Reader Question: Is my new skincare making my skin purge or am I breaking out for real?

Hello Project Vanity readers! I'm really curious about skin purging. Is it really true, or is it just a hoax? I'm trying out a new skin care regimen, but I'm breaking out. When I asked a representative of the product, she said that I was just experiencing "skin purging", and that my pimples are coming out now but it will discontinue later as my skin adjusts. How do you know if you are actually skin reactive to the product, or just purging? Hope you can help me on this one! Thanks. - Beth

Hi Beth! This is a very useful question. I checked out the topic online and yes, skin "purges" (and this is only in a figurative sense okay) when we use new skincare (especially those for curing acne). Certain active ingredients like retinoids or a new exfoliating regimen can cause deep-seated dirt, dead skin, and oil to rise to the surface of the skin. So you get pimples. It's the only way for all that junk to get out of your pores.

Sometimes, your skin simply adjusts to the new ingredients in your new skincare. You're basically shocking your skin into accepting these alien ingredients, which is why it's okay to cut your new products some a certain degree, that is.

I've tried A LOT of products since I started beauty blogging, and here's what I've experienced: a product is fine for me if I just break out for one week. If my skin is already healing by the second week then it just did the "purge". But if I'm still getting new pimples by the second week then it means that I'm reacting to an ingredient in the product. I promptly stop using by then! Doesn't matter how many times I try, I would still break out.  

There are some products that give me a pimple or two within 5-10 minutes of my first use. This means that my skin is irritated by something in the product for sure. The best way to find out is to do a patch test but yes this can be quite costly!

To summarize: purging for a few days up to a week is okay. More than that and there is an irritant in your new skincare! In my experience anyway. It's best to see a dermatologist for a patch test or just for a general consultation about products that will suit you.

To know more about allergic reactions, check out this awesome set of articles from VMV Hypoallergenics. This explains the difference between an irritant reaction and an allergic reaction. :) Hope this helps!