Skin Purging

Skin Purging refers to a skin reaction to an active ingredient that is increasing skin cell turnover rate, when the skin starts metabolizing cells and shedding dead skin cells much faster than normal, so fast that it induces a skin response to push closed comedones to the surface. 


These reactions eventually lead to the fresh skin cells underneath and reveal clarified and de-congested skin.

Before these new, healthy cells can cycle to the surface, some other stuff has to rise to the top first, like the excess sebum, flakes, and buildup that clog pores, hence the term Purge.  


How does purge happen? 


Purge happens when active ingredients are used, often on congested skin types. Ingredients that can cause a purge include 


Retinoic Acids (Retinol, Retinal, Tretinoin etc)

Alpha Hydroxy Acids (Glycolic, Lactic acids etc)

Beta Hydroxy Acids (Salicylic Acids)

Dicarboxylic Acid (Azelaic Acid)

Benzoyl Peroxide


Can you avoid purging ? 


As everyone’s skin reacts differently, it is hard to predict a purging. However, starting gentle with mild low concentrated actives could tone the skin up to get used to the accelerated cell turnover rate and shed gradually. It may take a bit longer to see the results, but it could prevent drastic cellular renewal that leads to a purge. 


Types of Purging 


All forms of pimples. 

It could look like a normal breakout. 

It may look different from person to person.

A mix of whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules, cysts, and the tiny unnoticed ‘pre-pimples’ called microcomedones.”


Dry, peeling skin is also common as the dead skin sheds rapidly. 


What should you do if your skin is purging?


Treat it as a normal breakout. Be gentle on the skin, wash with a sulfate free cleanser. It is usually recommended to keep using the active ingredients that induced the purge. Avoid new aggressive active ingredients that the skin isn’t tuned in to. 

Consult with an accredited skin consultant about your conditions.