Research has shown that a beta hydroxy acid (BHA, also known as salicylic acid) exfoliant can help create a clearer complexion, unclog pores, and renew skin's texture, but some first-time users report experiencing a "purging phase" initially, where they actually have more breakouts.
My beloved Paula's Choice BHA Liquid Exfoliant caused me to purge for 4-6 weeks. During this time I used the exfoliator 1-2x a week. Before you jump ship lets talk about why skin purges. A purge occurs because this BHA exfoliates not just the surface of your skin but also the lining of your pores.
Purging should then last the length of time for a full cycle. While that is different for everyone, it should on average last between 4 to 6 weeks. However, if your skin isn't getting better after 6 to 8 weeks, your skin may be having an adverse reaction to the new product(s).
Paula's Choice BHAs work quickly, and if this is your first "real" BHA, it may result in speeding up the process of your breakout as the BHA works to clear cellular debris and excess oil from the lining of your pores. ... The most probable reason for the breakouts experienced after using a BHA is pure coincidence.
Use a Gentle BHA
Yes, BHAs can cause initial skin purging, but they also happen to be the most effective way to clear and prevent acne. Not only do they exfoliate dead skin on the surface, but they also deep-clean pores, reduce excess oil, calm inflammation and fade post-acne marks.
BHAs clear up blackheads, whiteheads, and have anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. This umbrella term includes the popular anti-acne ingredient of Salicylic Acid. BHAs also exfoliate the top layer but are best bought for their deep penetrative qualities.
The most probable reason for the breakouts experienced after using a BHA is pure coincidence. The breakouts also may coincide with hormonal fluctuations, as many women tend to breakout during this time no matter what anti-acne products they're using or starting to use.
How often should I use Paula's Choice BHA Exfoliant? You can use Paula's Choice BHA every day— exfoliating once either in the morning or evening (pick whichever is most convenient for you). Many people with stubborn clogged pores have great results using a Paula's Choice BHA exfoliant twice per day.
Salicylic acid also improves the shape of the pore lining, and once the pore is normalized, the backed-up, smaller clog can more easily come to the surface, appearing as new clogged pores (blackheads or white bumps).
Depending on the products you were using before, you may see an overnight improvement. Enhanced results will occur within 2–8 weeks, and will increase and be maintained over time.
Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant reduced my breakouts by ~70% after 3 days of using it AM and PM! Note that timing is different for everyone. After 7 days of use, my skin felt very smooth and soft. It may take 5-14 days to see results (source) Don't give up!
Skin purging typically looks like tiny red bumps on the skin that are painful to touch. They are often accompanied by whiteheads or blackheads. It can also cause your skin to become flaky. The flare ups caused by purging have a shorter lifespan than a breakout.
Paula's Choice BHA 9 Treatment dramatically improves the severity and frequency of tenacious pore-related concerns. Its gentle yet effective, targeted action is suitable for all skin types, including skin prone to sensitivity and milia. At night, apply as a leave-on spot treatment for stubborn imperfections.
Start Slowly: Apply every other day and note skin's response. Then use up to twice daily. For daytime, always finish with SPF 30+. For nighttime, follow with the rest of your routine.
Retinoids such as Tretinoin, acids such as salicylic, and benzoyl peroxide are just a few of the products that cause purging. These products contain active ingredients that increase the skin cell turnover rate, therefore causing your skin to purge.
Does BHA Make Skin Purge? The answer is: Maybe … for some people. Because BHA is oil-soluble, it exfoliates not only on the surface of skin, but also inside the pore lining. That kind of exfoliation can trigger a mass exodus of inflammatory substances and oil that, under certain conditions, can create more breakouts.
The duration of skin purging can vary, but it should not last any longer than six weeks, says Michele Green, MD, a cosmetic dermatologist with a private practice. This is because after six weeks your skin should become used to the ingredients in the product that caused the purge.
Yes, it is safe to use niacinamide and BHA together. Both formulas are effective yet gentle and contain additional calming and restoring antioxidants. Some people with extra-sensitive skin may find that alternating them by using one in the morning and one at night works best.
I've been using the Paula's Choice BHA exfoliant about four times a week for almost a month now, and I've seen a noticeable improvement in my skin's texture—including gradually whittling down those pesky closed comedones.
One user was pleasantly surprised by how quickly the BHA duo worked at removing their acne scars. “I started using this product less than 2 weeks ago and all my acne and acne scars around my mouth area have almost completely vanished,” they wrote. “Amazing product!”
Applying a clean, cloth-covered ice pack over a pimple can help reduce redness and inflammation from an acne blemish. Apply spot treatment products. Putting on spot treatment products such as benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid, or tea tree oil can help to reduce acne blemishes.
Dr. Lee recommends using salicylic acid cleanser on the infected area can help prevent new pimples from popping up.
BHA seems to be more effective for treating skin conditions like acne because of its antibacterial properties. AHAs, such as glycolic and lactic acid, may be effective in treating changes in skin color such as melasma, solar lentigines, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Many have questioned whether skin purging is real. It may seem contradictory that continuing to use a product through breakouts and holding on through some serious bad skin days can result in your complexion eventually clearing. But purging is absolutely real—especially if you have acne-prone skin to begin with.