Purging is a sign that the product is working and you should continue with the treatment as prescribed. After a few weeks of purging, your skin and acne will have noticeably improved. Breaking out is when your skin is reacting because it is sensitive to something in the new product.
Signs your skin is purging
Your breakouts cleared up much faster than your usual acne or pimples. Your breakouts did not leave marks or blemishes on your skin. All the breakouts seemingly started all at once. The breakouts settle down in 2-3 weeks and your skin appears clearer and healthier.
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.
Purging can last for anything from one or two weeks to one or two months. Breakouts can last a while; there is no time period that indicates when the breakouts will go away. The cell turnover speed is usual. The purging of the skin starts after a few days of using a new product.
Dr. Jaliman adds that itching, redness, or irritation are signs your skin is simply sensitive to the formula. "If it isn't something that's formulated to help skin turn over and you're breaking out more," says Dr. Nagler, "you should stop."
“Purging is neither good nor bad. It can happen after using excellent products but, equally, it also frequently occurs when the skin barrier is compromised prior to starting with a product or treatment.
Skin purging occurs when you start using a new product that contains chemical exfoliants such as alpha-hydroxy acids, beta-hydroxy acids, and retinoids, all of which speed up the rate of skin cell turnover (the rate at which you shed dead skin cells and replace them with new cells), says Dr. Gonzalez.
Additionally, if you experience any itchiness, redness, burning or pain immediately after applying a new product, these are clear signs you're experiencing an allergic reaction and it's best to wash it off carefully and stop using it altogether.
If you want to prevent skin purging or limit a purge's severity, make sure you introduce your new acne treatment products slowly into your routine. This is true of other skincare products for most skin conditions! Slow and steady usually wins the race.
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.
Though some people do report experiencing irritation and breakouts after using the ingredient, niacinamide is unlikely to cause purging. That's because it doesn't affect the skin in a way that usually triggers purging.
"Ideally the skin is smooth, supple, and uniform in color," Waldorf said. If your skin feels less bumpy, the size of your pores has been reduced, and you're noticing less marks, acne, and discoloration, your products are likely working.
Peeling, redness, and irritation are common onset reactions for some people when they first start to use retinol. Some reactions get so bad that the common term used to describe the list of effects has been dubbed the “retinol uglies”. Note from a skincare expert: Many things in life get worse before they get better.
Wearing makeup is not off the table, but when possible, try to give your skin a chance to breathe. “If you want to wear makeup during a purge, keep it to a limited amount and use oil-free face products,” says Doyle.
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).
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The Purge Rating
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Most niacinamide products also contain a variety of other ingredients. If any of these ingredients increase skin cell turnover then they may be behind any 'purging'. Some ingredients can also be 'comedogenic' which means that they are more likely to clog pores and cause breakouts.
4 tips for when niacinamide fails
Signs it's not working: You're not seeing results and you notice the product is pilling on your skin. Also, if you experience redness, itching, or burning, you might want to skip this ingredient.
Purging is slightly different, appearing on the skin mostly as blackheads or small skin-coloured bumps just under the surface of the skin. But it is also possible for purging to cause similar spots to a breakout, too.