by Chok Chok Diaries August 17, 2017

How often have you been super excited about this awesome skincare product you've been reading rave reviews about and you finally decide to go out and buy it. You put it on and boom: you begin to see a bunch of pimples popping out of nowhere. 

Before you decide to throw out that expensive jar or bottle or write a poor review, hang on for just a second and think about whether your skin is actually reacting to the product or is it purging.

Purging is a period where your skin is just adjusting to the new products. In this case, you have to persevere to see the true results and the fact that you see pimples on your face only means that the product is working.

A reaction, on the other hand, is a breakout caused by irritation, an allergy, or sensitivity to ingredients. In this case, you probably want to stop using the item right away. 

How do you tell the difference though? You don't want to throw away that $50 bottle of serum you just bought but you don't want to be covered in rashes and end up with blotchy skin either. In order to understand the difference between breakouts and purging, we first have to understand how they both occur.

Let's start from the start: the formation of a pimple. At the root of a pimple is a bunch of dead skin cells that never surfaced properly and as a result, you ended up with a clogged pore. These are called microcomedones. They aren't visible from the surface of your skin and often, they can develop into whiteheads, blackheads, pimples and in some cases, cysts. They can take up to 8 weeks to come to the surface.

In the case of purging, if you start using a product that increases the rate of cell-turnover, which is basically how quickly skin cells are shed and replaced, this automatically speeds up the entire process of microcomedones coming to the surface, and you end up seeing a bunch of whiteheads, blackheads, pimples or even cysts quicker. 

The first way to tell if your skin is purging or reacting is to check if the product has any active ingredients, which increase the rate of skin cell turnover. A few examples of these ingredients are:

  • Retinoids (retinol, tretinoin, adapalene, tazarotene, isotretinoin, retinyl palmitate)
  • Chemical peels, lasers, microdermabrasion
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid, sodium/magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, ascorbyl palmitate)
  • Hydroxy acids (glycolic, lactic, malic, mandelic, salicylic, lactobionic acids)
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Other kinds of exfoliants, such as scrubs etc.

If you're using a normal moisturizer or a cleanser that doesn't contain any of the above ingredients, then your skin definitely isn't purging.

Another question you can ask yourself is where are the breakouts happening? If you're breaking out in new places, thats usually a good thing. And finally, you want to see how long you've been breaking out for. Skin normally renews itself once a month so if you still see breakouts 6-8 weeks later, your skin isn't purging. It's finally time to look for something else that would suit your skin better.

Chok Chok Diaries
Chok Chok Diaries


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