i checked my products. now what?
congratulations on making it through auditing your skin stash! if you haven't already, learn how to put a complete active and acne-safe skin regimen together here. though your new regimen should improve your skin dramatically, the buck doesn’t necessarily stop here. there are a few things to consider and expect over the next several weeks while your skin starts the clearing process.
just like cleaning house, things may get a bit messier before they get better - but have no fear! with the right management tools in place, this acclimation and purging period will be over before you know it, and your clear skin will soon become a reality. like anything worth doing, diligence and patience is the name of the game, so persist with the process and rejoice in your new clear skin coming!
here you’ll learn your skin’s changes to come, what is and how to get through the purge, and how to strengthen your clearing program if you are still breaking out.
BIG PICTURE GOALS
the key objectives during this time are to:
- rebalance your skin, so it can tolerate the active products in your regimen that will do the work of clearing your skin.
- purge existing acne. remember, acne takes at least 1-3 months to form and show up on the skin’s surface.
- keep inflammation down. the less swelling your body and skin has, the less painful, inflamed zitty-zits and resulting pigmentation scarring you’ll get.
- prevent new acne from forming. your new active and acne-safe skin regimen will do a lot of this for us, but incorporating lifestyle changes can offer longer term clarity.
PURGING - old versus new acne
because acne takes 1-3 months to form before it’s visible on the surface of the skin, it takes at least that long for us to clear your skin. this is why although you change up your skin regimen to an active and acne-safe one, you’re still going to break out. these old seeds that started forming months ago are finally working their way up to and out of the skin. this process is called purging. the breakouts gradually start to decrease in size and frequency, and your skin eventually gets clear because once you identify and eliminate the triggers causing acne to form in the first place, no new acne is formed.
new acne is different, in that it’s constantly being generated by a trigger that is still present either in your products, or in your lifestyle. this acne never seems to slow down or get better. your skin breaks out the same if not more than before you started your new regimen, about 2-3 months later.
WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN TO YOUR FACE?
month 1: regimen acclimation + texture improvement
- your skin will rebalance. if your was skin really dried out, super oily or just plain confused before starting your new regimen, it shouldn’t be anymore, so long as you are using the right products for your skin type, in the right way.
- you’re still going to break out. this is totally normal and expected, and likely will be no worse than a bad day of acne you’ve already had. you can do this! any new zits should come and go faster than before, will likely be smaller, and heal faster than usual.
- you’ll notice the texture of your skin will start to improve, and skin’s inflammation will reduce.
- icing is super important always, especially as the skin prepares to purge!
month 2: purging
- purging continues. it may seem like you have more acne than the previous month as the bulk of the “old” acne comes to the surface. the bumps may appear to be more densely packed but again, these will come and go, and heal faster than usual.
- keep icing! controlling inflammation topically this way will be the key to keeping the purge as manageable as possible.
- so long as you aren’t using products, eating or doing things that are causing new acne to form, there’s generally only one round of purging. whew!
- BUT for some with really deep pores or lots of acne seeds, there may be a second or third round of purging. with the proper skincare regimen though, each round of purging should be easier than the last - less in quantity, less inflammation, and faster healing.
month 3: tail end of purging
- the end is almost near. you should start to see a slowdown of acne formation, bumps are more spread out from each other, and show up in less frequency. this is a sign that your skin is close to being done purging and clear skin is very soon to follow!
month 4 + onwards: clarity and maintenance.
- continue using only acne-safe products to maintain your clarity.
- after being clear for at least 3 months, the amount of active products - like acids and benzoyl peroxide - may be reduced, depending on how active your acne is. some folks may be able to maintain their clarity by exfoliating just once a day, some folks will need to continue exfoliating with their toner and serum each twice a day.
- what was once tolerated by your skin while purging may be too strong for it now, so if you need to, back off your active products slowly. we want to reduce irritation, but we want your skin to stay clear.
IT'S A LIFESTYLE
for most folks, especially those with acne in their genes or have had it for a long time, maintaining clear skin is a lifestyle. you may be able to get away with relaxing some of the stricter habits you started the program with, but you won't know until you try.
some folks will be able to eat whatever they want so long as their products are acne-safe, while some will discover they're more sensitive to coffee than they are to soy. and some with particularly active acne will have to continue to do it all.
if you do plan on reintroducing formerly or suspected acne triggers, do so slowly and one at a time. for example, choose between an old favorite hair product or working dairy back into your diet, but not both. this way if you do break out, you'll be able to more easily isolate which one is the culprit.
IF YOU’RE STILL BREAKING OUT
maybe you’re seeing some positive results, but you still want more clarity. consider:
- double- and triple-checking your products to make sure they’re acne-safe and right for your skin. you might be using something that is cloggy after all!
- try increasing the exfoliation part of your regimen; this can mean toning twice a day (if you aren’t already), or adding an exfoliating serum to your regime. start slow with the serum, perhaps once every other evening, working up to 1x/day, and eventually 2x/day as your skin can tolerate and needs.
or, if you’re doing everything correctly but are still breaking out with a vengeance, try:
- diving deep into the acne-safe lifestyle library blog to discover what other triggers may be lurking, and how to correct them.
- if the purge is gnarly, you may want to find a local esthetician to perform some extractions, and possibly chemical peels
- if you clear up and the acne all comes right back within a week or two, you may have a candida yeast imbalance. search our blog for more information about this, and consider finding a local integrative health practitioner or naturopath to help guide you through rebalancing your digestive flora.
- giving us a shout for some quick help, or scheduling an appointment with us to dive deeper with a one-on-one consultation.