Skin Purging: Necessary Adjustment?

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while as it’s something I often consider.  Skin purging is when your skin needs time to adjust to a product and therefore, allegedly, forces all the underlying issues (spots under the skin) to the surface within the first couple of weeks of using said product.  I often read blogs that say that after the initial purge, the product turned out to be great, but my belief is that a product should be great from day one.  If I use a product and it breaks me out, as far as I’m concerned, it isn’t worth pursuing.  Why would I want to put something on my face that my skin obviously doesn’t like, that could risk more post-acne scars and that has some sort of ingredient that is forcing my pores to become infected?

Yet lots of people think that purging is something that is an acceptable part of trying new skincare.  I try a lot of skincare and mix it up a lot of the time.  Sometimes my skin will just freak out in protest and I know that this is the time when I need to cut it all out and give it a break.  However, my skin freakouts are when my skin decides to work it’s way through all the various skin types (dry, combi, oily, dehydrated etc) in a very short space of time due to me confusing it with all sorts of different products and treatments.  This is not the same as purging.  If I’m using a product that is specifically aimed at treating spots, then I will not give it the benefit of the doubt if one of the first things it does is give me spots!

Within 24 hours of using a product I can tell whether I’ll continue to do so.  A good product will show some signs of immediate impact, albeit often very small.  So if a product appears to have given me under the skin spots that are apparently a sign it’s working as it’s purging my skin, I will quickly move on to something that bypasses this apparent essential phase.

I realise that people may disagree with me on this point, so I’ll just ask this: if I were to give you a hand cream with the instructions that it will make your skin much more dry for a couple of weeks before you start seeing any real difference, would you use it? I definitely wouldn’t, so I approach my skincare with the same logic.



  1. Kat (
    March 22, 2012 / 1:31 AM

    I totally agree with you. There is no such thing as purging. What people think is purging is actually follicle irritation from a new product that the skin can’t yet tolerate. The skin will after a while adapt to the irritating product and “purging” will then stop.

    I don’t believe this is something your skin *has* to go through (unless it’s a prescription topical), as it’s usually possible to find less irritating products for your skin.

    • BeautyGeekUK
      March 23, 2012 / 12:15 AM

      Thanks so much Kat; when I wrote this I really hoped you’d get a chance to see it as I was very eager to hear your thoughts! xx

  2. Red Rose Mummy
    March 22, 2012 / 2:49 PM

    I agree with you. If a product causes a reaction I would discontinue use. This is anything from dry skin to spots for me. Why would you persist with a product just in case it eases up? There are a million other products out there, why wouldn’t you just go and try those instead?

    • BeautyGeekUK
      March 23, 2012 / 12:15 AM

      That’s exactly what I think too, the whole idea of purging just seems totally unnecessary xx

  3. Haidee
    March 23, 2012 / 9:34 PM

    I agree – If a product made my skin worse there is no chance that I would use it for a further 6 weeks on the off chance that my skin was ‘getting used to it’. products can take a while to show improvements on your skin but to make it worse straight away? the only time ive put up with products that made me breakout have been skin tone correcting serums that tend to irritate my skin and make it a bit spotty because they are quite harsh but even then i tend to stop using after a couple of weeks x

    • BeautyGeekUK
      March 26, 2012 / 8:31 PM

      I’m so glad you agree as I really do think this whole skin purging logic is quite ludicrous! I don’t see why there would be any point in wasting time on a product that initially does more harm than good on the hope that it’ll improve things at a later date xx

  4. Karen
    September 4, 2013 / 3:37 AM

    Sascha, I thought purging was nonsense but now I’m not so sure. I have long had terrible keratosis pilaris on my arms but since I started using dead sea salt soap on them I’m finding all sorts of small white pimple-like bumps on them. Annoying, but they’re easier to get rid of than the red bumps I had before. It does seem like my skin is finally able to get rid of all that old junk in my skin thanks to the new soap. But if it was my face that was purging I’d want to stop the product, so it’s kind of confusing!

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