Skin Purging (ugh)…when those pesky blackheads and pimples pop up after starting the use of a new skincare product with retinol or AHA/BHA (alpha hydroxy acid/beta hydroxy acid). Never fun, but luckily there are ways to minimize a purge.
Below, internationally renowned, board-certified cosmetic dermatologist Dr. Karyn Grossman breaks it all down, and offers tips and tricks for skin purge survival!
1. What is skin purging?
Skin purging may happen when starting a new skincare product or treatment which contains an active ingredient/exfoliant that increases cell turnover. This typically occurs from the addition of retinoids – Differin, Retin A, or retinol, although it may also occur with AHA’s and BHA’s.
All those clogged pores lurking under the skin (called microcomedones) make their way to the surface, coming out as acne breakouts, blackheads or whiteheads. Purging is really an accelerated rate of exfoliation brought on by an active ingredient that’s doing its job. Basically it’s evidence that your skincare product is working by getting all the gunk out of the skin at a faster rate.
It typically lasts about 4-6 weeks and happens in areas that are already prone to acne. Unfortunately, you need to just wait and get through this purging phase. After your skin builds up some immunity, the acne breakouts subside and your skin starts getting better. This can also happen when people start Accutane treatment for severe acne.
2. How do I know if my breakouts are because of a skin “purge” or if it’s because a new product I’ve introduced is irritating my skin?
There are some products that could actually aggravate your underlying acne and in this case, the redness/irritation is likely because of your skin rejecting the product.
If your breakouts last longer than 2 months and occur in new areas where you never get breakouts, the new acne is probably not from purging. To tell the difference between a skin purge and an actual this-product-is-messing-up my skin breakout, here is what you need to be looking out for.
3. How should I introduce a new product to my regimen without developing a pizza face?
Introducing a product more slowly can sometimes help to decrease purging.
4. Why is Fall a good time of the year to introduce a new active ingredient like retinol?
It’s a good idea to start retinoids in the Fall when the UV index drops because using these products increase your skin’s sensitivity to the sun.
5. What are some things to keep in mind while beginning use of a new product like a retinol or AHA/BHA?
Go slowly – both of these products can cause dryness or irritation – so starting every other day and gradually working your way up will help to minimize any irritation. And, don’t forget your daily SPF – rain or shine!
New to retinol but ready to give it a try this Fall?? KARYNG’s Retinol Renewing Serum ($95) contains an enhanced delivery system, that stabilizes the retinol and significantly reduces skin irritation associated with the wrinkle-fighting Vitamin A compound. It helps to erase fine lines, reduce the appearance of pores, and create a flawless and even-toned complexion.