Spot The Bumps: Are They Breakouts Or Is Your Skin Purging?

Staying at home during the COVID-19 Circuit Breaker period means we are more likely to be trying something new. And if you’ve just started a new skincare product, you’d know that it can be both exciting as it is nerve-wrecking. When starting a new skincare regime, it could either improve your skin condition or worsen it with breakouts. And sometimes, this could be a good thing – that the product is actually working and the phenomenon you are experiencing is known as purging.

On the other hand, it could just mean you are simply breaking out. So how can you tell the difference? Read on and learn what causes skin purging and how it differs from an ordinary breakout.

What is skin purging?

There is often a confusion between purging and breakouts because both of them have similar outcomes outwardly: pimples. However, purging is not just an ordinary acne. Purging is a sudden outbreak or an initial acne breakout that can occur when you’re starting a new skincare that causes pimple formation to accelerate. Your skin cells get turned over quickly which loosens trapped sebum and debris. Pre-existing clogged pores, or microcomedones, make their way to the surface and become a giant breakout.

Some skincare products that can trigger purging include retinoids, exfoliating peels, Vitamin C treatments and Hydroxy acids like AHAs, BHAs and PHAs. Our new Comedone Set, available online, targets oily and congested skin to clear pores and improve the radiance of your complexion.

Purging can be seen as a positive thing, as the hardened sebum would have remained inside your pores otherwise, and kept them inflamed and clogged. It is a case of going through the worse before things get better and you see your skin improve.

What are breakouts?

Breakouts can also happen when you use a new skincare product, but a certain ingredient may not be agreeing with your skin and clogging your pores. It can also be a result of an allergic reaction or skin irritation. Inflammation is triggered which makes microcomedones flare up and turn into acne blemishes. Skin irritation also weakens your skin barrier which makes it susceptible to P.acnes bacteria and other impurities.

Possible skin ingredients that are responsible for this include silicones, preservatives, fragrances, oils and emollients. They are not necessarily bad, but because every one’s skin condition is unique, some ingredients may not be suitable. And your skin might not adapt to it if you continue applying it – instead it can cause more inflammation and sensitivity as well as deeper acne that can leave scars.

How to tell the difference?

It can be difficult to immediately tell the difference between purging and a breakout. But keep an eye out for these signs. It might be purging if you have introduced a new product that increases skin cell turnover and purging occurs in the usual areas of your face where it is prone to breakouts. For most people, this can be the oily party of the T-zone: forehead, nose and chin. The purging period should also last between 6 to 8 weeks.

On the other hand, it might be a breakout if the new product does not promote cell turnover, which are typically hydrating serums, face mists, and sunscreens. Also, look out for the particular area of the face that breakouts are happening – if you’ve never had any issues before on your cheeks and sudden acne pops up, this might indicate a reactive breakout rather than purging.

Final thoughts

If you’re still unsure and are worried about the condition of your skin, give the routine a break and skip the new product temporarily, long enough to calm down any possible skin reaction. Reassess your skin after a week or two to see if your skin is better overall or you still have clogs under the surface of the skin.

Use the product every other day and build it up according to the tolerance of your skin. You can also help to minimise the severity of the breakouts by ensuring your skin is well-cleansed and sufficiently hydrated. Our Aspure Gentle Wash helps to remove dead skin cells and impurities while improving dark spots – thanks to its key ingredient, Licorice Root Extract for skin lightening.

Plus, check out our affordable facial package, available at only $480 for 8 sessions (after 7% GST) for new customers! This nourishing facial will replenish skin hydration and get rid of excess sebum for a more radiant complexion.

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