Is Your Skin Purging Or Are You Breaking Out? Here's How To Tell

No one enjoys waking up and finding a fresh acne breakout on their face. Most of the skincare industry's value comes from preventing issues like acne breakouts. In fact, the industry is valued at $20 billion, according to Statista. With these types of numbers, odds are that you have probably tried a skincare product — or five or 10 — before.

If you've ever tried a new skincare product and immediately started breaking out, you start to wonder whether your new product is working or not. Although the difference between your skin purging after a new product or simply breaking out is minimal, there are some ways you can tell the difference. It's important to know the difference between the two as you never want to keep putting a product on your face if it will do more harm. On the other hand, you also want to know that the product you're putting on is working and getting rid of those unwanted visitors. Here's how to correctly tell the difference.

Difference between purging and breaking out

After you've incorporated a new product into your routine and you have a new face of breakouts the next day, what's going on? You're either experiencing skin purging or your skin is breaking out. According to Daniel Belkin, M.D., the difference is when and how they happen (via InStyle). Skin purging typically plays out at the beginning of starting a new skin product. If your skin is purging, the changes in your skin will be centralized in the area where you're applying your new product. If the acne is spreading to areas beyond where you're applying the new product, it's probably a breakout.

Apart from start time, dermatologist Dr. Brendan Camp also suggests that skin purging will last only a few days or around a week. A skin breakout will last a couple of weeks and seldom goes away during this time. Skin purging will mostly happen with active ingredients such as exfoliators or retinol that are turning new skin cells over. Any product besides these will not likely cause skin purging, meaning you're experiencing a standard breakout (via Bustle).

What causes purging and how to get rid of it

Skin purging can seem like another frustrating skin issue you have to deal with. However, skin purging is ultimately a good thing as it signifies that your new skincare product is working. According to Skinkraft Laboratories, skin purging happens when your new product speeds up the acne process and brings to the skin all of the absorbed oil and dirt from inside the skin. Because active ingredients work to turnover healthy new skin cells, the dead skin cells with trapped dirt and oil need to come to the surface to make room for the new healthy cells.

Dermatologist Dr. Deanne Mraz Robinson explains to Healthline that the best way to combat skin purging is to continue using the new product besides the acne. After a while, the purging will stop and reveal the new healthier skin. With skin purging, you will also want to use other products that are gentle and fragrance-free. When using retinols or exfoliators that is causing skin purging you want to ensure that no other product will create breakouts or reactions at the same time.