Purging your skin does not cause acne

Pamela Ponders Purging:

Hi! I’ve read the term ‘purging’ from skincare topics. For example, I remember reading that to adjust to a certain new skincare, someone’s skin could breakout, but not because they are have reactions to it, but is getting used to the new product. Do you know if it’s common for people to breakout or have a reaction to a new product but later benefits from it after a certain trial phase?

The Right Brain’s Purgatorial Reply: Pamela has accurately captured what some people believe to be true. Even Murad, a maker of acne products, preaches about purging. Murad says:

Whenever you begins using a new skin care line, your skin goes through what is called a “Purging Process”. This occurs because the product is actively cleansing and bringing all the trapped oil & impurities to the surface of your skin, which can cause you to break out more. Your skin will also experience some sensitivity and tingling.

Is this true? Maybe, kind of, a little bit. The part that is NOT true is that pimples are brought on by “releasing trapped oil.” Acne just doesn’t work that way. For what it’s worth, the Cosmetic Cop essentially agrees with our contention. However, she states that irritation causes pimples to erupt. That’s not entirely accurate either. There is one type of acne, acne mechanica that is caused by mechanical irritation to the skin (like your purse strap rubbing aginst your shoulder). But that generally doesn’t happen with the kind of chemical irritation you can get from cosmetic products.

So what part of purging is really true? Well, it’s possible the “breakouts” that people are describing are not really acne at all but folliculitis, a condition that occurs when your follicles are irritated and inflamed. This condition can be caused by irritating cosmetics and it requires different treatment than acne. So, maybe the breakouts from this alleged “purging” are not really tiny pimple volcanoes (ahh, now you see why that picture is there…), but instead are your skin’s initial reaction to a new product. After awhile your skin builds up a bit of an immunity to the irritation and the breakouts subside. But it’s NOT because you’re purging your skin of trapped oils and impurities. At least that’s the best theory the Beauty Brains can come up with. Let us know if this makes sense compared to what you’ve experienced.