Most skin care professionals may have experienced skin care purging firsthand, or at the very least, had clients who went through the process. For customers who’ve switched up their products expecting their results to be instant glowing skin, a skin care purge can be a shocking alternative.
What is a Skin Care Purge
A skin purge is an adjustment phase that occurs when new products speed up the skin cell turnover rate, causing an array of temporary side effects like blackheads and pimples. It looks like breakouts and blemishes on your skin which is why it commonly gets confused! The cause of a skin purge is the skin reacting to the active ingredients in a product which essentially increases cell turnover and pushes all hidden commodities to the skin surface. Due to the cellular turnover during a skin purge, the surface layer of skin begins to shed more quickly, so our skin expedites its recovery and pushes everything to the surface. This usually happens if you have clogged pores which can cause pimples, or if you have excess sebum or smaller pimples which can then turn into larger ones.
It really depends on the person, their skin type, their age, and the products they’ve previously used when it comes to how long skin care purging lasts. For younger skin, it could mean just a couple of days, but for mature skin it can be a couple of weeks. We often find older skin will take a little longer to adjust, just because they’ve had years of putting different products on the skin and with the skin being more mature, it takes a little while to regenerate. A purge should really only take a full skin cycle to do its job of skin renewal; however, a bad reaction can linger on. Everyone’s skin is different, but typically most experts suggest that a skin care purge should be over in about four to six weeks. My advice is to always suggest that clients persevere through the purging phase because their skin is essentially detoxing, and the purge allows time for it to balance itself out.
Skin Purging vs. Breakouts
Unfortunately, it can be difficult to tell the difference between a skin care purge and breakouts; however, the key differences are where on your client’s face the blemishes are appearing and how long they stay. During a skin care purge, skin cells will turn over at a fast rate, meaning those blemishes will go away faster, typically within a few days. Breakouts on the other hand can last anywhere from eight to 10 days. The timelines for how long the blemishes stay differs between the two. Typically, a blemish from a skin care purge will last just a few days, but a blemish from a breakout can last longer.
If your client experiences itchy, hot, red or irritated skin at any point then definitely delve into the matter deeper because there could be other issues at play that might not heal on their own. Then, if you look at your client’s skin and understand where these issues are happening and if it’s abnormal for them, you can often get a better understanding. For example, if your client is experiencing blemishes in places that they normally breakout, then it could be part of a skin care purge. If they are experiencing sensitive, itchy or rash-like skin, it could be an allergic reaction to a product. Understanding the difference can be incredibly important because while a skin care purge can be a great thing for your customer’s skin, if it's an allergic reaction instead, your client’s skin is going to take a lot longer to balance out (especially if they persevere with those products).
How to Get Rid of Skin Purging
Unfortunately, ‘getting rid’ of a skin care purge isn’t that easy. In fact, you want your client to persevere through the process (not get rid of it). Below are some steps that you can suggest to your client who may be having trouble with the process.
Patience. The best way to get rid of a skin care purge is patience. Patience can be the best way to let it run its course and detoxify completely. What you’ll usually find though is that your client’s skin will need to go through a detoxing phase where it rids the layers of any toxins that might have built up (and a lot of time their skin might get worse before it gets better).
Avoid Further Irritation. During this phase, you’ll want to make sure your client isn’t doing anything to further aggravate their skin, instead just ensuring that it is a phase and will eventually clear. Advise your clients to avoid any stripping products (such as harsh cleansers or scrubs) and make sure they don’t pick it. Picking skin will only make matters worse. Let your clients know this, as their hands can carry germs, bacteria and dirt. This dirt and bacteria can easily be spread when we touch our skin, in effect, making any blemishes worse. What’s more, when we pick at our skin and break the surface, we’re allowing any dirt to penetrate even further, thus infecting, and irritating the skin. Ensure that your client is constantly washing their hands thoroughly before touching their face.
Use Gentle Products. If your client’s skin is going through a purging phase, avoid aggravating it anymore by only using gentle products. Put away any harsh scrubs or cleansers and instead incorporate gentle practices such as cleansing their skin thoroughly each day with a gentle cleanser.
Less is Best. If your client has introduced a new active product into their skin care routine, then don’t overcomplicate things. You can always suggest trying new products using a phased approach such as only once a week at first, then every second day (etc.) until they can use it every day. That way it can give your client’s skin time to get used to the new active ingredients and better incorporate it into its processes. Don’t overload their skin by introducing a plethora of new actives at the same time, instead think ‘less is more’ as it is better for their skin.
Break the Buildup
Whilst a ‘skin care purge’ might seem like a bad thing to have to put your client’s skin through, rest assured that it has many positive benefits (they just need to be patient). The reason a skin care purge is important is because certain skin care products, especially synthetic products, can get clogged in pores and build up over time. This can eventually be the cause of various skin conditions like dermatitis or irritation.
If your client is using synthetic products, at some point they should eventually ‘purge’ these toxins from the skin cells. To do this, introduce a natural product into their routine that is potent with actives. Just remember that with a skin purge, your client’s skin might get worse before it gets better, but the results are totally worth it.
Lucy Macdougald is the Global Managing Director and Dermal Specialist at Biologi. As a qualified and experienced dermal specialist and senior laser technician, Lucy leads her current team to advise consumers on how best to use Biologi’s100% active plant based serums to address individual skin concerns for their skin type. You can follow Lucy on Instagram and Biologi.