Initial worsening – What is behind Skin Purging? - alkmene

Initial worsening – What is behind Skin Purging?

You’ve introduced a new product into your skincare routine, but instead of the desired improvement in skin texture, your blemishes are getting worse? This can actually be a very normal effect with certain active ingredients, and it even has its own name: skin purging. What exactly this is, what triggers the effect and what you need to keep in mind, you will learn in this article.



What is Skin Purging?

The term skin purging refers to the effect of the initial worsening of skin impurities such as blackheads when a new skin care product is introduced. This means that at the beginning there are significantly more impurities, blackheads and pimples, although the active ingredient of the new product is supposed to reduce precisely these. “Purging” can be interpreted as cleansing, flushing or even purification. Skin purging therefore means the cleansing and purification of the skin.

Cleansing of the skin and the aggravation of skin impurities does not sound very appropriate at first, does it? At least, that’s how many people feel when they notice an initial worsening – the first thought is often: “The product doesn’t work for me because I react to it”. However, the connection is not that simple.


Why does skin purging occur?

Skin purging or initial aggravation often occurs when the skin comes into contact with new active ingredients that have cell renewing charcteristics. It is therefore assumed that these active ingredients, due to their cell renewing charcteristics, bring deep-seated impurities to the skin surface more quickly and thus free the skin from deep impurities and blockages of the pores. These are therefore products, or rather ingredients, that accelerate the cleansing of the skin through increased cell turnover and thus bring initially “still hidden” impurities to the surface – thus causing an initial aggravation.

Infografic on the course of skin purging

Which active ingredients lead to skin purging?

As always, the following also applies to this topic: Every skin is individual and every skin reacts differently to products and ingredients. It is therefore not possible to make a general statement as to which active ingredients lead to skin purging and which do not result in an initial aggravation effect. However, since skin purging often occurs with active ingredients that have cell-renewing characteristics, there is at least a higher probability that initial worsening can occur with certain ingredients. These include, for example:

  • Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) such as glycolic acid, lactic acid or citric acid.
  • Beta-hydroxy acid also known as (BHA) salicylic acid
  • Vitamin A derivatives such as retinol
  • Benzoyl peroxide (BPO) (usually prescribed for acne treatment)

How long does the initial worsening last?

The duration of the Skin Purging effect is also quite individual. While for some the initial worsening subsides after a few weeks, for others the effect can last up to three months. As a rule, the initial worsening does not last longer – so it is worth enduring.


Glühbirnen Modul

IMPORTANT: Conversely, it does not automatically mean that a product or ingredient does not work if no skin purging effect occurs and no initial worsening occurs. For some, the effect remains absent – this is also completely normal and may indicate that there are few to no deep-seated skin impurities that need to be brought out first.

How do you know if it is an initial worsening or an allergic reaction?

However, when you integrate a new product into your skin care routine, it is possible that your skin reacts allergically to it. In this case, it is not an initial aggravation, which is worth persevering with, but the skin shows a defensive reaction against one (or more) ingredients. For this reason, it is very important to recognize the difference between an initial aggravation and an allergic reaction and to react accordingly.


Infografic on how to differenciate skin purginf and an allergic reaction

In case of an allergic reaction, you should definitely discontinue the product and rely on a mild care. Aloe vera, for example, can help to soothe the skin. Cooling the skin also relieves itching and helps with swelling or irritation. However, if the symptoms do not improve but even worsen or persist for several hours or days, it makes sense to consult a doctor.

What to do if there is an initial aggravation from Skin Purging?

If you can rule out that it is an allergic reaction to the product and your skin is cleansing, the main thing is to be patient. Don’t stress yourself out with the new blemishes or the temporary worsening of your skin’s appearance. This is perfectly normal and shows that the skin is “freeing” itself from deep-seated impurities.

To help your skin do this, you can use the following tips:

Your skin is “working” and fighting against inflammation and impurities. It is especially important during this time that the pores are not additionally clogged.

If the initial aggravation occurs due to a chemical peel such as the use of salicylic acid, it is important that no other peels are applied to the skin during this time. In particular, you should refrain from mechanical peels during this time, as your skin can be very sensitive.

It is important that the newly formed skin cells are not inflamed and that existing inflammations are inhibited. You should therefore wash your skin with a mild, anti-inflammatory cleanser that, at best, is also non-comedogenic. What non-comedogenic care is, you can read here. For example, our gentle MY TEA TREE OIL cleansing foam is suitable for cleansing, which gently cleanses the skin and counteracts inflammation through its antibacterial effect.

Drink enough and hydrate your skin to help it heal. Again, it’s important to use non-comedogenic skincare and not clog pores with “heavy” creams, such as our MY TEA TREE OIL face cream.

It’s a no-brainer: keep your hands away from your face! Hands are full of bacteria that your sensitive skin can’t use right now. Try to keep your hands off your face as much as possible and avoid “picking” at blemishes. This will prevent dirt and bacteria from aggravating skin inflammation and blemishes.

And most importantly: skin exacerbations are just as natural and normal as skin improvements – both are part of it and both may be a part of our Skin Story!

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Initial worsening – What is behind Skin Purging?

Initial aggravations due to skin purging when introducing a new product can be quite normal. However, it is important that you are able to distinguish initial aggravations from allergies and know how to care for your skin during this time.