Skincare / Tutorials

Am I Purging Or Breaking Out?

Anyone with acne has heard of purging. No, not the movie, but the idea that skin gets worse before it gets better. It’s a stressful time when we don’t know if we’re on the road to clear skin or if the new product is irritating us. Luckily, the internet has the answers for finding the difference between them.

Photo by Saluda Programa de Salude

Photo by Saluda Programa de Salude

  • Ask your dermatologist. If you are lucky enough to have one, your dermatologist is a great resource that should be able to tell you if your new prescription will cause your skin to purge.
  • Check your ingredients. Here’s the truth. Skin purges not because all the gunk in your pores is rising to the top, but because chemical exfoliants are causing your skin to shed faster and then stuff underneath to pop up faster.
    • Ingredients that Make Your Skin Purge: AHAS, BHAs, and retinoids commonly cause skin to purge. Salicylic acid is a very common purger.
    • Things that Probably Aren’t Making Your Skin Purge: That new moisturizer or foundation. Toner is an interesting one. Many toners contain salicylic acid which can cause skin to purge, but many others contain alcohol, which can actually make acne prone skin break out more.
  • Check you breakouts. Tiny whiteheads are more common during purging than fat cystic acne.

So that’s it for my tips. Has your skin ever purged? Do you hate it? Let me know in the comments below.


30 thoughts on “Am I Purging Or Breaking Out?

  1. I just bought the garnier Micellar water and since using that my chin has gone crazy with those tiny whiteheads and some larger spots. It’s the only thing that’s any different with my skin routine and it’s not ‘that time of the month’ so it’s not a hormonal breakout. Will it get better? Or should I swap back to my old Micellar water?

    • I’m not a dermatologist (obviously), but I would switch back to your old water. Nothing in micellar water that I know of should make your skin puge

      • Thats what I thought. I never really suffer with breakouts but at the minute it’s not looking good ): Shame because its really good at taking off makeup! Back to L’oreal I go then. Thanks for your advice.

  2. I have a friend that has a severe acne problems but she found some resolution with home made toners and masks that are working miracles. She had a very intense purging for half a month and it was terrible, seemed like her skin was trying to push every little piece of trash out through the pores, and she was feeling a whole lotta crappy. But after that her skin became just perfect (as much as a person that used to have severe acne can have a perfect skin) – no more fat cyctic pimples, no more irritated skin, no more wide pores. I asked for her recipe about a toner she was making, it was quite simple yet very effective, tried it myself – part camphor spirit, part rose water, part 3% hydrogen peroxide.

  3. I can tell by long the spots take to heal up: a week or longer – regular breakout; two days – caused by new magical serum. since as you say the spots themselves aren’t caused by the product, the amount I get does not change, but since they heal up faster it looks like I have less. 🙂

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  6. Does purging mean small annoying bumps that make your face look uneven and rubbish with make up on? I’m trying so hard to have baby smooth skin. I used Garnier pure active scrub for exfoliating and to stop breakouts and blackheads, and just started Loreal skin perfection serum as im now getting to my mid 20’s and apparently super serum needs to be used to stop ageing and uneven skin tine/redness etc. I never moisturise as it causes too many breakouts and my skin is not dry anyway. So hopefully this Loreal skin perfection serum will

    • Purging can cause bumps like that. Mostly purging is when the acne under your skin (which you can’t see, because it hasn’t come to the surface) gets pushed to the surface because of an acne product that you’re using. So yes, you could definitely be purging

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