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The Science of Skin Purging

Published: March 3, 2022.


The term ‘skin purging’ gets thrown around quite often but it’s important to understand how the skin works in order to know what is meant by this popular term. Skin works by shedding layers of dead skin cells and bringing forth new skin cells. It’s how the top most layer of the epidermis stays fortified and strong enough to protect everything underneath. 

Skin purging is constantly happening which is often what causes acne, pimples, and breakouts. As dead skin cells begin to shed, they can attach to dirt and grime, clogging pores and creating blackheads, pustules, and zits. The buzzword we keep seeing throughout beauty blogs refers to the process in which certain skincare ingredients increase the largest organ’s natural turnover rate - making skin visibly look like it is ‘purging’ or ‘detoxifying. A few things to keep in mind: 

The skin purging process is already happening naturally and can be the cause of things like whiteheads, acne, and breakouts. Healthy skin purges itself on a routine basis and may look differently for those with acne-prone skin or sensitive skin. 

The term ‘skin purging’ we’re using in this article relates to this process, on fast forward.

It might look like dry skin when in fact it is additional layers of dead skin, sloughing off.

When the skin starts to rapidly cycle through layers, it can often appear flakey, oily, dry, or uneven.

It happens for a variety of reasons and is usually a good thing. 

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"The stress of everyday life easily alters our natural ability to detox, and as our skin is connected to our immune system function, it's important to regularly purge the skin. It's a benefit to the entire body!" - Elisabeth Nehme, Board Certified Esthetician and [ comfort zone ] Master Educator


This process generates a host of symptoms, depending on the type of skin you have. However, a majority of people who are experiencing skin purging because of a purging or detoxifying product they are using may notice the following:


Skin may become transparent and disconnected from itself, layering or flaking off in chunks. 


As old skin begins to fall off, some may get stuck in pores causing it to appear like you’re having a very bad bout of acne. 

Dryness or uneven texture

Skin may struggle to remain hydrated by producing sebum. This can lead to multitone skin or dry patches.  

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Chances are, you’ve selected a product that is working to increase the skin’s cell turnover rate. While this is most frequently the cause, there are a host of other reasons that skin may suddenly decide to purge itself. 

Change in skincare routine

 Think of the skin as a living, breathing organ. It responds to whatever environment it is in, including product triggers. As we introduce new skincare products to the dermis, it works to take them in and process them while maintaining its pH balance. Skin purging may suddenly occur with a change in skincare routine because your skin is working overtime to restore itself to a normal balance - thus it may be shedding lots and lots of extra skin cells.

/skin regimen/ Enzymatic Powder. If you’ve recently committed to switching up your skincare routine, try out this enzymatic cleanser. Gentle yet effective ingredients like chlorella and rice starch softly scrub away excess sebum and dead skin cells so excess purging build up doesn’t clog pores. 


/skin regimen/ Retinol Booster. After washing with a gentle cleanser and toning with a moisturizing toner, apply this retinol booster to generate quicker cell turnover and reduce premature aging signs. 

By incorporating powerful, acidic ingredients, face acids act as exfoliants that remove the surface layer of skin to reveal a bright, glowing complexion. Some face washes that use salicylic acid or glycolic acid can cause skin purging as well. 

Facial treatments

Many spa treatments, like oxygen facials, chemical peels, and microdermabrasion may start a period of skin purging. 
Schedule a [ comfort zone ] facial with an experienced esthetician near you using our spa locator

Change in diet

If you’ve had a diet that consists of high concentrations of a certain ingredient like refined sugar, dairy, or alcohol, your skin may begin purging at the sudden stop of consuming these ingredients. 


Believe it or not, a sunburn is a form of your skin ‘purging’ in an attempt to heal itself. When the sun’s powerful UV rays injure the top layer of the skin, the entire organ works to sooth the burn by generating new skin cells.


Don’t panic if your skin has suddenly started to purge. It’s not a bad thing. Skin goes through phases and has all the power it needs to equalize itself back out after you’ve introduced healthy, natural skin care products to your routine.  

Be patient

Skin cycles every 28 days or so. 

Don't pick

It’s tempting to want to remove flakey layers or pop pustules, but this is no good. You may end up scaring the skin or causing it to purge for even longer. 

Stay the course

Continue your routine treatments unless otherwise advised by a dermatologist or trusted esthetician. Your skin is most likely purging because you were using toxic cleansers, toners, and moisturizers to begin with. 

Avoid make up or other irritants

Makeup can dry out the skin even more. Try your best to avoid using it and instead opt for a non comedogenic sunscreen with an SPF 30 to SPF 50. 

Avoid active ingredients like benzoyl peroxide

If you have acne-prone skin or oily skin, it’s likely you’ve utilized face washes with benzoyl peroxide. If your skin starts purging because of a change in skin care routine, injury, or diet, take a break from using harsh active ingredients, like benzoyl peroxide.

Drink plenty of water

Skin cells require hydration to remain plump and refreshed. As old skin sloughs off, you’ll want the new cells to be hydrated and healthy as they fill in. 

Get a hydra facial or oxygen facial

Both of these spa procedures quicken cell turnover while offering skin a large dose of hydration and oxygen. Both are vital to health cell production. 


Choosing high quality products is essential to creating a healthy, glowing complexion, no matter the cleansing regimen one intends to implement. 

[ comfort zone ] products utilize high quality ingredients that are never tested on animals and don’t compromise the planet's health. 

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 Incorporate retinol and tretinoin into your daily routine and combat signs of aging. 

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Discover the best ways to successfully remove blackheads and minimize the risk of their return.
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Learn more about the power of niacinamide and retinol for youthful, vibrant and healthy skin.

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