2 years ago

Purging or breaking out?

Hello! I'm new to WIMJ. My oily, aging, sensitive skin has been dehydrated and breaking out in bumps, zits, irritation for a few weeks (or maybe even months?) now. I was convinced exfoliation and a good face oil might help but they did not. Internet research about irritation brought me here : )

Between this site and another one that evaluates products for comedogenic ingredients I realized pretty much every product I was using contains irritants or pore-clogging ingredients. Picked out some products using the Routine Builder on this site and so far am only using the cleanser, moisturizer and sunscreen.

It's been less than a week since I started using these products. My skintone is already much more more even and appears far more moisturized--sometimes even downright oily (which used to be typical for my skin). I realize it may take some time for the bumps and irritation to really subside but I've also been noticing some new pimples and am wondering if my skin is purging? The acne I was getting before was buried under dead, dry skin and these are definitely more oily (for lack of a better term). My skin seems healthier in all honesty but I can't tell if one of the new products is breaking me out or if my skin is just adjusting to the new routine. Any insight you could offer would be appreciated!

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Hi Mary! Purging will only occur with retinoids or retinol or sometimes AHAs (glycolic acid, lactic acid). This is because they increase cell turnover and bring deeper layers of the skin to the surface. A moisturizer or cleanser or spf without these ingredients will not cause purging. If you are noticing unusual breakouts it could be a reaction to one of the products you are using. Unfortunately I can’t see the products in the image you shared, they are too small in the mobile view. I think a good basic moisturizer and cleanser and spf are a great start to bring you skin back to a good baseline and then you can add more active ingredients like retinol. La Roche posay’s cicaplast baume is a great soothing moisturizer that I like to use when my skin gets a little crazy, it nurtures it back to health.


Agree with Lila that it is probably not purging. In theory, it could be a reaction to the new products, but since you had breakouts before and you feel that overall your skin is healthier now, my guess is that the cause for acne is the same as before (e.g. hormonal). I'd suggest using a spot treatment with salicylic acid on the inflamed spots until you feel that your skin is no longer sensitized / irritated. (Product example:

Once your skin is no longer irritated, you can introduce the actives against acne (I think you already have an azelaic acid product recommended in your AM routine, and a bakuchiol serum in the PM). A retinoid product (e.g. or would be an alternative to the bakuchiol serum - but it can cause more irritation, so only go for it once you are confident your skin barrier is healthy.


Thank you so much for your insight Lila and Maria! I really appreciate it : ) So thankful that I found this website and community