Have you ever started using a new product, only to watch your skin completely freak out just days after? We’re talking random pimples, incessant irritation, and other complexion crises that feel as though they’ll never end. Oftentimes, this is referred to as “skin purging.” It’s not necessarily a bad reaction, but perhaps the product is working so well that it’s literally pushing all of the gunk out from under your skin.
Seems almost too good to be true, right (especially when it lasts more than a few days)? Well, we’ve got good and bad news. The good? Skin purging is an actual thing; as in there’s definitely some good stuff happening when your skin mixes well with a product. The downside? There’s not much you can do to speed up the process once it starts, and some are more prone to it than others. Ahead, medical aesthetician Holly Cutler, also known as “The Skin Saint,” shares the CliffsNotes you need to have a better understanding of exactly what’s happening.
What Is Skin Purging?
Cutler says “skin purging is commonly known as the adjustment period when your skin gets temporarily worse from using a new product, before it gets better and clearer.” Essentially, what’s happening is the product is purging the clogged pores and cleaning them out, rather than “detoxing.” The latter is something that usually happens through the liver and kidneys; not visibly on your face.
Is It the Same as a Breakout?
Simply put, “a purge is different than a breakout, as it is usually comedones underneath the skin that are finally moving toward the surface from products that increase cell turnover, such as glycolic acid, retinoids and salicylic acid,” says Cutler. Comedones are those small bumps or clogged pore in the skin. In other words, your skin is going through a purification process.
On the other hand, if you’re not using cell-turnover products (products that exfoliate), and start getting breakouts in places you never did before or have any allergic or irritated skin reaction, it’s more likely to be a breakout.
How Long Should It Last?
Although both processes are definitely temporary, a skin purge is usually around one to two months in duration, whereas breakouts have the potential to last way longer if you’re not taking care of them. In the case of purging, Cutler says there is no real way to speed up the process.
“Increased cell turnover (metabolism) is already speeding things up in the skin, so continuing to use the products and not get discouraged is the best remedy,” she says. “If on an internal cleanse, it’s best to consult with a naturopathic doctor on how to properly cleanse, as many people don’t do it properly, and they can create more havoc on the body and skin if not guided.”
Who’s More Prone to Skin Purging?
Unfortunately, not all of our skin experiences are created equal. Skin purging is more likely to occur in those who are more prone to breakouts in the first place, or someone going through an internal detoxification process such as diet or lifestyle change.
Do Toxins Escape Through Sweat?
Skin is a living, breathing organ, so, yes, it’s capable of cleaning itself out. When you sweat, however, only a very small amount of that is toxicants, while most of it is water. For that reason, beauty innovation has evolved to include procedures and treatments that up the ante and directly target toxins underneath the skin. For instance, Cutler cites infrared therapy as particularly effective.
“When skin is exposed to Solocarbon Full Spectrum (an advanced blend of near, mid and far infrared heat), the detox is seven to 10 times greater than a conventional sauna,” she says. “In a conventional sauna, the average person sweats out 3 percent toxicants and 97 percent water. With the Solocarbon (by Sunlighten), the average person sweats out 20 percent toxicants and 80 percent water.”