Purging or Breaking Out - Sanctuary Spa & Skin Care

February 3, 2023

There is nothing worse than getting a new product only to find it causes you to break out. Are they plain old break outs or is your skin purging?

What’s the difference?

Products that are geared towards cell turnover like retinols and acids are more likely to cause true purging rather than a product that isn’t. When a pimple first begins to form, it is due to a clogged pore (most often dead skin cells that haven’t detached properly) and creates what is called a microcomedone. A microcomedone differs from a traditional comedone in the sense that microcomedones aren’t visible yet at the skin’s surface- these are the beginning of traditional comedones which will potentially turn into whiteheads, blackheads, etc. however, sometimes they go away on their own. It can take up to 8 weeks for a microcomedone to come to the surface! So when you add these products into your routine, you are accelerating the rate in which they heal which may cause a period of breaking out. Retinols, AHA/BHAs, physical exfoliants, and professional resurfacing treatments can cause a purging stage.

On the other hand, if you find yourself dealing with ongoing breakouts and clogged pores after using certain products you may just be having an adverse reaction. Products with silicone, beeswax, and certain oils like coconut and flax seed can increase clogged pores and should be avoided or used sparingly.

Here are some basic red flags to pay attention to when choosing products:

1. High amounts of alcohol: while some alcohol in a product is okay here and there, over using it can cause dryness. When you strip your skin of oils, it can cause it to overproduce to compensate. Unnecessary oils = unwanted breakouts.

2. Tight feeling after cleansing: If your skin feels tight after cleansing, odds are your cleanser is too abrasive. It could be chemically or physically too harsh for your skin.

3. Fragrance is first on the ingredient list: If a product lists fragrance before any other ingredients, then it’s safe to assume the product is complete bullshit. It’s also important to be aware (to a point) of the fragrances and concentrations in the products you use. Fragrance can be nice, but too much can be extremely irritating for the skin. For example, tea tree oil (which is a great smelling fragrance and essential oil!) not only is used for fragrance in skincare products, but also as an anti-inflammatory to treat acne. However, too much tea tree oil can literally cause a chemical burn on your skin.

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