It seems like it’s an endless cycle.. Girl sees skincare, girl buys skincare, skincare leads to a massive breakout. But what if all this time you weren’t actually breaking out and your skin was just purging? Here’s what to look for to find out.


If you pay close attention to your skin, you’ll notice it always asks you for exactly what it needs – moisturizer, a gentle cleanser, a detox mask. This rule also applies to trying out new skincare products. Breakouts are caused by bacteria and pores that are clogged by dead skin cells. The bacteria gets trapped in the pores and triggers an immune response, causing a flare up and angry, red blemishes. 


Purging refers to blemishes caused by an increase in cell-turnover to remove dead skin cells, which, incidentally, also produces flare ups and blemishes. The difference with purging is that it usually will last 6-8 weeks before your skin returns to normal. Think of this process as an accelerated shedding process that pulls up all of the gunk currently trapped in your pores. 

How to tell the difference 

Purging pulls up what already exists deep below the surface. If you begin breaking out in areas that you’ve never had blemishes in before, it’s likely that it’s a breakout, not a skin purge. Purge blemishes are also somewhat mild, existing just below the surface of the skin while blemishes caused from breakouts are categorized as cysts, nodules and pustules that are rooted deep beneath the surface. 

Pay attention to the time frame in which you’ve implemented a new skincare product to your routine as well as the ingredients it contains. Look for products that are non-comedogenic (won’t clog pores) and be sure to always do a patch test before using across the entire face!


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