What’s the difference between Skin purging and Breaking out?

What Is The Difference Between Purging and A Breakout | Purging vs Breakout 

There is always some slight confusion over what is a breakout and what is a purge. So we are here to put this confusion to bed and explain exactly which is which. Keep reading on if you want to find out!

What Is Skin Purging?

The term ‘skin purging’ refers to a reaction to an active ingredient that is increasing skin cell turnover rate. As skin cell turnover speeds up, the skin starts shedding dead skin cells faster than normal. The good news about purging is that it’s temporary, the side effects are shorter than your standard breakout, and it’s ultimately a sign that the products you just introduced to your face are working. So, it could actually be a good thing!

Lady with Acne

What Causes Skin Purging?

Skin purging occurs when you start using a new product that contains chemical exfoliants such as alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA’s), beta-hydroxy acids (BHA’s), and retinoids, all of which speed up the rate of skin cell turnover. Other products that contain benzoyl peroxide, lactic acid, retinyl palmitate, retinol, tazarotene, vitamin c, glycolic acid and salicylic acid also cause skin purging.

What Does Skin Purging Look Like?

Purging breakouts look like tiny, red bumps on the skin that are painful when touched. Often, there may be whiteheads and blackheads that appear along with the bumps.It can also cause your skin to become flaky. The flare ups caused by purging have a shorter lifespan than a breakout.

Person applying skincare product to face

How Long Is The Purge?

Everyone’s skin is different so the time frame may differ from person to person. However, purging typically lasts between 4-6 weeks as it will only take one full skin cycle (28 days) to get through the worst of it. If your purge last longer than 6 weeks then you may need to speak to a professional or see your GP. You can book an online skincare consultation with our GlowBay expert if you have any concerns.

What To Do If Your Skin Is Purging?

Be gentle and stick to the basics. A simple cleanser such as DermaQuest Essential Daily Cleanser, moisturiser such as DermaQuest Essential moisturiser and SPF such as DermaQuest Sheer Zinc SPF 30 for the day time and cleanser, moisturiser and night cream such as DermaQuest Nourishing Peptide Rich for the evening.

Other things to try:

  • Keep soaps, exfoliants and products with harsh chemicals away from it to prevent further irritation.
  • Try to not go outdoors during peak sun time to protect your skin from the UV rays. If you must step out, use an effective, non-greasy sunscreen.
  • Avoid the use of any products that can dry your skin further.
  • You should not use other skincare products when your skin is getting used to a new product that has caused purging.

What Is A Skin Breakout?

Breakouts most often appear where our skin has the most oil glands. That means on the face, chest, and even upper back and shoulders. During a breakout or an acne flare, the hair follicle fills with dead skin cells, sebum (oil), and sometimes bacteria.

What Causes A Skin Breakout?

There are lots of different causes of acne breakouts but thankfully there are ways of preventing them.

Some of them include:

  • Stress
  • Diet
  • Dehydration
  • Smoking
  • Insufficient sleep
  • Certain skincare products

Managing these may help improve your skin and prevent breakouts. Ultimately, acne is caused when tiny holes in the skin, known as hair follicles, become blocked. If the plugged follicle is close to the surface of the skin, it bulges outwards, creating a whitehead. Alternatively, the plugged follicle can be open to the skin, creating a blackhead.

How To Tell If It’s Purging Or A Breakout?

If you’re seeing breakouts or dryness in an area of your face where you don’t normally break out, it’s probably a response to a new product you’re using. Purging will occur in a more defined area where you frequently breakout. Whereas a breakout will happen in a new area where you don’t usually break out.

What Should You Do If You Have A Skin Breakout?

These self-help techniques may be useful:

  • Do not wash affected areas of skin more than twice a day. Frequent washing can irritate the skin and make symptoms worse.
  • Wash the affected area with a mild soap or cleanser and lukewarm water. Very hot or cold water can make acne worse.
  • Do not try to "clean out" blackheads or squeeze spots. This can make them worse and cause permanent scarring.
  • Avoid using too much make-up and cosmetics. Use water-based products that are described as non-comedogenic. This means the product is less likely to block the pores in your skin.
  • Completely remove make-up before going to bed.
  • If dry skin is a problem, use a fragrance-free water-based emollient.
  • Regular exercise cannot improve your acne, but it can boost your mood and improve your self-esteem. Shower as soon as possible once you finish exercising as sweat can irritate your acne.
  • Wash your hair regularly and try to avoid letting your hair fall across your face.

If breakouts persist, you may need to speak to a skincare professional. Booking an online skin consultation with our GlowBay specialist could get you on the right track to clear, healthy skin!

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