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Skin Purging

What is skin purging?



Skin purging is an adverse reaction on the skin which can be triggered by an active ingredient that can increase the cell turnover rate. Visually, skin purging can be breakouts or peeling of the skin. Ingredients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, retinol, AHA and BHA are usually the main cause for this. This reaction is only temporary and doesn’t happen to everyone, or after every treatment. It is a lot more common in clients that use minimal active ingredients and who are not regular with their facial treatments.

Why does the skin purge?

It is difficult to say exactly why the skin purges, as every single client that walks through the salon doors will have a different reaction. Most of the active ingredients that can cause the skin to purge are used in products which help with anti-ageing and acne. Beauty treatments which are more intensive such as microneedling, laser and chemical peels can also lead the skin to purge as they most likely will contain active ingredients, but are also treatments that encourage the speed of cell turnover rate. In most cases it is completely unavoidable to use these products as they are used to combat fine lines, wrinkles, scarring, pigmentation, and existing breakouts which are usually the main reasons why clients come in for these types of treatments.


Avoiding skin purging.

There is no real way to avoid skin purging during treatments that increase the cell turnover rate as most blockages are already lying dormant under the skin. The active products that are used in these treatments speed up the process of them coming to the surface. The only way of reducing the likeliness is to introduce only one active ingredient to the skin at a time. If you are wanting to introduce an active ingredient into your skincare routine, it is recommended to use them once a week for the first couple of weeks. Then twice a week for the next couple etc. This way your skin will have enough time to adjust to the new products without them being too overpowering.

Knowing the difference between purging and acne.

For those people who have never really experienced breakouts, skin purging can come as quite of a shock to them. Timing is key when trying to establish whether your skin is purging or if you have acne. Purging is only temporary and will clear from the skin in 4 to 6 weeks, whereas acne is a condition that will persist. If your skin breaks out for longer than 6 weeks after using a new product, then it is most likely that this product is not suitable for your skin and is visibly doing more damage than good. Although it may not seem like it to most people, purging is actually a good thing as it shows the treatment is working properly and speeding up the cells turnover rate. It is a natural process that the skin undergoes in order to heal and regenerate as it is just a way of the skin expelling any impurities.

Treating the purge.


For those people who experience any kind of skin purging after a treatment, it is important to know how to help minimise any of these effects. Hydrating products with a low amount of active ingredients is recommended to balance out any dryness or irritation. It is also very important to avoid the sun where possible as too much sun exposure can dry the skin out further and worsen any kind of reaction. A sun protection with a minimum of SPF 30 should be applied daily to avoid any further damage.

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