It’s time we find out how to tell them apart.

It’s always exciting and maybe just a little bit scary to try out a new skincare product and see how it will make a difference to your skin. Maybe you just wanted to pamper yourself with something new and different, or freshen up your tried and tested skincare routine. 

Imagine waking up to a sudden flare of redness and pimples on your face. 

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Yep, it happens to the best of us ? …

While it is possible that your skin is just doing its own version of a detox with the product’s help, it could very well be having a negative reaction to one or more of the ingredients in the product.

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So how do you know which is which? We help you break down the differences between the two.

Purging is temporary

Purging occurs when your skin is adjusting to a new product. Keep on using it, and your skin will eventually get better. Essentially, it follows the idea that things get worse before it gets better. If anything, the breakout means that the product is doing its job!

Purging should only last about a month or so, after which your skin will feel rejuvenated and brand new. If your skin does not show any signs of improvement beyond that, you should stop using the product.

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Reacting occurs when your skin breaks out because the new product is not suited for your skin. Maybe your pores are getting blocked, maybe you’re allergic to something in it, or maybe you’ve bought the wrong product for your skin type – the possibilities are endless. When it’s a reaction, you need to stop using the product as your skin will never get used to it and will continue breaking out.

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Product formulation

Why does purging happen? It has to do with your skin turnover, that is the rate at which skin cells shed and are replaced. The product speeds up this process by forcing out all the dormant pimples, whiteheads, and blackheads hiding under your skin. 

Certain active ingredients that increase skin turnover contribute to the purging process. If your product contains any of the ingredients listed below, it is more likely that your breakout is the result of purging. Such ingredients include:

  • Hydroxy acids and fruit acids
  • Vitamin A (retinoids)
  • Vitamin C
  • Benzoyl peroxide

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If it doesn’t contain any of those ingredients and your skin is still breaking out after using the product, it is likely caused by a reaction rather than a purge.

Location of breakouts

Purging does not create new pimples – it forces out the impurities that are already underneath your skin. Your breakouts should appear in your usual ‘problem areas’.

When your skin has a negative reaction to the product, it has nothing to do with your skin turnover. More often than not, it’s an allergic reaction to the ingredient(s) present in the product that’s causing your skin irritation. You will likely experience breakouts in new places, or the acne in your usual ‘problem areas’ become worse.

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Sometimes the differences are not obvious and unfortunately, it’s a bit of a guessing game that takes time. 

But here’s a little cheat-sheet for you:

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Now you know when to let a product work its magic and when to say bye-bye to it! Don’t let uncontrollable breakouts hold you back from exploring different kinds of skincare products. Skincare is a personal journey for you and your skin, so keep your mind open to new products and your heart open to new experiences. ❤️

In Good Hands,