You’ve tried a new product and your skin is purging.
Products that include high doses of vitamin C, A and retinol are known for their purging abilities. If you’re trying a new product that features an AHA, BHA, or other exfoliant it is likely your skin will go through a cleansing period, where the active ingredient is drawing out impurities, exfoliating dead skin and increasing cell turnover (leading to breakouts), that will eventually settle down.
You’ve tried a new product and it’s not agreeing with you!
Breakouts can also occur when you introduce a product with allergenic or irritating ingredients (and unfortunately these allergens are different for everybody!). An ingredient your skin doesn’t like will typically cause inflammation and irritation, leading to clogged pores and a buildup of bacteria, that rear their heads as breakouts.
Unfortunately it can take time to identify and fix this type of breakout. When you try new products it’s good practice to be mindful of the ingredients listed. If you find yourself opting for products that feature an ingredient you know your skin is sensitive to, then you can start to avoid these in future purchases. A good start is to try avoid parabens, silicons and synthetic ingredients as these are known irritants.
How can I tell the difference between purging & breakouts?
It’s likely to be purging when:
- There is an active ingredient in the new product that increases cell turnover - eg. Vitamin C, Retinol, AHA’s & BHA’s.
- If the breakouts are occurring in the same areas as normal, but more frequently.
- If they settle down or disappear completely within 1-2 months of using the new product.
It’s likely a breakout if:
- The acne occurs in new places on your face.
- The breakouts are consistent when you’re using the product (lasting longer than 2 months).
- Your skin is dry, itchy, irritated or red.
You’re eating more sugar & dairy than normal.
Sadly a very common one, you may be eating more sugar and processed foods than you normally would without even realising. Sugar and other high glycemic foods cause your blood sugar to spike and can result in inflammation across the body. Sudden large spikes in your insulin levels also increase the production of oils in your skin, contributing to clogged pores. Whilst this might not be the cause of any sudden breakouts, reducing large amounts of high sugar foods isn’t going to hurt!
You’re introducing bacteria to your skin without knowing.
You definitely know this one, but really who has the time to change their pillow case every couple of days. We get it! But if you’ve really started noticing new breakouts around your chin and cheeks and can’t understand why, it could be that you’ve started unconsciously touching your face more often, talking on your phone more or can’t remember the last time you washed your makeup brushes. It could be helpful to set an alarm or calendar reminder to wash brushes, make it a habit to sanitise your phone when you get home at the end of the day, or even make a tally on a post it note when you touch your face at work.
You’re over exfoliating!
This one is tricky! Unfortunately, we all know the struggle of wanting to immediately rid ourselves of a blemish as soon as it makes an appearance. However, it can be all too easy to fall victim to over exfoliating or over spot treating. Applying an excess of salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and tea tree oil can actually have the reverse effect you’re hoping for. Applying topical spot treatments like this work by drying out the blemish, however when you apply them every day, or twice a day, your skin will begin to overcompensate and produce an excess of oil to try re-balance your skin, and in turn create breakouts. The same process occurs when you over exfoliate. So the best advice here is to be patient!
Remember, breakouts are a part of life, so pop on a face mask and have a cuppa!