it gets better

But how do you know if it’s purging and not a reaction?

Sometimes, our skin isn’t purging but reacting to the new product. If it’s a reaction, you need to stop using the product because your skin isn’t getting better.

Here are 3 tips to help you determine whether you’re purging or reacting:

  1. If the pimples are coming up in places you don’t usually break out, it’s probably a reaction.

  2. If the product you are using doesn’t have actives that increase the rate of skin cell renewal, like hydroxy acids, Vitamin C, benzoyl peroxide or retinoids but is causing breakouts, it’s probably a reaction. Your cleanser shouldn't make you purge for instance.

  3. If your skin does not seem to get better after 6-8 weeks, it’s probably a reaction. Purging usually lasts about a month because that’s how long the skin takes to be renewed.

How do you treat your skin will it’s purging?

  • Introduce the new product slowly. Start with a low concentration in a small amount less frequently before gradually increasing the use. For example, if you are using Retin-A start with a pea sized amount of 0.025% once a week.

  • Keep your skin hydrated and moisturized to help it heal faster.

  • Slather on the SPF to prevent sun damage.

  • Use gentle cleansers to clean the skin without stripping and irritating it even more.

Has your skin purged before? Did you confuse it with a reaction? Let me know in the comments!

Skin Care TipsClare Oparo