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Skincare Real Talk: Does Oily Skin Purge More?

by Yu-Jun Park 08 Mar 2024

Hey there, skincare squad! 

Quick question. 

Do you often feel like you're fighting an uphill battle against your oily complexion? 

Does your skin often have a mind of its own, despite all the K-Beauty-inspired skincare rituals you have diligently adopted? 

One question that seems to be on many lips is, "does oily skin purge more?" 

Well, today, we're getting down to the nitty-gritty and dispelling the myths for good!

Does oily skin purge more? The short answer

Now, you might be pondering on what purging means in a skincare context. 

Skin purging is the process where your skin appears to worsen before it improves. 

This is because, when you're using products designed to exfoliate, they're speeding up your skin's natural process of shedding dead cells and producing new ones.

Now, the term 'oily skin' isn't just slang in the beauty industry. Oh no, it's a science-backed phenomenon

Your skin type is mainly determined by the amount and type of oils (also known as lipids) that your skin produces. Those with oily skin tend to have overactive sebaceous glands that produce an excess of sebum, an oily substance that helps protect the skin. 

How does this oiliness play into the skin purging equation, you ask? 

It's simple, really. The excess sebum produced by oily skin has a higher tendency to mix with dead skin cells and trap them in the pores - thus creating a little roadblock which results in blackheads, whiteheads and even full-blown pimples.

In comes your favorite skincare product, armed with skin purging agents.

These are typically exfoliating substances like alpha and beta hydroxy acids (AHAs and BHAs), retinoids, and sometimes even vitamin C. They speed up the skin’s cell turnover rate. This is essentially your skin's version of fast-forwarding through a boring scene in a movie.

What happens next is like a traffic jam during rush hour. 

As the product hastens this process, it brings all the gunk and grime lurking deep beneath your skin straight to the surface, creating what seems like an overnight pimple party!

It might look like your skin has donned a red, bulbous punk rock jacket overnight - something you didn't sign up for. But, it’s important to remember that this is a positive process. Skin purging means the product is doing its job and it's clearing out the older, clogged pores to make way for the fresh and radiant skin that’s just waiting to come forward.

Here's the deal – purging is a rehabilitation process for your pores. 

There might be temporary acne flare-ups, but remember: it's a means to an end. The overall endgame is healthier, clearer skin. 

So, despite the temporary inconvenience and cosmetic concerns, rest assured that your oily skin is undergoing a journey of deep-cleansing and transformation.

The relationship between oily skin and purging is, therefore, more of a blessing than a curse. 

Having a good understanding of this process can help manage expectations, dispel unnecessary fears, and most importantly, emphasize the importance of perseverance. 

Persisting with your skincare routine is absolutely vital here, as stopping midway could keep your skin stuck in the purging phase longer.

Indeed, oily skin might purge more than other skin types, but it’s also embarking on a great journey - purging its way to clear, radiant health. 

Think of it as a shedding snake or a caterpillar turning into a butterfly: it's not always a pretty process, but the results can be undeniably beautiful. 

There you have it, folks, the short answer is yes, but the full story is so much more.

Does purging mean your skin is getting better?

When active ingredients hit your skin, they switch on overwrite mode. 

Out with the old, in with the new! 

These agents compel your skin cells to multiply quicker, hastening the life cycle of your skin cells. 

The cause-effect scenario? The rapid cell turnover prompts those microscopic devils - the clogged pores and blocked sebum lurking beneath your skin's surface - to appear on the surface quicker than they typically would.

So, yes, that sudden army of zits, blackheads, and other blemishes is, indeed, a sign that your skin is evolving for the better. 

It’s not a welcome sight, certainly, but these unsightly guests are temporary residents. Their eviction notice has already been served by the new skincare product you've engaged.

Bear in mind though, that not every breakout can be classified as purging. Sometimes, it's just an allergic or irritating reaction to a product. 

Now, the million-dollar question: how do you differentiate between a purge and a breakout? 

Well, a purge will generally occur in areas where you regularly have breakouts. This change happens because there's a mass exodus of clogged pores from your skin. On the other hand, breakouts can randomly appear in places you've never had issues before. 

Moreover, the lifespan of purges is shorter than a typical breakout. While common breakouts may stick around for up to two weeks, purges tend to resolve themselves within a week or so.

Also, if after a month of introducing a harsh new product, your skin is still storming, chances are it's not a purge, but a sign your skin can't handle the product.

Purging and its aftermath are a testament that your skin is regenerating, replenishing, and getting stronger. 

Along with time, this process also requires patience. Your skin is essentially in the midst of a training regimen - gaining strength, tolerance, and resilience. 

It might seem heart-wrenching having to witness your skin go through this purge phase, but remember the saying - "no pain, no gain." In this case, the gain is smooth, robust skin that looks and feels healthier. 

In conclusion, purge away, dear skin! The results are worth the temporary turmoil. It's an open invitation for a healthy-skin party. 

