If you’ve started using retinol you’ve probably experienced purging, this is normal. This is how to handle it
Retinol speeds up cell turnover and this brings up any acne currently developing on your skin, this shows up as purging. You can manage this purging by keeping your skin hydrated and moisturized, keeping away from the sun and refraining from picking at the new acne.
When using a new product like retinol or any other retinoid you’ll probably develop a fresh new crop of pimples.
This side effect is a classic case of things getting worse before they can get better.
If you ask someone who has used retinol before they’ll probably tell you that their skin broke out or started “purging” straight after starting the treatment.
In the end, it was great for the skin and well worth it if you grin and bear it.
Retinol purging period
What is retinol?
Retinol is an ingredient derived from vitamin A. It can be used topically or taken orally depending on what you need the treatment for.
It offers a variety of benefits such as collagen production, helping with acne, fading hyperpigmentation, treating sunburn and helping to shrink pores among other things.
This product will give you younger, clearer more beautiful looking skin.
Retinols are non-prescription products, other types of retinoids can only be accused by prescription because they are stronger.
Dermatologists still agree that retinol is beneficial for the skin even though you can get it over the counter.
What is the purging stage?
This stage can happen right after you start using a new acne product. When you take retinol for acne, it’s pretty much a given that your skin will purge.
Your skin forms pimples under the skin weeks before you even notice them. It takes skin 8 weeks to form a pimple.
A “pre pimple” is known as a comedone. A comedone is what acne is before it surfaces, (some people call this a blind pimple).
If the skin is left to its own devices then the skins will bring up the acne later. The skins natural cell turnover cycle will bring the pimple to the surface, retinoids speed this process up.
A faster cell turnover brings all the comedones to the surface and they form pimples. This happens in the first two weeks of product use.
Is my skin purging or breaking out?
Breaking out: After you start using a new product you might notice that your skin starts to break out.
This new break out is more inflamed, red and bigger than your normal breakouts.
This break out also occurs where your skin normally does not break out.
The breakouts keep cropping up and even after using the product for over 8 weeks you’re still breaking out. If this happens, discontinue using the product, it is irritating your skin.
Purging: This happens when your current acne increases in number.
The size of the new pimples compared to the old ones stay the same and the location of the new acne is where you usually get acne.
The only difference is that there seems to be much more acne on the skin all of a sudden.
The thing is: it doesn’t suddenly come out of nowhere, it has been forming in the skin for weeks.
Surviving the situation:
Stay away from the sun: The skin becomes very sensitive when you use exfoliating products, especially strong products such as retinol.
It will make your skin very sensitive to the sun and if you go out into the sun unprotected you can get damaged skin.
Stay in if possible or use a good sunscreen like this one. If you don’t want to be oily when using sunscreen read this article on how to keep sunscreen from looking oily.
Moisturization: This is very important if you want to minimise the amount of drying and flaking on your skin as a result of using the retinol.
Be kind to your skin: While you’re on the treatment your skin is changing rapidly and is very sensitive as well.
You don’t want to irritate it by being aggressive with it. Make sure you incorporate gentle products in your routine when using retinol.
Hydrate: Your skin not only needs moisture from the outside but it also needs it from the inside, you need to make sure that you are drinking an adequate amount of water. This will make the purging process go smoother
Don’t pick: If you are one to pick at your pimples this tip may be difficult for you. You have to avoid picking at the new pimples as well as avoid picking at the flaking or peeling the skin if you have any.
Small concentrations: If you use a treatment that has a smaller concentration of the active ingredient you’ll have to deal with less severe purging.
Learn to live with it: It’ll all be worth it.
How long does it take for skin to adjust to retinol?
When you start using retinol not only can you experience purging but your skin needs to adjust to anything else that comes with using retinol, this includes your skin getting red, dry and flaky.
This can last up to 2-6 weeks as your skin adjusts to this new product.
After this time your skin texture would have completely changed for the better.
To make this journey easier you should apply a pea-sized amount of retinol to your face then after a few minutes you should use your moisturiser to help cope with any dryness or flaking you may experience.
Can you use retinol every night?
When you start using retinol, even if you start off using a mild retinol, you should use it every third night.
This slow start won’t be such a shock to your skin and allows it to get used to the product.
