Why some breakouts may actually be a good thing

Yes, it’s time to be pro pimple!

If youve ever suddenly broken out after using a new skin care product for the first time and blamed the change in ingredients, you might not be wrong. The process you’re likely experiencing is called skin purging, and the good news is, it can often help you get clearer skin, faster.

Skin purging, as Australian blogger Michelle from Lab Muffin Beauty Science explained in her YouTube video titled Is my skin purging or breaking out?, is the process whereby a new skin care product causes pimple formation to speed up, making your microcomedones (the clogged pores under the skin’s surface) appear on the surface of your skin much faster than they ordinarily would.

Essentially, this means that some of the pimples that appear after using a new product for the first time were likely going to develop anyway, but at a slower rate.

To find out more about skin purging, we asked celebrity facialist and Dr. Spiller skin care expert, Sue Dann to talk us through the process.

How it works

According to Dann, skin purging occurs when the new skin care product incorporated into your routine “allows the skin’s functions to normalise.” This means that while the new skin care product accelerated pimple production, if it “properly balances the skin, the conditions for further pimple production will no longer be present,” Dann explains. She adds that this acts like a skin detox, “allowing the skin to do a spring clean and to rid itself of congestion and impurities.”

Ingredients to help your skin during the purging process

Dann stresses that a skin purge shouldn’t occur if you already have healthy skin “as it is always working towards a healthy balance (homeostasis).” However, if you do experience skin purging, she recommends “good biomimetic skin care as it will create the conditions that allow the skin to function as it is meant to. Certain ingredients can be beneficial [like] propolis – which is antibacterial, hyaluronic acid to help maintain skin hydration, and cinnamon bark oil, which helps to balance bacteria in the skin,” she added.

If you’re looking for products that fit this bill, we recommend Dr. Spiller Propolis Day Cream, Dermalogica Skin Hydrating Masque and Kiehl’s Blue Herbal Spot Treatment.

Dr. Spiller Propolis Day Cream

Dermalogica Skin Hydrating Masque

Kiehl’s Blue Herbal Spot Treatment

How to tell if you’re reacting badly

So how can you tell if your new skin care product is working to detox your skin or if it’s actually just making it a whole lot worse? According to Dann, “skin reaction will show with redness, inflammation and itching. If it’s just a breakout we advise patience. Within two to four weeks the breakouts should disappear and the skin should be visibly clearer. If this is not the case the new skin care routine should be reviewed.”

How to treat a skin purge breakout

Generally speaking, a pimple caused by a skin purge should disappear quicker than your average breakout “because the skin is being rebalanced and will work properly afterwards,” says Dann. However, “each pimple should be individually spot treated with products containing anti-inflammatory and antibacterial ingredients.”

Are you constantly breaking out in the same spot? The reason why is a lot simpler than you’d expect.

Do you have a favourite spot treatment? Share it with us in the comment section below.

Image credit: @lucyhale

Kate has worked for BEAUTYcrew since early 2016, first as a contributor, before being named Beauty Writer in 2017. She loves picking the brains of the industry's top experts to get to the bottom of beauty's toughest questions. Bronze eyeshadow palettes are her weakness and she's forever on the hunt for the perfect nude nail polish to suit her fair skin. Her words can also be found in Men's Health magazine.