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Skin Purging vs Breakouts: How to Tell the Difference and What You Can Do to Get Clear Again

It can be a good sign or a bad sign.
Skin purging vs breakout

When you start adding new products to your skincare routine, it's not always smooth sailing. Sometimes, they can trigger acne—but there are "good" breakouts and there are "bad" breakouts.

The good kind are known as skin purging or an initial breakout, and it's worth going through the process because you'll end up with clearer skin.

The bad kind are just ordinary breakouts, and they won't get any better unless you change up your routine.

But how do you tell the difference? In this tutorial, you will learn what causes skin purging, how long it lasts, how to know if your skin is purging or breaking out, and what you can do to speed up the process.

What Is Skin Purging?

Skin purging is an initial bout of acne that can occur when you start using a new, active skincare product that increases your cell turnover.

Certain topical ingredients, such as acids and retinoids, make you shed dead skin cells at a faster rate than normal. This helps to loosen any sebum and debris that are trapped below the skin, inside your pores, and bring them up to the surface.

Normally, it can take weeks—even months—for these pre-existing microcomedones to manifest as visible breakouts. But when you speed up cell turnover, it accelerates this process, causing the blemishes to appear all at once. 

Seeing a bunch of pimples can definitely be alarming, but it's actually a positive thing for your skin to purge. It means that the product is doing its job, and your skin will become much clearer for it. 

What Causes Skin Purging?

Skin purging vs breakout