Have you ever started using a new product that’s supposed to help reduce blemishes only to find that your skin immediately gets worse? You may assume that the product doesn’t work (or doesn’t work for you), or you may worry that you could be having a bad reaction to one of its ingredients. But there may be something different happening: purging.
What Is Purging?
“Purging” may sound extreme, but the concept is pretty simple. Products that cause you to slough off dead skin faster, like retinoids or hydroxy acids, lead to increased skin cell turnover. As this happens, the old, dead cells and other microscopic dirt and grime make their way to the surface and out of your life forever. Unfortunately, some of this stuff can get stuck in your pores on its way out, forming a microcomedone: a plug of gunk that eventually becomes a whitehead, blackhead, papule, pustule, or cyst.
But take heart! As your skin continues the detox process, the initial round of breakouts should clear up quickly. Ultimately, your skin should look clearer, smoother, and younger as it adjusts to the products. (Tip: Make sure you use sun protection when using products like alpha-hydroxy acids because this new, fresh skin can be more susceptible to sunburn and sun damage!)
Purging vs. Problems
It can be difficult to tell whether your skin is having a bad reaction to a product or going through a beneficial purging cycle. Breakouts in places you don’t normally have them can indicate your skin is having an adverse reaction rather than a purge; other signs that you may be allergic to or intolerant of a product are redness, overall irritation, inflammation, itch, rash, burning, or blistering. If these occur, you should stop using a product.
No two people’s skin issues are the same, and no product will work for everybody. However, it’s important to give a product enough time to work before you abandon it as a failure. Fortunately, if your skin is going through a purge, your breakouts should subside more quickly than normal and reveal clearer, healthier skin. If you are still seeing significant skin issues more than four to six weeks after beginning to use a new product, it’s probably not a purge.
Love the Skin You’re In
Treating significant, long-lasting breakouts, acne, and other facial irritation can involve experimenting with a number of different products and customizing a treatment regimen precisely to your needs. Working with a dedicated medical skin care professional who knows and understands your concerns and your skin’s unique characteristics can help you look and feel your best. Visit the skin wellness center at Urban Effects MedSpa in Urbandale, Iowa, for a consultation. Our friendly, knowledgeable consultants can help you find the products and skin care services that are perfect to bring out the best in your skin—even if there are some purges along the way! Contact us today to set up an appointment.