Skin Purging Survival Guide with Paula’s Choice - En Route

Skin Purging Survival Guide with Paula’s Choice

The Ultimate Guide to Skin Purging with Paula’s Choice Expert Desiree Stordahl.

Thanks to the many dermatologists on TikTok, there has been a rapid rise of popularity of rentinoids in Skincare. Known to be the holy grail for anti0-aging, retinoids aren’t for everyone. So to help keep your delicate skin safe we asked Paula’s Choice Director of Applied Research and Education Desiree Stordahl for some expert advice on the good, the bad and the Retinoid uglies.

What is skin purging?

Desiree explains “Skin purging is a temporary reaction that some people experience when they start using a new skin care product, like a retinoid or chemical exfoliator. It may look like breakouts, but it’s actually the product working by unearthing clogs lurking deep within your pores, bringing them to the surface faster.”

“Think of it as spring cleaning for your skin – pushing out the gunk that would have eventually surfaced anyway. With ongoing use, skin clears up. This can be confusing because it looks like your skin is getting worse before it gets better, but purging typically only lasts 2-4 weeks.”

What if it lasts longer?

“If it persists longer, it might be that the product is too strong for your skin or it’s an irritating formula altogether. Or something else entirely – hormones, medications, etc. A dermatologist can help diagnose the culprit.”

Desiree’s tips for skin purging:

  1. Allow skin time to acclimate—hold off on trying out other “active” skin care products while purging.
  2. Hit pause on professional chemical peels or laser treatments during the purge phas —those can exacerbate irritation.
  3. Make sure the rest of your skin care routine is ultra-gentle. Sneaky irritants like fragrance and harsh alcohols are commonly found in skin care formulas. Run your products through Beautypedia Skin Care Ingredient Checker to identify any problematic ingredients.
  4. Ditch abrasive scrubs—those will agitate and inflame skin even more during the purging period.
  5. Resist the urge to pick at bumps/clogged pores as they pop up. If necessary, use pimple patches to keep hands off.
  6. While it can be tempting to skip sunscreen, sun damage during purging is a double whammy. Opt for a lightweight SPF to avoid clogging pores.
  7. Soothe and hydrate skin with a milky toner full of replenishing ingredients. Milky toners work great because they load skin up with reparative and calming ingredients, while omitting occlusive ingredients that contribute to more clogs.


Paula's Choice

0.3% Retinol + 2% Bakuchiol Treatment


Bio-Retinol 0.5% Vitamin B3 10% Renewing Booster Serum

Ole Henriksen

Double Rewind Pro-Grade 0.3% Retinol Serum




Crystal Retinal

The Ordinary

Retinal 0.2% Emulsion

Allies of Skin

Retinal & Peptides Repair Night Cream




Milk Cleanser

Paula's Choice

Nourishing Milky Toner

Milk Makeup

Vegan Milk Cleanser



Ultra Violette

Supreme Screen Hydrating Facial SKINSCREEN SPF50+


Natural Clear Zinc SPF 50+


SCREEN SAVER SPF30 Broad Spectrum Facial Sunscreen



Skin Control

Pimple Patches PM Overnight Wear 24 Patches


SPOT DOTS Blemish Busting Patches

Peach Out Skincare

Acne Day & Night Duo



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