After the skin has gotten more used to it you can start using it every other night. If your skin can handle it then you can use the product every night.
Is skin purging a good thing?
Skin purging is a good thing, even though it doesn’t look good while you’re experiencing it.
When your skin purges it’s a sign that all the dormant acne in your skin is being removed from your face and you’re well on your way to healthier skin.
Can retinol damage skin?
Retinol won’t damage your skin, it will actually do the opposite, it will help your skin become stronger and thicker.
As you use it the retinoid will stimulate collagen production in the skin.
Collagen is abundant in the skin in your younger years but the skin produces less of it from the age of 25. Collagen is what keeps your skin elastic.
A fear is that because retinol encourages cell turnover this will thin and damage the skin, this is not the case.
Retinol only encourages the skin to regulate its own cell turnover so your skin won’t over-exfoliate itself
Do you wash retinol off in the morning?
No, you don’t need to wash your retinol off in the morning. The retinol will sink into your skin and get absorbed by the skin. By the time you wake up, your skin won’t be sensitive or vulnerable.
If you choose to apply retinol in the morning you shouldn’t apply it without sunscreen.
This product is generally used at night because the retinol molecule is highly unstable when exposed to UV light and can change your skin making it more vulnerable to sun damage.
Can retinol and vitamin C be used together?
No retinol and vitamin C cannot be used together. These two ingredients work well at different ph levels.
Generally, vitamin C products work well at a ph of less than 3.5. Generally, the optimum ph for retinol to work is 5.5 to 6.
When used together they won’t work as best as they can. If you use these products together you stand a chance of causing irritation on the skin.
Vitamin C serum can affect skin differently. If you use vitamin C serum and experience irritation this article looks at why this happens.
If you feel that vitamin C is giving your dry skin, read this article. You may even feel that your vitamin C serum is giving you breakouts if so read this article.
Can I use vitamin C in the morning and retinol at night?
Yes, you can use vitamin c in the morning and retinol at night. This is actually how you should be using your skincare products.
Using a vitamin C serum in the morning is a good idea because vitamin c serum works well with sunscreen.
Retinol should be used at night because it can make your skin sensitive to light and it itself can be degraded by sunlight.
Can I put moisturizer over retinol?
Yes, you should use a moisturiser over your retinol. Not using a moisturiser over your retinol can actually make your skin look and feel quite bad.
The flakiness, redness and dryness that retinoid can cause is called retinization.
To help ease the effects of this you need to use the best ultra-hydrating moisturiser you can get your hands on, it will ease the symptoms of retinization
Can you use retinol under eyes?
You should use retinol under the eyes, this is the area that will benefit the most from retinol.
The skin under the eyes is the thinnest and the most delicate, it is also the place where you’ll get wrinkles the earliest.
Using retinol under the eyes will make them look younger and fresher.
The collagen stimulating effects of retinol will do wonders for your eyes reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and helping to keep the skin looking supple and fresh.
An eye cream can also cause irritation or burning, if you experience this read this article.
What age should you start using retinol?
The body produces less collagen by your mid 20’s when this happens the skin will start to lose its natural elasticity.
This is also when the early stages of sun damage start to crop up, the skin will start to degrade because of free radical damage and pollution. This is a great time to start using retinol.
What percentage retinol should I use?
Even though you can get retinol over the counter you still need to be careful when you start using it.
How much you use will be determined by your skin type, your skins tolerance and the issues you want to address.
You should start off with a low strength retinol if you haven’t tried retinol before, low strength retinol products contain 0.01 percent retinol.
Use these if you want to reduce the size of your pores and need help with dealing with the early signs of ageing
If you’re more used to using retinol and you want to remedy an uneven skin tone and want to firm up your skin then you should be using a more moderate strength retinol 0.04 to 0.1 percent. You can use this 2-3 nights a week.
If your skin concerns need a stronger solution and you have deep wrinkles or a very uneven skin tone you can use a higher strength retinol, something with 0.5 or 1 percent retinol.
I hope you enjoyed this article looking at the retinol purging period.
Remember to keep your skin hydrated, moisturised, don’t pick at it and stay away from the sun. If you enjoyed this article or found it useful then please share it.