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.
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.
Skin purging refers to a reaction to an active ingredient that is increasing skin cell turnover in order to improve acne. When using prescription-strength acne medications, it's reasonably common for your skin to get worse before it gets better.
“The term 'skin purging' refers to a reaction to an active ingredient that is increasing skin cell turnover rate,” Dr. Deanne Mraz Robinson, a board-certified dermatologist, tells Healthline. As skin cell turnover speeds up, the skin starts shedding dead skin cells faster than normal.
Your skin is very smart; it regulates itself and produces only as much sebum as it needs to stay healthy, hydrated, and youthful. However, when we wash it too much, it first becomes overly dry. This leads to a backup of dead skin, and in turn triggers an overproduction of sebum.
Sudden acne breakouts can be because of numerous reasons, including hormonal changes or hormonal imbalance, an unhealthy diet including lots of deep fried and junk food, release of cortisol hormones because of excessive stress, excessive production of sebum and much more.
Moisturisers can also stick dead cells to the skin's surface, she claims, and the oils can clog pores, contributing to acne and rosacea.
Why do I still have acne in my late 20s? At its root, adult acne is caused by the same things that cause teen acne: excess skin oil and bacteria. Any changes in hormones, including those brought on by pregnancy and menstruation, can trigger excess oil. Women who smoke also seem to be more prone to acne.
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.
Adolescents and young adults between ages 12 and 24 tend to be the most affected group. It usually begins during the start of puberty, affecting girls earlier than boys. Typically people will outgrow acne but about 12 percent of women and 3 percent of men may still have acne even in their 40s.
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.”
You Breakout A Lot
This is also a common sign and goes in junction with clogged pores. If you find yourself breaking out a lot, that typically is a good sign that you're using too much moisturizer for your own good.
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.
If you are using multiple products on your face as part of a “12-step skincare routine,” you may be combining too many different products. Using too many products can definitely cause your skin to breakout. Not to mention that many skin care ingredients can lead to irritation and thus more breakouts.
Remember, though, that an OTC toner won't clear anything more than very mild breakouts. Avoid toners with acne-fighting ingredients if you're using a prescription acne treatment. Using too many medicated products on your skin can leave your skin dry, flaky, and irritated.
You should absolutely moisturize your skin even if you have active acne. It's an absolute myth that moisturizing your face will worsen your acne. In fact, moisturizers are necessary to keep acne-prone skin as relaxed as possible.
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.
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.
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.
Water has many ways in which it can improve your skin, which helps to improve your acne over time. Drinking water has both direct and indirect benefits for treating acne. Firstly, with bacterial acne, water helps to remove toxins and bacteria on the skin, reducing the potential for pore-clogging in the process.
Will my acne ever go away? Most often, acne will go away on its own at the end of puberty, but some people still struggle with acne in adulthood. Almost all acne can be successfully treated, however. It's a matter of finding the right treatment for you.
Although it's typically associated with hormone fluctuations during puberty, hormonal acne can affect adults of any age. It's especially common in women. A number of factors may contribute to this, including menstruation and menopause. It's estimated that 50 percent of women ages 20 to 29 have acne.
So, does sunscreen help acne? Yes! In addition to protecting your skin from UV rays—including reducing exposure to free radicals which correlate to worse acne—and signs of aging, sunscreen can also help your skin. In fact, sunscreen can actually help treat uneven skin and reduce skin redness.
CeraVe is the #1 dermatologist-recommended moisturizer brand for acne*, and our new Acne Control Cleanser with 2% salicylic acid is formulated to clear acne, reduce blackheads and improve the appearance of pores, while purifying clay helps absorb excess oil.
Although Vaseline® Healing Jelly doesn't directly treat acne, its protective formula means it could help your skin recover faster from a breakout.