A Few Words on Purging

When discussing skincare products a common occurrence I see discussed is “purging”. Purging is the concept that when you start using a skincare product your skin breaks out worse for a little while because whatever product you’re using is bringing up all the trapped yuck out of your face. Supposedly your skin will normalize and the purging will go away and then the miracle product will begin to work its magic. Or something. Uh, okay. Right.

I call shenanigans on purging. No freaking way. If a skincare product causes acne, it’s because it’s causing acne. Not because of some instability in your skin’s delicate eco system. Either one of the ingredients is acnegenic or you’re allergic to it, or it’s clogging your pores, or something. It’s not just ‘getting used to it’.

First of all, if any other product caused a break out– say, foundation, for example, you’d stop using it. Because that product isn’t working for you. Why the heck is skincare any different?

Acne is not just annoying while it happens. It’s painful, and the associated inflammation caused by acne causes long term damage and scarring that is very hard to get rid of. Why do you think a zit cream costs $5 and Mederma, a scar fading system, is pricey as all get-out? Because getting rid of scars is hard.

Anyway, why do I bring this up? Because there is no way in hell I would keep using a product that caused me to break out. The long-term effect of having scarred skin is not worth it. I contend that purging is a myth made up by companies to make excuses for why their products are doing more harm than good.

“But Alyson! No!” you say, “I used Brand X cleanser for 4 months and it broke me out for the first 2 months but then I was fine and now it’s great!” Wrong. Either the cleanser wasn’t breaking you out and it was just a coincidence due to something else, or you didn’t actually have acne, but folliculitis, which is a condition consisting of basically really pissed off follicles that become inflamed. Sometimes after a while the condition goes away because your follicles learn to cope with the irritant. Thus, the “acne” goes away.

Also, skincare takes a while to work. My dermatologist told me to wait a good month before I looked for true improvement in my skin once I started my current routine. He was right! And it was gradual, too. I noticed fewer breakouts and then eventually none. If I had been expecting faster changes, I might have assumed the new products were breaking me out instead of what was really happening– they just weren’t working yet.

I am a firm believer that treating your skin gently is the way to go. Using a product that breaks you out is never productive in my view.


  1. Miss Yaya says
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