acne purging
Acne 101

Purging 101: Your Complete Guide

By - November 20, 2020

We’ve written about this before, but we get so many questions about it that we want to discuss it even further: the acne purge. If you’ve ever had issues with acne, and you’ve just started a new treatment, then you know what we’re talking about. Skin purging happens when you try a new product and your skin reacts to the chemicals in the new product, which causes temporary irritation and breakouts. We’ll be discussing that in greater detail today to help you understand what’s happening with your skin if you’re a first-time user of SMACNE—and how you can get through it with clearer, healthier and more radiant skin. 

Why do acne purges happen?

As mentioned, skin purges occur because your skin is reacting to a new product that you’re using. There are two reasons this happens: 

  • The product is eliminating the toxins, sebum and dead skin clogging your pores, which essentially means the product is doing its job, and 
  • Your skin is eliminating toxins faster than it can produce new cells, which can cause temporary blockages closer to the surface of your skin—and thus acne purges. 

How can you differentiate a purge from a breakout? 

Now you may be asking, “Isn’t it the same as a breakout? I have more acne now than before I started using SMACNE.” There are differences between your usual breakout and a new product-caused acne. 

Your acne is a sign of purging if: 

  • It happens in areas where you frequently get breakouts
  • It heals faster than your other acne—it will clear out in less than eight days
  • The new product you’re using has retinoids or acids that exfoliate your skin 
  • This varies on a case to case basis, but acne caused by purging usually looks like smaller bumps in your skin or manifests as blackheads and whiteheads. 
  • It clears out and resolves itself 4-6 weeks after you start using the new product. 

Your acne is a breakout if: 

  • You are using a product that does not have retinol, other retinoids or acids as its active ingredient 
  • It takes around 8-10 days to heal, which is the standard healing time for regular acne breakouts
  • It does not disappear after 4-6 weeks of using the product (more on this later). 
  • They appear in different forms, from blackheads and whiteheads to pustules, papules and cysts
  • They appear in new areas where you do not usually get acne 

Note that you should be observing these signs in relation to when you first started a new product. So if you just started using SMACNE, you can expect to see these within a couple of weeks. If you have no sensitivities to SMACNE’s main active ingredients (you can check that on our Ingredient List page) then you shouldn’t experience breakouts at all—that will be your skin purging toxins, dead skin and other contaminants clogging your pores. 

Is there a way to treat acne caused by purging?

Yes and no—and we’ll explain why. 

You can’t “treat” purging per se because it’s not your regular breakout; it’s a sign that the active ingredients in your product are taking effect. The only thing you can do when you’re experiencing purging is to wait it out, because the acne from purging will clear itself out in 4-6 weeks—that’s the amount of time it takes to flush out excess sebum, dirt, dead skin cells and other toxins that are causing your regular breakouts. 

Given that, the way you can “treat” the acne caused by purging is through consistency. This is why we emphasize this with new SMANCE users all the time: if you go through a period of purging, keep using the cleanser twice a day every day until your skin begins to clear up. It takes 4-6 weeks normally but many of our users have reported seeing an improvement in their skin as early as 3 weeks into using SMACNE, so as long as you’re consistent with your skin care routine, you should see your skin improving in a few weeks as well. 

If you have sensitive skin and you observed the symptoms to be those of purging and not of an acne breakout, you might want to ease your skin into adopting the new product you’re using more carefully. In the case of the SMACNE cleanser, for example, instead of using it twice a day every day right away, use it on alternating days with your current cleanser of choice until your skin feels comfortable with it, and then wean yourself off of the previous cleanser until you switch to SMACNE entirely. Here’s a reminder, though: Don’t use both cleansers at the same time—you’ll run the risk of destroying your skin’s natural protective covering, making your skin dry and irritated if you over-cleanse with two different cleansers at the same time. 

What do I do if it’s not purging, but actually breakouts?

If after using a product for over a month, you notice that you’re breaking out in new areas, your skin isn’t clearing up for several days or your acne has seemingly gotten worse, then it’s likely your skin is having an allergic reaction to your new product. If the new product you’re testing is the only new product you’re using, stop using it immediately; if not, then stop using each new product one by one for a given period and see which one is triggering the reaction. 

Additionally, you might be using products that are not compatible with each other and that may cancel out each other’s effects. Make sure to research which ingredients are compatible before using products together to avoid an allergic reaction such as irritation and breakouts. 

The best way to deal with these acne breakouts is to consult your dermatologist about the best acne treatment plan for your skin. This way, you won’t be hopping from one product to another without knowing if the ingredients in the products you’re using are making your breakouts worse. 

How soon should I go back to my dermatologist?

Depending on other factors that are affecting your skin health, it might take a few weeks to several months before you start seeing results—or before you can decisively say your new treatment isn’t working. You need to be consistent with your use of the new products you’re adding to your regimen and you need to give it the recommended amount of time to work before you go back to your dermatologist for another treatment option. However, if you are experiencing any of the following, it’s a good idea to check with your dermatologist: 

  • If your acne is not improving after several weeks or if your acne is getting worse
  • If the irritation is persistent 

You should stop the treatment immediately and see your doctor right away if you experience the following symptoms: 

  • Developing cysts / cystic acne
  • Your face starts to scar 
  • You start feeling unwell while using the new product

Try the SMACNE Acne Treatment Kit today

We hope we’ve answered your questions about purging in this blog, and that you’re now ready to start your own skin transformation journey! Get your free SMACNE kit here and share your progress with us through social media—we love to hear about SMACNE users’ progress! If you have any questions about the product or about your skin, you can also reach us at contact(@)smacne.co and someone from our team will be happy to help you out. 

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