Skin purging is an initial bout of acne that can occur when you start using a new, active skincare product that increases your cell turnover. Certain topical ingredients, such as acids and retinoids, make you shed dead skin cells at a faster rate than normal.
The bottom line. If you develop a reaction after using niacinamide, it probably isn't purging. That's because purging occurs when an ingredient increases skin cell turnover and niacinamide doesn't have this effect on skin cells. The reaction is likely due to another ingredient in the product.
Summary – Does Niacinamide Cause Purging? Niacinamide doesn't increase skin cell turnover which means that it shouldn't cause 'purging'. However, it may cause breakouts.
Generally speaking, dermatologists say purging should be over within four to six weeks of starting a new skin care regimen. If your purge lasts longer than six weeks, consult your dermatologist. It could be that you need to adjust the dosage and/or frequency of application.
When you start a new skin care routine or you incorporate new products into your current regimen, you may experience breakouts or skin flaking. This process is sometimes called purging. This is a normal, short-term condition where the skin will rid itself of underlying oil, bacteria, or dirt, according to Dr.
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.
Unfortunately, when you first start using it, your acne may get worse before it gets better. Some of the more common side effects include dry skin and chapped lips. You may also have dry nasal passages, which can make your nose bleed.
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.”
Some serums can be too oily, which can exacerbate bumps and cause excessive buildup in the pores; other serums may contain high amounts of acids or exfoliants that can irritate the skin and worsen the condition—especially if your skin is sensitive, she explains.
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.
You may experience some redness and irritation when you start using niacinamide products. Some of this may be normal and lessen over time, but lasting irritation may be a sign you're using too much or a product with too high of a concentration of niacinamide for your skin type.
When selecting niacinamide products, Dr Ho advises that “a concentration of 4-5% niacinamide is ideal—enough to improve acne and fine wrinkles”. Higher concentrations, like The Ordinary 10% Niacinamide + 1% Zinc, have not yet been proven to exhibit a higher rate of efficacy.
These “can cause an increase in skin cell turnover which can lead to purging—a breakout of spots in areas where you would normally get acne. However, hyaluronic acid does not increase skin cell turnover; it's purely a hydrating skincare ingredient.”
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.
As it's well tolerated by most people, niacinamide can be used twice a day everyday. It works at any time of the year although it comes in particularly handy in winter during cold, dry weather and frequent use of central heating. Use it in the run-up before starting your retinol treatment and alongside it, too.
Chemical exfoliants can also cause a purging effect, including alpha-hydroxy-acids (AHAs) and beta-hydroxy-acids (BHAs). For example, products like The Ordinary's fantastic AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution.
What does it look like? Distinct, acne-like bumps may be purging. However, if you're noticing welts, diffuse redness, or anything resembling a rash, stop what you're doing. Inflammation is a sign of reaction and generally appears as all-over redness rather than individual, blemish-like spots.
Purging pimples do not leave marks or blemishes on your skin. It actually heals the skin to form fresher skin cells. Breakouts don't benefit the skin; they leave marks and blemishes when they go. The cell turnover is faster to remove dead cells.
Skin purging occurs because newly introduced skincare ingredients increase the rate at which your skin cells turnover, causing you to shed more dead skin cells than usual. This, in turn, pushes layers of dead skin off and also brings clogged pores to the surface, Chang says, resulting in more breakouts.
Some people do experience worsening if they have long-standing acne. This is usually due to purging, in which the isotretinoin pushes out dead skin cells and debris. Because your skin can become red and dry, the medication sometimes makes acne look more inflamed and obvious.
Most patients don't see an appreciable difference until the third month of treatment. But first comes the “purge,” when all the old skin cells start rising—at an accelerated rate, with a potent retinoid—from the bottom layer of the epidermis up to the surface. “It gets worse before it gets better” is the adage.
That is why you hear some Accutane patients saying, “It gets worse before it gets better.” But this is when the pilosebaceous units shed abnormal cells and replace them with better ones. After 1-3 months, you should see your skin becoming clearer.
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.
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!