Skin Purging – What You Need to Know

Skin Purging – What You Need to Know

Posted by Kiri Yanchenko on

Have you ever started a new skincare routine to help fight acne, only to find your skin suddenly breaks out? It can be very distressing and make you feel disheartened with your new regime.

Before ditching your new skincare products, it is worthwhile taking a moment to identify if your skin is having an adverse reaction to some of the ingredients or if it is temporary skin purging.

What is a skin purge?

'Purging' is the term given to breakouts triggered after starting a new skincare treatment containing active ingredients designed to boost skin cell turnover. Ingredients such as BHAs, AHAs, retinoids, vitamin C etc.

It is temporary and if you persevere through it, you can achieve great results as it's a sign the skincare may actually be working.

 Skin Purging

What Causes Your Skin to Purge?

It has to do with your skin renewal cycle. 

Pimples and acne can develop when sebaceous glands produce too much oil or sebum. This oversupply mixes with dead skin cells and gets stuck in the pores (called the microcomedone). This becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. Once this occurs, our immune system activates and can result in skin inflammation. This process can take 4-6 weeks depending on our age.

Particular treatments help to speed up this process and shed our dead skin cells faster. Using active products that contain ingredients such as retinols and AHAs  are more likely to cause your skin to purge. In the short term, this acceleration of cell turn over can trigger more breakouts.

How do I Identify Skin Purging?

If your skin is purging you will see a temporary worsening of your pre-existing skin condition i.e. if you have clogged pores under the skins surface they may turn into acne and if you have small pimples, they may get larger. Skin purging may also appear as tiny red bumps on your skin, whiteheads and/or blackheads.

It can be challenging to decipher whether your skin is suffering a reaction to a product or if it is indeed purging.

To assess which one it is, a simple first step is to look at the products you are using. If the products contain active ingredients, it is highly likely that your skin is purging.

Some of the common triggers/treatments that can cause your skin to purge are:

  • Retinoids
  • AHAs – alpha hydroxy acids, like lactic acid and glycolic acid
  • BHAs – beta hydroxy acids, like salicylic acid
  • Exfoliants (scrubs, brushes, enzyme exfoliants)
  • Vitamin C
  • Topical treatments such as Benzoyl peroxide
  • Laser treatments
  • Chemical peels
  • Microdermabrasion

If you are using a 'regular' non-activated product such as a new moisturiser, serum or cleanser it should not cause purging. If such products do trigger new clogged pores, intensify skin irritation or cause a rash, it will be beneficial to understand what ingredients are not agreeing with your skin, which you can do by a system of elimination or seeking help from a professional.

Skin Purging

How Long Does a Purge Last?

The answer to the question "how long does purging last" can vary as it depends on the person, as well as the type of products that you're using. You need to give active skincare products adequate time to work. For example, using retinoids, the purge may last up to 6-8 weeks, whilst for AHAs and BHAs the purge may only last a few weeks.

It is well known that retinoids, AHAs and BHAs will cause purging for most people but in the long term are incredibly helpful for acne. Therefore, your persistence can really pay off. Generally at the age of 30 your skin cell turnover is around 4 weeks, however as you get older this cycle can take longer.

If you are not seeing an improvement in your skin after 2-3 months, it could mean the ingredients are not suitable for your skin type or maybe you are experiencing other factors such as hormone changes, stress or diet-related issues. In this case, it may be worth visiting the dermatologist for advice.

Skin Purging

Can you Minimise Skin Purging?

When trying a new active skincare product it is a good idea to let your skin adapt gradually. 

You can do this by: 

  • Introducing the products slowly. This may not stop your skin purging but may reduce the intensity. Always patch test a new product first, especially if you have sensitive skin and are prone to reactions, before using it on large areas of your skin.
  • Spread out the usage of the products i.e. if you are using a few active products; apply them at different times of the day i.e. morning, noon and evening.
  • Avoid touching your face as much as you can and as always don't pop or pick your pimples.
  • Avoid the sun as much as you can as the skin cell turnover will make your skin much more susceptible to damage from the UV rays. Always wear the appropriate protection if you do have to spend time in the sun such as a non-greasy sunscreen, hat, long sleeve clothing and sunglasses.
  • Minimise the amount of products that you are using on your skin. The fewer products you use the less likely your skin is to become irritated so try skinimilism.
  • Trying lower strength options or products designed for sensitive skin such as the AMPERNA® range.

The AMPERNA® range, developed by Kiri Yanchenko was developed to help address the gap in the market for active skin care, gentle enough for sensitive skin. Kiri pioneered for 5 years to develop the AMPERNA® range, working in conjunction with one of Australia’s most experienced skincare chemists and testing with people suffering relevant skin conditions.

The ingredients in AMPERNA® help create the perfect conditions for your skin to shine. They contain only the necessary base ingredients plus skin-changing actives, such as a probiotic complex, glycolic acid and vitamins B and C. All free from nasties, including but not limited to: sulfates, parabens, aluminium, synthetic fragrance, synthetic colours and bleaches.

If you have just started using the AMPERNA® range or are considering doing so, you may have questions on how to best introduce the products into your skincare regime. Kiri can help you tailor the products to your individual needs and welcomes any questions at

For more information on the AMPERNA® brand go to



Blog article author

Written By Kiri Yanchenko

Kiri Yanchenko is the founder and CEO of AMPERNA®. Having had severe pustular acne and perioral dermatitis herself, she has a deep personal understanding of the challenges faced by having problem skin. She has over 10 years of experience in skincare and holistic skin coaching and is passionate about helping everyone feel comfortable in their own skin.

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