Whether you’ve struggled with acne since your teenage years or spots have found a place on your face in adulthood, the age-old question remains: How do I get clear skin?

You may have tried every cream, scrub and ointment on the market. You may have turned to unusual home remedies, too. And while some treatments seem to diminish the pustules, others make them worse. Your immediate response when the latter occurs is to stop using the product. But as backwards as it sounds, what appears to be a reaction may be a sign that it’s actually working.


Skin purging occurs when a new product or ingredient increases cell turnover and therefore causes pimple formation to speed up. It triggers clogged pores to rise to the surface all at the same time, resulting in the emergence of new spots. This is common with many types of skincare ingredients including retinols, acids and peels. Purging can look a lot like a regular breakout, so how can you spot the difference? Here are a few tips to help you uncover and recover from your skin’s tantrum:


Identify the purge

If you’re getting new acne where you typically break out and the “life cycle” of your pimples is faster than normal, it’s likely that your skin is purging.


Identify a reaction

If new pustules appear in areas you typically don’t get acne, it will take eight to 10 days for the pimples to complete their life cycle. If your skin is itchy and rash-like, it’s likely you’re reacting poorly to the new product.


Consult professional help

If you have trouble determining whether it’s truly a purge, stop use of the product and consult your doctor.


Keep it simple

In order to survive the purge, it’s best to go back to the basics. Use a sulfate-free cleanser, hydrating moisturizer and sunscreen during the day to protect your skin from further inflammation. Continue using the product that’s prompting the purge, understanding it may get worse before it gets better.


Be patient

Skin cycles typically last about 28 days. It may take that entire time and then some for purging to cease. If it lasts longer than six weeks, discontinue product use and contact your doctor.


Hands off

Resist the urge to pick and pop. This could elongate the purge and lead to scars. Let acne run its course without interference. You may just end up with your best skin ever!

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