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.
How long does it take for skin to purge? Unfortunately, purging can be a lengthy process and it can take up to three or so months before results start to show, especially if the treatment is an acne medicated treatment.
It may not be easy to tell the difference between skin purging and breaking out since they both involve acne. However, the key difference between breakouts and skin purging is that skin purging is temporary and usually occurs after you have incorporated a new ingredient in your skincare routine, Green says.
How to treat skin purging. “If the skin barrier is compromised when you see purging then start ingredients which help with barrier repair, such as ceramides and hyaluronic acid in a non-comedogenic formulation. If you are using a treatment or product continue with a slower approach.”
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.
A purge can last as long as two months, and you should start seeing an improvement by the six-week point, if not sooner. On the other side of a purge is cleaner, clearer skin!
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.
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.
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).
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.
A cystic pimple on your chin? You're probably not purging. Though a skin purge can technically appear as any type of acne, it typically looks like “small, red, tender bumps on the skin, and often [can be accompanied] with the appearance of blackheads or whiteheads,” says Dr. Nazarian.
Purging usually lasts between two to four weeks, according to Dr Phillips. “Efficacy is partly determined by the formulation and strength of the product; however, on average, most people will start to see a difference after a month,” he says.
"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.
These unwanted effects — particularly skin dryness and acne breakouts — are widely referred to as the “tretinoin purge.” While they don't affect everyone, many tretinoin users experience some degree of purge effects during the first several weeks of treatment.
“Benefits will be seen in about four to six weeks of consistent, nightly use,” she says. You might also get more breakouts once you start using retinoids. Keep calm and stick with it. “It's common to see acne get worse before it gets better, as the retinoids can cause a mass 'purge,'” says Robinson.
“If you're overusing your retinol, or if you're using a retinol that's too strong for you, it can lead to peeling, irritation, and excessive dryness, which may have led to retinol's association with skin thinning,” she says.
Skin purging is a process that happens when certain skincare ingredients increase skin cell turnover. This encourages shedding of old, dead cells and growth of new, healthy ones. Unfortunately, this process often makes the skin look worse before it looks better.
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.
It's purely a hydrating skincare ingredient that helps to increase the amount of water within your skin. If you have experienced a breakout after using a hyaluronic acid product, it is highly unlikely to be due to 'purging' unless the product also contains an AHA, BHA, or retinoid (e.g. retinol, retinaldehyde).
While some niacinamide-containing products start to show initial benefits in two weeks, most results will show in four weeks or more. "You have to remember that it doesn't take two days for spots to form so you can't expect them to be removed in two days either," explains Engelman.
Anything that makes your skin cells turn over faster can cause skin purging, so generally those with exfoliating benefits, such as retinoids (Vitamin A), Vitamin C (a very gentle acid that can slough off dead superficial skin) and hydroxy acids (glycolic acid, malic acid and salicylic acid).
How long does Niacinamide take to work? Using 5% or 10% Niacinamide-containing products show better effects with no skin problems like irritation. Most studies show that even though you may find improvement immediately after starting Niacinamide, it usually takes anywhere between 8-12 weeks for a visible change.
How long does niacinamide take to work on hyperpigmentation? In mild skincare conditions, you'll notice visible results within two weeks. Based on most clinical studies performed on people with stubborn concerns, we can estimate that niacinamide can improve hyperpigmentation in 4-8 weeks.