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.
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.
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.
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. Basically, as skin cell turnover increases, new clogs rise to the top.
In general, retinol is one of the more gentle varieties of retinoids, however, “if you're going to experience shedding it will begin on day three to five of daily night time use, and this usually continues for about five to 10 days depending on your skin type and the percentage of retinol you've used,” adds Ejikeme.
Generally, it takes a few weeks to see results, but some OTC options may require months of regular use. Most dermatologists said you'll need to use retinol for a few weeks before you see results, but you should see improvements by 12 weeks with most products.
Dermatologist Dendy Engelman, M.D., considers whiteheads and blackheads “mild” and therefore, “over-the-counter products that contain ingredients such as salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and retinol should do the trick.” According to Dr.
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.
That's right: It may be tempting to stop using said retinoid or exfoliating acid altogether, but resist. “If it's an Rx retinoid from your doctor, they gave it to you for a reason,” Mraz Robinson says. “Stick through this 'it gets worse before it gets better' phase.”
First-time retinol users have reported irritation, including redness, dryness, and peeling. If you use too high a strength or apply retinol more frequently than you should, you may experience further irritation, like itchiness and scaly patches.
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.
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.
“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.
First, the answer is yes, retinol can make wrinkles worse, especially when you first start using it. What is happening is a drying effect, and one can get epidermal sliding from separation from the dermis.
Should you use retinol under your eyes? Yes, definitely. While it is true that retinol – a form of vitamin A – is a powerful ingredient and the skin under your eyes is delicate, there's no reason why you should miss out on the amazing benefits of retinol.
Retinol and tretinoin, the stronger version that is available only by prescription, are the only creams proved to help make fine lines, wrinkles and age spots look better. These creams often cause bumps, redness and flaking during the first one or two months of use.
Your first port of call should be retinoids, thanks to their ability to speed up cell turnover and fade superficial scars in the process. That said, deeper, more indented scars are less likely to respond, according to Dr. Mahto, who rates The Ordinary's Granactive Retinoid 2% in Emulsion, £8.
Retinoids are a “great option” to regulate cell turnover and prevent the pores from becoming congested, noted Garshick, who added topical retinoids work on all types of acne, but “are especially helpful” for blackheads and whiteheads.
Pockmarks, which are also called pick marks or acne scars, are blemishes with a concave shape that can look like holes or indentations in the skin. They occur when the deeper layers of the skin become damaged. As these deeper layers heal, extra collagen is produced.
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.
May appear when you first start using retinol
The increased cell turnover temporarily sloughs off more dead skin cells. This creates a lag time before new, healthy cells come to the surface of your skin. Your new skin is exposed before it's ready, and redness or discoloration, and irritation is the result.
Retinol (leave to absorb for 10-20 minutes)
“It is important to leave a 10-20 minute wait time before applying the next product. Retinols are powerful antioxidants and it is important to allow it to fully absorb if you want to avoid your skin becoming sensitive,” says Dr Liakas.
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.