Just don't forget to RSVP with ample hydration, sunscreen, and a bit of endurance. Dance to the rhythm of your skin's regeneration and greet the dawn of a fresh, rejuvenated and glowing complexion, ready to face whatever life throws at it.

So yes, when your skin is purging it's definitely getting better. 

Better pack a bag, those old skin cells are going on a one-way trip!

What makes skin purging worse?

So, your skin is going through a purging process, preparing for its radiant and smooth future, consider it as the superhero moment skin. 

But then, there are certain aesthetic arch nemeses lurking in the shadows that can escalate the flush dance into an aggressive scrimmage match. And quite frankly, a war on your face is the last thing you want.

For starters, the number one offender acting as a very disruptive party crasher is overly excessive skincare. With an arsenal of an array of products and active ingredients, your skin is under attack from all directions. 

This vast army looks and sounds appealing (yes, we see you, zealous skincare devotees with a ten-step regimen), but here's the catch.

More ingredients equals more purge. The simple mathematics of skincare. 

Think of your skin as a diligent-but-confused librarian. The vast collection of new and active ingredients become the never-ending pile of books that your skin/librarian has to sort through and categorize or purge. 

What was meant to be a smooth transition into luscious loveliness turns into a chaotic battleground, making purging a dreaded process. So, moderation is key here, darlings.

In tandem with the principle of not bombarding your skin, it's equally important to protect your delicate dermis from our stellar but skin-damaging friend, the Sun. 

UV rays and direct sun exposure can stress your skin, causing inflammation and redness. It's like Mother Nature slapping your freshly purged face with a scorching hot pan. Not a pretty sight, nor a pleasant feeling. 

So, bear in mind, it's not just seafarers who need a trusty SPF as their best mate. Integrate sun protection into your daily regimen to ensure your skin stays safe.

Keeping with the theme of skin safety, the next point of focus would be stressing the importance of allowing your skin time to adjust to new products. 

Remember that quiet new kid in class who had to slowly adjust to the wild landscape that was Middle School? Yeah, your skin is that kid. 

Introducing even a single new active ingredient skincare product can send your skin into a frenzy. To avoid this dermal drama, it's recommended introducing one new product at a time and letting it settle loosely into your skincare routine before bringing in the next one.

Despite the popular K-Beauty trend of '7 Skin Method' or other complicated and intense skincare regimes from the eastern world, what your skin needs, during the purge, is simplicity — and patience.

Finding the 'Goldilocks' zone in skincare, where the process isn't too harsh, nor too bland, is a journey unique to every skin type. 

So, let's not make it a war; keep it as a friendly chat between active ingredients and your skin cells. 

The purging party ('Star Wars' fanatics, think of it as a ‘Force Awakens' moment for your skin) should be a subtle, carefully guided transition - not a rushed, rough regime ruckus.

When does skin purging peak?

Fetch your skincare notes, as we’re about to delve into the strict timelines of skin purging. 

The dreaded peak of purging is typically observed around the 2-6 week mark of introducing a new skincare product into your routine. 

This is most common with products that rouse your skin cells into an accelerated cycle of turnover, potentially creating a whirlwind of sebum, dead skin cells, and unclogged debris. It's a peak moment when your skin gears up for the 'out with the old’ mission.

Envision it like spring cleaning - for your face.

Coining this phase as the ‘skin storm’, it is an essential period that unfolds after you've rewritten the rules of your skincare routine. 

It's a slightly turbulent phase - akin to reshuffling a disorganized wardrobe - but a crucial one nonetheless. After this phase, your skin enters a sustained calm aura, one that mirrors the silence after a powerful storm.

Interestingly, skincare experts believe that skin purging is not a linear process. It's not as simple as climbing up Mount Everest and smoothly descenting down. It's more of a rollercoaster ride, with salient peaks and unexpected troughs. 

Their duration and intensity depend on several factors such as your skin type, the nature of the product you're using, and even your specific biological makeup. 

As natural as it is frustrating, skin purging can come off as your skin mounting a protest, but really, it's a positive yet chaotic sign indicating that your skin is taking the reins of self-improvement. 

However, the poise and vibrance that follow this skin rebellion stage make every little breakout seem a trivial price!

Challenging as it might be, it is truly worth pressing ahead, curating your skincare rituals around your skin's unique characteristics, and embracing patience. Loving your skin every day, through each purge and peak, is an exercise of trust in the process. 

So brace for the skin storm, dance in the rain, weather the breakouts, but most importantly, celebrate your skin! 

Oil, purges, dry skin, and all - every part of your skincare journey contributes to an exceptional and deeply personal narrative. 

You're not only dreaming about radiant skin but working towards it, loving and nurturing it through the highs and lows. 

So step out, live your skincare dreams, trials and triumphs. 

And most importantly, take pride in your skin—in every phase and every purge!



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