What’s the difference between purging and a bad reaction?
Have you ever been really excited to reveal how a new product has transformed your skin only to look in the mirror and be greeted by a breakout? Well, don’t toss that product just yet because sometimes a breakout is a sign that the product is doing exactly what it’s supposed to do. But other times, a breakout means that product isn’t right for your skin. I’m talking about the difference between purging and having a bad reaction to a product.
Purging is the result of introducing a product that speeds up the turnover rate of skin cells and therefore speeds up the acne life cycle, bringing all kinds of yet-to-surface blackheads, whiteheads, and pimples to your skin’s surface more quickly.
WHAT’S A BAD REACTION?
A bad reaction occurs when your skin doesn’t agree with a product for a number of reasons. Another possibility is that you’re having an allergic reaction to one of the ingredients and your skin is responding with inflammation which causes acne to surface. It’s also possible that the product you’re using is just simply too harsh for your skin so it’s freaking out and producing more oils to protect itself which exacerbates acne. No matter the cause of the reaction, if you’ve determined this is the reason for your breakout then it’s sadly time to say goodbye to your new product.
HOW DO I KNOW IF I’M PURGING OR HAVING A BAD REACTION?
To figure out if your skin is purging, you first need to find out if the product that’s causing you trouble contains active ingredients. Active ingredients are the only ingredients that can cause purging because they have properties that increase cell turnover. The following active exfoliating ingredients cause purging:
- Alpha Hydroxy Acids Beta Hydroxy Acids (salicylic)
- Poly Hydroxy Acids
- Vitamin C
- Benzoyl Peroxide
HOW LONG IS THE PURGE?
Purging should only last for about a month, since that’s the length of time it take for your skin to completely renew itself.
HOW CAN I REDUCE THE SEVERITY OF A PURGE?
If you’re about to start a new product with an ingredient that can cause purging and you want to limit the severity of a purge, there’s some evidence that introducing the new product slowly can help. This means starting at a lower concentration, starting at a smaller amount, and/or using it less frequently.
Helping your skin function at its best will also reduce irritation and speed recovery: ensuring that your skin stays hydrated with the use of humectant moisturisers and moisturisers in general, using a gentle cleansing routine, using anti-irritant or antiinflammatory products and protecting your skin from the sun.