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What is skin purging?

Here's what skincare experts means when they say your skin is purging.

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Your skin is purging. What does that mean?

Ever started a new product and your skin starts breaking out like crazy? You're not alone, it's actually very common! One in four people experience increased breakouts when starting a new product (AKA skin purging). Here's what's happening.


First, let's chat microcomedones. 

What is a microcomedone? Microcomedones are tiny clogged pores that will come to the surface of the skin at some point in the future. Although invisible to the naked eye, they are tiny pouches of oil, dead skin and bacteria inside pores. When these come to the surface, active acne, or a comedone, forms. Did you know that up to 30% of areas that look like clear skin actually have microcomedones within the pores? 

Comedone formation process

Why do you get breakouts after starting new products?

When you start new skincare products like acids (AHAs and BHAs) or a retinoid, they exfoliate the top layer of skin, as well as increasing cellular turnover. This means these microcomedones come to the surface faster, resulting in visible breakouts–known as skin purging.

The most common Barefaced products that you may initially experience increased breakouts are Toning Pads, Toning Pads II, Glow Peel Pads and RetinAL Skin Therapy. While these may cause purging initially, these products will help to minimize future breakouts and shorten the duration of the breakout because they promote increased cellular turnover.

Skin purging process infographic

How do you treat skin purging?

Give it time! Although you may experience more breakouts when you start a new product–DON'T STOP! Consistency is key. Using your products routinely will help to speed up the purging process and get you to clear skin, faster. Not everyone experiences increased breakouts when starting new products, but if you do, be patient! It can take up to 8-12 weeks for your skin to adjust as those microcomedones come to the surface.

If you're still experiencing breakouts after that time period, you might need to adjust your skincare routine. We're here to help! Message us and one of our Skincare Specialists will help you to create a skincare routine customized to your needs.


Other common reactions when starting a new product

Purging is one reaction when starting a new active ingredient, but others you may experience include:

    • overall sensitivity
    • flaking
    • redness
    • tightness
    • dryness
    • itchiness

These anticipated reactions have the same 6-12 week adjustment period, but just like purging, never stop usage completely. You may need to cut back frequency while your skin adjusts to the actives, but stopping will put you back at square one, having to start with the irritation and sensitivity all over again each time you try using the product.

What’s not common is severe rash all over. If you experience that rare reaction, stop use and see a local skincare professional.


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