It’s not a reaction, your skin is just purging | #SaturdaySpecial on YNaija

by Conrad Johnson Omodiagbe

Skincare is tricky. While we all wish for a clear-cut “one size fits all” manual that leads to perfect-looking skin, unfortunately, just like Thomas Edison, skincare and the success attached to it is all a function of research, patience and consistency.

Several sayings succinctly describe what this post is about. Some iterations include the popular “Rome wasn’t built in a day” and “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.” A tad bit problematic and drenched heavily in strong aspire to perspire vibes, these sayings convey the importance of patience – you have to essentially suffer before you get the end results you truly desire. And nothing drives this message home more than purging skin.

What Is Skin Purging?

How many times have you been excited about the introduction of a new product or a complete overhaul of your existing skincare routine, just to be met with more skincare problems than when you started? Most of us have experienced this, and like rational beings, we decided to dump said product with a quickness. But hold on, there’s more to it.

Skin purging refers to the trying period right after the introduction of a new product with ingredients that increase the skin cell turnover rate. Originally intended to facilitate the revelation of healthier skin cells, the purging process which these products also cause might lead to a temporary acne flare-up. Dr. Sejal Shah, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City explains it further to, saying, “Because purging is thought to be due to increased cell turnover, it’s really going to bring preexisting microcomedones to the surface and they will turn into whiteheads, blackheads, papules, pustules, and cysts. Usually, it happens in areas that you usually get breakouts.”

Am I purging or is this a bad reaction? 

Remember when we said skincare was tricky? Well, this is one of the tricky parts. The skincare issues you experience when you’re purging, for example, acne, look exactly like your regular breakouts. So how do you decipher your case and make the decision to move forward with a product or not?

In an interview with Vogue India, Dr. Batul Patel, a medical director and dermatologist with The Bombay Skin Clinic lists out two ways to help you out of this skin care conundrum. He explains that with purge related acne, breakouts will be located in the regular areas you’ve been known to have issues. So if you usually suffer breakouts on your forehead, when you purge, your forehead will still be the meeting point. However, when you start a new product and breakouts start to make cameos in areas that you’ve never suffered before, then, yes, you’re having a bad reaction. Another clue, timing. While purge related breakouts subside quickly, reactions might go on for a longer period.

How common is it?

Just because I’m purging at the moment, doesn’t mean you will too. That’s the weird bit. Purging differs from person to person and some people might never go through the process. For them, its smooth sail from problematic skin to a Yara Shahidi glow. No stops in-between.

What are the ingredients that could make me purge? 

The importance of knowing the make-up of the products you apply on your number one selling point cannot be overemphasized. That being said, some of the notable products that could accelerate cell turnover and result in a purge are: Hydroxy Acids (Glycolic, Lactic, Malic, Mandelic, Salicylic, Lactobionic Acids, Gluconolactone, and Fruit Acids), Retinoids (Retinol, Tretinoin, Adapalene, Tazarotene, Isotretinoin, Retinyl Palmitate), Benzoyl Peroxide, Chemical peels, Lasers, Microdermabrasion and other exfoliants. 

How long before this cup passes over me?

This is where patience comes in because a purge can last for as long as 4 months. Yes, you’ll just have to deal with it for that long. But then again, for adults, the cell renewal process takes a month. However, with age, this process slows down. Hence, skin purging should normally last anywhere between 4-6 weeks.

This piece was brought to you by Bare The Community, in partnership with YNaija.

For more information on navigating your personal skincare, please get professional guidance and recommendations.


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