Girl showing acne breakouts on her chin in an article about skin purging and more breakouts after using BHA

Can BHA make my acne worse? The truth about skin purging!

Aaaah, the irony. You introduce a new skincare product to get rid of pesky pimples and make skin glow, and end up with... more breakouts! WHAT is going on here?! But before you panic, read on...

By Maria Ahlgren, Beauty Director

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When you introduce a new skincare product, especially one that contains active ingredients like BHA (Beta Hydroxy
Acid, with salicylic acid being the one used in skincare), it is possible to experience a temporary period known as "skin purging."

What is skin purging? And why do I get more breakouts after introducing BHA?

Skin purging occurs when the product speeds up the skin's natural exfoliation process, which can lead to the rapid turnover of skin cells.

During this phase, you may notice that your acne appears to worsen or that new breakouts occur. However, this reaction
is typically temporary and should subside within a few weeks. It's important to note that skin purging is different from an adverse reaction or an allergic response to a product.

Why does salicylic cause skin to purge?

BHA acids, such as salicylic acid, are known for their ability to penetrate pores deeply, unclog them, and prevent the
formation of new acne lesions. By exfoliating the skin and promoting cell turnover, BHA can initially bring underlying congestion to the surface, resulting in the appearance of more acne.

However, as the purging phase ends, you should notice an improvement in your skin's texture and a reduction in breakouts.

Is it a purge, or just your skin being moody?

It's important to remember that a sudden onset of acne can also be caused by other issues, like fluctuating hormones (for example more breakouts before and during your period) or changing your lifestyle habits.

If you have over-exfoliated your skin, or have introduced to many active ingredients (like BHA acids, AHA acids and retinoids), at once, a stressed or damaged skin barrier can also lead to skin being more inflammation-prone, and therefore more acne-prone.

Remember that BHA or salicylic can NEVER be the root cause of acne. Instead it should be regarded as acne-prone skin's BFF – even though the first few weeks of friendship may be bumpy before flourishing into a lifelong love story.

So don't give up. Unless you have an allergy to salicylic acid or have unintentionally overexfoliated your skin and should stay off any actives, there's clear skies ahead.