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Skin Purging 101: Why Some Products Break You Out

Have you ever picked up a product because everyone else was raving about it, only to find your skin suddenly full of bumps? Maybe you even burned some sensitive areas of your face by accident. Well, that usually happens with chemical exfoliators. Don't worry, though, we're here to explain why some of these products break you out, and offer a fix (as well as some preventive measures you can take!).

Woman Examining Face in A Mirror

Purging 101

The sudden bumps and flare-ups you experience after you start using retinol or a sort of chemical exfoliator (AHA, BHA) is oftentimes referred to as purging, and it occurs because your skin's normal cell turnover rate is being modified.

Is purging helpful?

Normally, adult skin cells change every 30 days or so - when you add a chemical exfoliator, you're prompting your cells to change much faster. The results of faster cell turnover are amazing, but you first need to let your skin eliminate the dirt, sebum and other oils trapped underneath the outer layer of your epidermis. We'd say that purging is a necessary evil you can endure for some days if you're keen on getting to the holy grail.

Am I purging or having a bad reaction?

Because purging is simply accelerating cell production on your face, you will likely get bumps, mild acne or blackheads in the same places you usually do. Bad reactions to products can happen in new areas, or all over your face; these might also be more severe, show up faster and disappear later than a purge (which can take up to 1-2 days since starting your new treatment to appear, and goes away fast).

How to treat or prevent your breakout

1. Change your timing

As always, you should apply your retinol or acids at night. That gives your formula plenty of time to work its magic. However, skin reacts differently from one person to another. Regardless of what you've read online, you should always trust your skin to let you know if something is too much. Getting surface burns from your acidic treatments is a clear sign that you and your product should take a break and focus on yourselves... Space out your routine by skipping a day or two, and increase your applications up to daily use once your skin is healed and has built some 'resistance'.

Don't go too long without using it though! One of the rookie mistakes of using acids on your skin is giving up before your purge has ended. If you thought retinol was going to give you a flawless face in a couple days, think again. It can take weeks, even months to see those gorgeous results everyone's posting on social media, so keep at it!

Serum Jierra Beauty organic serum
Superior Complexion Antioxidant Serum

2. Soothe, repair and protect

A lavish serum and SPF are the best friends you can add into your routine. If your skin barrier has been stripped too much by the acids, you should be helping it repair by applying an oil-based serum. You can then apply SPF directly afterwards (if you have a daily acid night routine), or use SPF throughout the day and apply the serum at night, in your day off from using acids. We've also written more about why oils are needed instead of water in our 'Dry vs. Dehydrated' blog, which you might find useful.

Now, the pressing question is, which serum should you go for? Because applying exfoliating products is such a nit-picky routine, we think you should have a serum that's reliable, relaxing and rewarding. In other words, that's our Superior Complexion Antioxidant Serum! Packed with organic oils and sporting a silky texture, this formula brings you the added benefits of antioxidants, along with a relaxing natural scent.

Check out the incredible oils we've packed in here:


Have you already gone through a purging session? Let us know how it went, and find some extra skin advice over on our Instagram - @jierrabeauty.

If you'd like to stay up to date with our exciting upcoming launches and get a discount on your first order, join our newsletter!

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