You buy skincare products, you incorporate them into your routine and you get pimples, is it a purge or acne?
Your skin can tell you many things. It may yell at you that it wants you to pamper it with a mask, or that it needs a few drops of a moisturizing serum, or that you please touch up your sunscreen more often. It is always communicating with you. The tricky thing here is learning to listen to it. And one of the hardest signs to tell is if your skin is purging or if you're just getting pimples.
Let's be honest. There is nothing more frustrating than using a new product that should make all your problems go away but instead just makes things worse. An anti-acne treatment that gets you pimples? No way!
This is called purging. And it's perfectly normal.
A purge is very different from an acne breakout. The main difference is that purges can be good for your skin, while a reactive breakout is never good news.
Let's start by explaining the main thing…
How is granite formed?
It all starts with a clogged pore. It is generally filled with dead cells, which are shed from the skin but do not reach the surface, forming what is known as a "microcomedone". Microcomedones are invisible “blemishes” (since they are subcutaneous) that have the potential to turn into a blackhead, pimple, cyst, or even vanish into nothing. It takes about 8 weeks for a microcomedone to reach the surface (if at all).
All pimples (or microcomedones), regardless of whether they are from acne or purging, occur in the deeper layers of the skin.
Why do pimples appear when using a new product?
This can be confusing and frustrating, especially if the product you bought is anti-acne.
Purges often occur when you include products that contain hydroxy acids (like AHA/BHA) and retinol. Because these ingredients and products are often exfoliating, they speed up cell renewal, bringing all the clogged pores to the surface and causing the dreaded pimples and blackheads.
A purge causes all the "coming in" pimples to immediately rise to the surface. They are microcomedones that you already had on your skin and that were going to come out anyway, sooner or later. The only thing the purge did was make them come off faster by speeding up the renewal cycle of your skin cells.
How to know if it is a purge or acne?
If your skin is purging, it may be beneficial in the long run to continue treatment as the pimples will disappear. This is because you are deep cleansing the skin, doing exactly what the product is supposed to do: exfoliate and clear clogged pores. And if it is an anti-acne treatment, this is precisely what will prevent you from having pimples later. It's kind of like cleaning the pipes.
This means that in the long term, they more efficiently remove dead skin cells, preventing us from having black and clogged pores (and ultimately, pimples and acne). But in the short term, it may be that this acceleration in the shedding of dead cells causes more blackheads and pimples … which will fade when the purge is over.
But if, on the other hand, you are having acne problems or the irritation is not going away, it means that your skin is having a negative reaction to the product and its use should be stopped.
In the end, granite is granite. Being a purge or reactive does not take away the ugly. But some basic differences will help you understand more deeply why purges are good: