Is My Skin Purging Or Am I Breaking Out?


If you’ve recently switched up your skincare routine and you’re noticing something that looks like a breakout, you might be a little shaken. Great skincare shouldn’t cause breakouts – it should prevent them. You may have also heard that what appears to be a breakout is actually a perfectly normal reaction called purging and that you should keep using your current skincare products.

Purging and breakouts can look very similar, and it’s important to know how to tell them apart. Purging is a sign that your skincare is working, and breakouts are a sign that you’re using the wrong products. Here’s how to understand what your skin is telling you.

What Happens When Your Skin Is Purging?

Purging is a result of your skincare products doing what they’re designed to do. Not everyone will experience purging when they switch skincare products. It all depends on the condition of your skin when you start your new skincare routine and your general skin type.

Skincare products work to remove dead skin cells and clear debris from your pores. As they work, you might notice that gunk or dirt from your pores is attempting to make its way out through the surface of your skin. You may see dry or flaky patches starting to peel off in areas of your skin that were once deeply parched.

Although skin purging may not be aesthetically pleasing, it’s a good sign. It’s an indication that your skin is returning to a state of balance. As the purging phase ends, your skin will be in better condition than it was before you began your new skincare routine.

What Happens When You Break Out?

Breakouts are a sign that something is wrong with your skin. You may experience pimples with white heads, pimples that appear more like red swollen lumps, or blackheads. Breakouts can be related to the accumulation of debris within your skin, an excess of bad bacteria on the surface of the skin, an excess of natural oil production, or even your body’s natural hormone balance.

Breakouts can sometimes happen after introducing a new product into your routine, especially if the product contains ingredients you’ve never used before or irritating ingredients like synthetic fragrance. Many people find that makeup is often the culprit for their breakouts, especially if they don’t wash it off thoroughly at the end of the day.

How To Tell The Difference Between Skin Purging And Breaking Out

Purging and minor breakouts can look very similar. Consider how your skin usually behaves and pay attention to what your skin is trying to tell you. Context can give you all the clues you need to find the answer.

What Area Is Affected?

Your skin is most likely to purge in areas of your face where you normally break out. Those areas are more likely to accumulate debris, dead skin, or bacteria. Your skincare may be drawing it out to the surface, allowing your skin to be free and clear once the purging phase is over.

If you’re noticing what appears to be a breakout on areas of your face where you don’t normally break out, you could be experiencing a negative reaction to your skincare products. Purging doesn’t cause new problem areas to appear. The spots are usually smaller and localized to areas that are already problematic. They won’t spread out across your face.

If you may be experiencing a negative reaction, stop using your new skincare products immediately. If you had a soothing regimen that worked for your skin in the past, you may resume using those products. Avoid using harsh soaps on your face and don’t use skincare products with artificial fragrances.

How Severe Is The Situation?

Purging is usually less severe than a breakout. Spots will be smaller. They usually won’t ooze or leak as a breakout might. Most purging looks like minor irritation and wouldn’t be noticeable from a distance.

Is It Getting Better Or Worse?

Purging will clear up on its own. A few days after it appears, you should already see indications that it’s on its way out. Breakouts are different. They usually continue to worsen until they’re properly treated with at-home acne management products or by a dermatologist.

If the situation seems to be getting worse instead of better, stop using your new skincare products and give your dermatologist a call. If your dermatologist already recommended a breakout management regimen, go back to that routine if the products you have aren’t expired.

How To Care For Skin During A Purging Phase

You may be tempted to pop or pick at your skin during a purging phase, but you shouldn’t. Continue to use your skincare products exactly the way they were intended to be used. The purging phase should resolve on its own.

It takes your skin about a month to adapt to a new skincare routine. Ride it out. By the end of that period, your skin will have shed all the old cells and freed itself from trapped debris in your pores. Once you’re through the phase, it won’t begin again if you remain consistent with your skincare routine. Your skin will continue to get better with time and maintain a healthy balance.

How To Care For Skin During A Breakout

If you routinely experience severe breakouts, you need an effective acne management solution. If you occasionally experience mild to moderate breakouts, your esthetician may be able to recommend skincare products designed to gently combat breakouts. You may want to switch routines to incorporate more of these products.

Resist the urge to pop pimples and always wash your hands before touching your phase. Take a break from face makeup if you wear face makeup, as the ingredients can be irritating or trap bacteria that may cause your breakout to worsen.

Is It Time To Change Your Skincare Routine?

If you need a skincare routine that gently addresses all of your skin’s needs, book a facial with Greentoes in Tucson. Our estheticians can assess your skin and help you find the right routine for your skin’s unique needs.

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Tucson, AZ 85705

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615 W Roller Coaster Rd
Tucson, AZ 85704

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