How to Tell if Your Skin is Purging

by Chinelo And Ndidi

That flare up you got from trying a new skincare product, was it a result of your skin purging?

Purging refers to the type of breakout that sometimes occurs after you introduce a new product into your routine. When used for the first time, ingredients that promote cell turnover such as retinoids, glycolic acid, and salicylic acid, prompt cells to turnover - a process that speeds up new cell formation. As these new cells come to the surface, they may bring up pimples from clogged pores that have been lurking underneath the surface of your skin, hence the angry breakout. 

As distressful as it may be, It is an indication that the products are working and clearer skin awaits you with a little patience. 

How long does purging last?
Purging will typically start in the first week of using a product, and may last up to six weeks as your skin cycle resets. This estimate is not random; it takes the skin anywhere from 4- 6 weeks to completely turnover and renew itself. If the breakouts continue beyond 2 months, then your skin is probably not purging and it just may be that the product does not agree with your skin. 

How can I tell if this is purging? 
Well for one, if you added a new product with any of the following as an ingredient(s):

  • Retinoids and its derivatives 
  • Alpha hydroxy acids  including glycolic, lactic, malic and mandelic acids
  • Beta hydroxy acid also known as salicylic acid
  • Other fruit acids
  • Benzoyl peroxide

then there’s a good possibility that you are experiencing a purge. Also it typically is not just one stray pimple, they are usually a few of them that appear together in areas where you usually break out. 

If however the product you just started does not contain any of the ingredients that promote cell turnover, then it is likely that you are sensitive to the product in which case it is advisable to stop using it. 

How to minimize purging
If you have figured out that your skin is purging, it is important to keep going, as there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. You can however minimize the severity by cutting back on the quantity of product used and/or reducing the frequency of use. We always advise that when using products with any of the ingredient mentioned above, start really slowly with a small amount and then increase the size and frequency of use overtime. 

Chinelo And Ndidi
Chinelo And Ndidi


4 Responses


July 17, 2020

I loved this article! I recently started using a mild retinoid and noticed purging within the first couple of days of use. I freaked out a little because I thought I was having an adverse reaction to the product but the bumps decreased after two or three days. I’m so happy that the timeline of 4-6 weeks is not random and that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Team Bolden
Team Bolden

May 18, 2020

Hi Anne, Resveratrol and Alpha- Tocopherol are both antioxidants that neutralize free radicals before they can cause oxidative damage to the skin. They do not necessarily speed up cell turnover so would not be included in the list of ingredients that may cause your skin to purge.

Anne  M Jennings
Anne M Jennings

May 18, 2020

What about Resveratrol? And Alpha-Tocopherol? Would you include these ingredients on your list?


May 30, 2020

I just bought your clear skin kit. It’s been two weeks of use so far. However I started having rash-like pimples on my face and they sting when I used the toner. I remember reacting like this when I used the Thayers witch hazel toner and I noticed your toner has witch hazel as an ingredient. Do I stop using the toner or is this a Skin purge and I should be patient?

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