I encountered the term purging when I tried Jojoba Oil for the first time. I found myself experiencing an explosion of tiny white bumps on my forehead, an area of my face on which I never really broke out. The internet explained that purging on Jojoba Oil was normal. Apparently, an initial ‘purge’ meant that my pores were detoxifying from past chemical product use.
I believed this myth for about 3 and a half weeks, and used the oil for 4 full weeks before I threw in the towel. It took MONTHS to clear up my forehead after that…Maybe partly due to the fact that I couldn’t stop touching my face. The bumps kept forming, and I kept touching them, spreading the bacteria, creating more bumps.
But I digress.
Purging is real, it’s when your skin gets rid of gunk.
What I didn’t know is that purging can only be brought on by active ingredients that actually promote cell turnover, like acids for example.
Let’s look at the way a pimple is formed. Dead skin cells and sebum get stuck in a hair follicle causing a microcomedone to form. A microcomedone is a tiny clog that happens under the skin’s surface. It is so small that you may never notice it and it may never come to the surface of your skin.
But it can turn into a blackhead, whitehead, or get inflamed and turn into a full blown pimple or cyst too. It can take up to 8 weeks for a microcomedone to come to the surface if it ever even does.
There’s a class of ingredients called actives that do cause real purging by speeding up skin cell turnover.
Active ingredients or treatments include the following:
- Acids and Chemicals Peels (glycolic, malic, salicylic, lactic etc.)
- Vitamin C
- Benzoyl Peroxide
- Lasers and Microdermabrasion
- Physical exfoliants (scrubs, brushes, wash cloths)
You’ll speed up the normal microcomedone cycle using actives, which initially might appear like you’re reacting to the product. In effect, you’re getting the microcomedone to come to the surface more quickly, but you’re also preventing future microcomedones from forming too. Active ingredients usually clear out the gunk, and smooth out the skin in the process.
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Purging from actives is a good thing. You can get through a purge and experience better skin! A good purge can last around a month. You might experience a lot of break-outs, but it depends on how many microcomedones that were already in your skin. I know regular exfoliation keeps my skin clearer than if I skip it altogether.
Reacting and purging are different. Know that if your skin is reacting to a product then you should stop using it.
Signs that you’re reacting to a product:
- You are experiencing break-outs where you normally don’t break out
- The bumps/pimples you normally experience are bigger and more inflamed than usual (irritation can worsen inflammation)
- The breakouts last for longer than 6-8 weeks
So was my skin purging or reacting to Jojoba Oil? It was reacting – in a big way! This isn’t to say that you will too, but it just means that now you can understand when you can keep using a product, or when you should ditch it.
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