With hundreds of skincare products on the market today, it is sometimes difficult to differentiate what is actually working for our skin and make it worse. Without understanding the difference between purging and breakouts, you are risking using a foul product for way too long or missing out on a good product that might have worked for your skin. Many people keep using a harmful product because they are under the impression that their skin needs time to get used to it.

There is a huge difference between both phenomena. Learning how to pay attention to the difference to identify what type of reaction our skin is having is essential to understand how to act accordingly. If you are unsure how to tell the difference between both, here are some key differences to help you.

Not All Acne Is Bad

If this is your first time coming across this term, you will be relieved to know that not all acne is bad. Have you ever started a new product that many people swear by, yet you have noticed that your skin flared up right after using this product, maybe once or a couple of times? This normally would be referred to as skin purging, but it doesn’t have to be. The need to identify a bad reaction after using a certain product distinguishes between a breakout and purging. In the former case, you should stop the product immediately and give your skin a chance to heal, while with the latter, your skin is telling you that you have found the perfect product for it.

What Is Skin Purging?

Purging is necessary way more than we think. Purging only happens after introducing a new product to your skincare routine that works well. This is your skin’s way of flushing itself from toxins, dead skin cells, bacteria, dirt, and sebum buildup. On the other hand, using problematic skincare solutions that are strong and contain harsh chemicals can cause your skin to break out and react badly.  The difference between both cases can be identified by paying more attention. Right after purging is over, you should expect a huge positive change in how your skin looks and feels. Usually, this should only be expected after using a product that contains a powerful ingredient such as AHA, BHA, or retinoid. Chemical peels and anti-aging ingredients are what make or break your skincare routine.

How Does It Look Like?

Pimples in the case of a breakout look different from purging breakouts. You can expect any acne to pop up; the pimples might be small, red, and tender to the touch, but whiteheads and blackheads usually accompany them. However, if you are dealing with cystic pimples on your chin or forehead, this is definitely a breakout.

Cystic pimples usually only happen when there is an oil buildup or hormonal changes. However, in most cases, it’s better to seek a professional opinion from a certified dermatologist because purging might trigger another underlying skin condition such as rosacea, or it might cause an allergic reaction.

How to Deal with Both Cases?

If your skin is breaking out due to a bad reaction or any other reason, then it’s better to ditch all invasive and strong products. In this situation, it’s better to use a minimal number of products and a spot treatment while eating healthily to give your skin a chance to recover. If your skin started flaring up after a few days from using a new product, then there is a  high chance that it’s purging. In this case, you should keep using the product and taking care of your skin. This should last anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months, depending on the speed of cell turnover.

Usually, you can minimize how bad the purging reaction is when introducing powerful products into your skincare routine by slowly; apply the product for the first few times only for half an hour or an hour maximum, then remove it. After a week or so of doing this, you can apply the product and leave it for longer. Doing this helps in minimizing the purging reaction. Also, you would immediately know whether or not the product is suitable for your skin.

Not all pimples are bad and ugly. Sometimes, they are our most important indicators that our skin is healing. However, you should always introduce new products slowly for your skin to get used to them without irritating it. If you still can’t identify why your skin is breaking out, it’s recommended to seek a professional opinion to know how to deal with the breakout.