When you use a new skincare product, you will discover three things; it can work for you, it can cause your skin to flare up with whiteheads/irritation, or it can cause you to break out. The problem is not the irritation or breakout, it’s figuring out which of the two you are experiencing. Let’s discuss Purging and Breakouts in detail to understand the difference.

Skin Purging & its causes

In simple words, Purging is nothing but a reaction that occurs when you use a certain skincare product or procedure for the first time. It is not something that necessarily happens to everyone, and not all skincare products will make you purge. But majorly retinoids and other exfoliating acids such as AHAs, BHAs, Vitamin C, etc are known to cause purging.

It usually happens when you introduce a new product that your skin is not used to, in your skincare routine. Our skin naturally sheds dead skin cells and renews itself but specific ingredients like retinoids are supposed to accelerate it. And this is what makes the impurities underneath come to the skin surface faster, causing it to purge. Purging is basically the idea of getting worse before it gets better.

Breakouts & their causes

On the other hand, if your skin is not purging and it’s breaking out, it will irritate the skin, clog pores, and lead to acne. Unlike purging, breakouts are caused because a certain product is not suitable for your skin. Most commonly, when a skincare product is comedogenic or has ingredients that can cause allergies, it will cause a breakout. These products can be anything from cleansers to facial oils. Other reasons for breakouts can be stress, pollution, and dirt.

How to tell purging from breaking out

Now that you know what both the terms, purging and breakout are and what their causes are, you can differentiate between the two. However, if you have acne-prone skin, it can get a bit difficult. So, here is a list of signs you can look out for:

Check the duration

Purging is temporary, and it doesn’t last for more than a month. However, breakouts last for a while, more than a month.

Check the product type

Purging can happen only after introducing a new skincare product or procedure that increases cell turnover. Hence, purging can only be the result of products with active ingredients such as Retinol, Benzoyl Peroxide, Hydroxy acids, L ascorbic acid, etc. Breakouts, on the other hand, can be the result of trying a new product that isn’t right for you or can clog your pores.

Check the location

Purging occurs only around the areas that you usually break out. So, if your chin is the area where your most breakouts are, you will purge there. Whereas, breakouts occur in areas that you usually do not break out.

Check the signs

Purging makes you experience no such signs of irritation or pain. However, with breakouts, you may see dryness, irritation, redness, itchiness, swelling, and pain.

The after-effects

With purging, you won’t see any blemishes or marks afterwards. But breakouts leave scars when they are gone.