Skin Purging or Just Breaking Out? Here’s How to Tell!

Is your skin giving you a little trouble lately?

If the answer is yes, and you’ve started using a new product/skincare line, then you need to keep reading. When beginning a new skincare regimen, you may experience breakouts or irritation within the first few days of product use. While there are a number of factors that can cause breakouts, it’s possible you could be experiencing what’s known as skin purging or acne purging. In this article, we’ll walk you through the acne purging process so you can better understand why your skin is breaking out— and how you can fix it.


What is Skin Purging?

If you have switched to an all-natural or organic skincare line targeted towards clearing up your skin, and you notice annoying pimples rearing their heads, then it’s likely your skin is going through something we like to call a ‘purge’. Sounds pretty scary, but it’s actually a pretty common, completely natural occurrence, and should clear up in no time at all. 


In a nutshell, a skin purge is simply a “skin detox.” To help you better understand the concept of an acne purge, let’s look at an example of a body detox: When you cut toxins and processed foods from your diet and switch to natural, whole and organic foods, you will first feel worse before you start feeling better. All those toxins from unnatural foods you ate for years will start to float around your bloodstream, causing horrible symptoms such as fatigue, irritability and even mild depression. As these toxins make their way out of your system, the nutrient and antioxidant-rich foods you have replaced them with will take their place and start to rev up your energy levels, boost your immune system and leave you feeling healthier than ever before.

When it comes to skin purging, it’s the same concept. Many conventional skincare products work to simply cover up any skin issues without getting to the root of the problem. When you lather your skin with nutrient-rich, rejuvenating properties, these ingredients will sink deep into your pores, flushing out any toxins under the surface of your skin. Thus, when you begin a new skincare regimen, you might notice more pimples initially, but these are simply toxins that have made their way to the surface.


What Products Cause a Skin Purge?

Skin purging is also more common with products aimed towards clearing acne-prone skin, such as our Detox Mask since it is a fairly intense pore-cleansing exfoliation. Similarly, our Soothing Mask exfoliates and cleanses while loading your skin up with yummy antioxidants. The Detoxifying Mask uses a special blend of clays to naturally pull dirt and toxins out from deep within your pores. Long-term, this is amazing for preventing clogged pores and breakouts, leaving your skin smooth and clear. When the Detox Mask first starts working it’s magic, however, the toxins in and under your skin are going to be pulled out and may manifest as blemishes. This simply means the pimples that were lurking beneath the skin, ready to make themselves known, will appear a lot faster once you speed up the cleansing process.

To understand this, we need to talk about how a pimple forms: When dead skin cells, oil, or dirt clog a pore, the pore forms a microcomedone, AKA a sticky plug under the skin that will eventually become acne. Normally, it can take anywhere from a few days to several weeks for a clogged pore to surface as a pimple. Products that physically or chemically exfoliate your skin — that can be direct acids or serums — speed up the cell turnover process, meaning they speed up the process of a microcomedone manifesting as a pimple. TRANSLATION: Any product that physically or chemically exfoliates your skin has the potential to cause skin purging when you first start using them. Using serums with retinoids or chemical exfoliants like Alpha Hydroxy Acids (glycolic, lactic, or citric acids) or Beta Hydroxy Acids (salicylic acids) can lead to initial skin purging.

The good news, however, is that the purging effect on skin is temporary. Once these pimples have cleared up, your skin will look healthier and clearer than ever.


The Difference Between Skin Purging and Breaking Out

Before you start to panic, keep in mind that any pimples that seem to “pop out of nowhere” when you start using new skincare products are normal, and once they clear up, they should stay away as long as you continue to use the products. This is the biggest difference between skin purging and breakouts. Breakouts are blemishes that recur on a regular basis, and are a result of hormonal changes, stress, poor diet, etc. These can be treated by a blemish serum. At first glance, it’s going to be difficult to tell the difference between purge acne and breakout acne, because — well — they’re both acne. However, purge acne will typically occur shortly after beginning a new product and will gradually improve with continued use. Another thing to take note of is that pimples that arise from skin purging will appear in areas where you tend to be oilier, or where you have clogged pores, (i.e., your nose). These new products are simply clearing out dirt and bacteria and paving the way for clear, glowing skin.


The Difference Between a Skin Purge and a Skin Reaction

It’s important to make sure, when beginning a new skincare regimen, that your skin does not have a negative reaction to the products. A skin reaction is different from normal breakouts because it will come as a direct result of using a certain product or ingredient. Unlike skin purging, which is a temporary skin detox, a skin reaction means your skin is sensitive or allergic to ingredients in the product you’re using.

If your skin looks red and irritated beyond “normal” looking blemishes or pimples, you are likely having a skin reaction and should stop using the product immediately. If your blemishes continue for several weeks after starting product use, it’s also likely a skin reaction and you should stop using the product immediately.

Why Ingredients Matter

We want you to be empowered to understand what is happening to your skin and why. The best way to stay educated about your skincare is to understand what you’re actually putting on it. Before beginning a new skincare regimen, look at the ingredients lists and do your research if you’re not sure what certain ingredients do. If the ingredients encourage cell turnover (exfoliants, hydroxy acids, vitamin c, retinoids, benzoyl peroxide) you’re more likely to encounter skin purging.

Choosing organic skincare products with short, natural ingredient lists will help reduce the risk of skin reactions and, over time, prevent nasty breakouts.

How Long Will it Last?

Pimples from skin purging shouldn’t hang around for longer than a month, but it’s crucial you make this skincare regimen your new norm. Even though your skin probably seems to be breaking out worse than before, stick with it because it’s the continuous use of the products that’s going to ensure your skin clears up and results in the healthy, beautiful glow you’ve been searching for.

We hope this helps to clear things up a little for you (see what we did there!) Being informed before starting a new skincare regimen will help keep you calm if any pimples occur, and trust us when we say the results will be totally worth it in the end.