acne ingredient science vegan skincare

Skin Purging: The ”It Gets Worse Before It Gets Better” Myth

A new skin care product added to your everyday routine will, if not carefully selected, cause your skin to react negatively.

Redness, inflammation, peeling, blemishes or rashes are signs that your skin is aggravated – but with every new skin care product or complete line that joins the burgeoning market, so too follows the deeply-rooted myth that your skin must suffer before you will see significant results.

Your everyday skin care regimen (generally this should include some form of cleanser, moisturiser and/or sunscreen depending on your skin type) should yield consistently positive results for your skin.

There is minimal data available discussing what is commonly known as ”purging” of the skin – often detailed on beauty blogs and websites as several hellish days before your skin improves dramatically – a kind of hard-won proof that your product is, after all, beneficial.

There are a select number of active ingredients (this involves categorisation of a key ingredients and its approved claims) that may legitimately warrant some level of skin reaction as the ingredient begins to work on your skin. Benzoyl peroxide & retinoids can cause redness, irritation, dry & flakey skin especially when used for the first time and/or with continued use.

A 2008 article within “The Journal of Clinical & Aesthetic Dermatology” by James Q. Del Rosso discusses ‘acne flaring’ (note: not ‘purging’) in relation to treatment with combined tretinoin & clindamycin phosphate (two commonly prescribed anti-acne topical medications). This type of treatment across this study was not found to exacerbate acne when used within a vehicle formulation (one blended with other ingredients to deliver the active ingredient to the skin in the ideal manner), although a temporary increase in acne was noted when a monotherapy (one active compound) was used alone in comparison trials.

A 2008 article in the clinical journal Cutis also acknowledges the benefits of vehicle formulations when treating acne topically (combatting erythema (skin redness) and dryness successfully).

Aside from the aforementioned key active ingredients, there is no evidence to suggest that skin behaves in such a manner that it would purge itself of impurities with the introduction of a new product and then reveal healthier skin as a result.

Always watch your skin for signs of inflammation when you trial a product, and learn if your skin is sensitive to particular ingredients (essential oils, certain non-fragrant plant oils or other filler ingredients). Each addition to your bathroom cabinet should provide only benefits to your skin, and a good skin care routine, like a balanced diet, does not require constant variation to remain beneficial.

If a product does not serve you, don’t put your skin through an extra week of trauma – browse through our recommended products that will suit most skin types.

Have you experienced a negative skin reaction to a product before? Let us know in our comments section below.


Team VSC

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