Purging or Breaking Out?

As women we are often told to hold on to our youthful beauty for as long as possible. Our secret ingredient being retinoids, but is this miracle chemical really the key? Or is it causing more damage than it is solving? Many women report that the use of retinol products on their skin causes breakouts, redness, irritation, and peeling. The common conclusion is that the reaction is the skin purging itself in order to reveal new baby soft skin. The confusion arises when the question is raised of when is the skin reaction no longer purging but rather breaking out

A True Skin Purge 

The process of a real purge is “an adjustment period” for the skin, as referred to by dermatologist Dr. Shereene Idriss. In order for the skin to get used to a new product conditions may appear worse before they get better. During this time the active ingredients cause cell turnover which will result in impurities being brought to the surface. The adjustment period must occur in order for the layers of dead skin to be shed and replaced by new cells.  This period of worsening skin should not last any longer than three weeks, and if it does the reaction is not a purge but rather breaking out. 

Negative Skin Reactions 

When using a new product we can often get caught up in the excitement of the promising effects it is supposed to have on our skin and do not consider the fact that it could also be harmful to our skin. If a reaction does occur from the new product, oftentimes we chalk it up to just purging but most people are actually experiencing a negative skin reaction. A few easy signs to identify the reaction are inflamed skin for extended periods of time while using the product and breakouts in new areas on the skin. If the results of the product are negative it is a good idea to take a look at the active ingredients to see what potentially caused the breakout. We only discover these reactions through trial and error so it is vital we listen to our skin and know the signs of a negative reaction. 

Not All Retinoids Cause a Purge 

Retinol products do not have to cause a purge in order for them to work, and it is important to note that not all purges involve an outbreak of acne. Everyone’s skin reacts differently to chemicals and those with sensitive skin usually have to take extra precautions. These precautions should not stop anyone from trying a new product, even a retinoid. A good place to start is with a low concentration retinol from over the counter. When using retinol for the first time, cutting out all other active ingredients from the skincare routines will help to minimize the chances of a negative reaction.  If it is still too strong, it can be diluted with any normal moisturizer.

Be Proud of Your Beautiful Skin! 

Society has a way of making women feel as though we have to uphold certain beauty standards in order to be considered worthy, which results in many women going to extreme lengths to reach this unattainable goal of perfection. If using a retinoid causes a negative skin reaction do not feel pressured to use it. The notion that youth is expressed in surface level beauty opposed to youthfulness of one’s spirit is false. Trying to induce a reaction out of the skin in order to cause a purge can be very harmful to one’s health. It’s also important to remember that chemical peels should be limited in their use and to consult a dermatologist if prone to sensitive skin. So have fun with products, but be cautious with your skin and most importantly be proud of your natural beauty!

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