Even thought we know it SUCKS, skin purging is quite common and normal in fact! I am sure some of you are hearing this term for the first time so we are here to help you determine what a purge is, how to know if you are purging and how long to expect a purge to last when it happens.  

Lets start here - What is skin purging?

Skin purging essentially means getting through the bad before the good. Purging in relation to acne products means going through a temporary 'flare up' before the products actually start to work well on your skin 😬

It's easy to assume that this means your new products aren’t working, because at the end of the day we are trying to prevent acne, not induce it! But don't be concerned besties, purging is a regular and a normal occurrence that does not stay around forever! It is actually a sign that your products are working, because they are increasing the rate at which your skin is turning over its cells, but we will get into that part next...

Why does this happen?

Skin purging occurs because newly introduced skincare ingredients increase the rate at which your skin cells turnover, causing you to shed more dead skin cells than usual. While the purge isn’t ideal, it is also to be expected with certain skin care products containing active ingredients that increase skin turnover such as:

  • Retinoids (retinol, tretinoin, adapalene, tazarotene, isotretinoin, retinyl palmitate)... these are the most common offenders!
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Chemical peels, lasers, microdermabrasion
  • Exfoliants (scrubs, brushes, enzyme exfoliants)
  • Hydroxy acids (glycolic, lactic, malic, mandelic, salicylic, lactobionic acids; gluconolactone; “fruit acids”)

How to tell if its purging or a breakout?

All pimples, whether it’s because of purging or breaking out are caused deep within your skin. When determining whether your skin is breaking out or purging, there are a few things to consider 

The duration: The first sign to look out for is the duration of the breakout. The length of the breakout is the first indicator to watch for. The acne that arises during a purge has a shorter life cycle than a usual outbreak. It will recover faster than a regular breakout. If you start a new purging product and the breakouts linger longer than 6-8 weeks, it might mean the product isn't working for you or is really making matters worse.

Location: Purges also tend to trigger breakouts in the spots you normally see acne symptoms, so if you’re irritated in new areas, it’s probably not purging.

What products do I use whilst going through the purge?

When you are going through the purge your skin is already inflamed, breaking out and sensitive so we recommend sticking to the basics... that means a sulphate free gentle cleanser, a soothing moisturiser, hydrating serum (optional), an SPF during the day and of course the retinoid or active ingredient that’s putting you through the purge in the first place!

How long does a purge last?

Skin purging is temporary and everyone’s purging experience may be different. This also includes how long the purge lasts for.

It can be said that skin purges generally last for a month to six weeks, however, If your purge does not improve after 6-8 weeks we recommended having a consult with your dermatologist!


Still have questions? Currently going through a purge on one of our products? Don't hesitate to reach out to us, we are always happy to chat. 

Email us at hello@tbhskincare.com or DM us on Instagram!