Exfoliating Skin

Is It Normal To Break Out When Using Exfoliating Skin Care Products?

Achieving healthy, radiant skin often requires a well-thought-out skincare routine, and exfoliating products play a crucial role in that process. Exfoliants are designed with the purpose of eliminating dead skin cells, clearing out pores, and promoting the regeneration of new skin cells, ultimately leading to a smoother and more radiant complexion. However, for some individuals, the introduction of exfoliating skincare products can lead to unexpected breakouts and skin irritation. In this blog, we will explore why breakouts may occur when using exfoliants and whether this is a normal part of the process.

Understanding Exfoliation:

Before digging into the reasons behind breakouts, it's critical to understand the notion of exfoliation. Physical exfoliants with grains, such as scrubs, and chemical exfoliants with substances such as alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs) are two types of exfoliants. Exfoliation is a skincare technique that involves eliminating the outer layer of dead skin cells, exposing the youthful and healthy skin underneath.

Why Do Breakouts Occur with Exfoliation?

Skin Breakouts

Purging vs. Breakouts:

When introducing exfoliating products into your skincare routine, distinguishing between purging and regular breakouts is crucial. Purging is a brief procedure in which an exfoliant speeds up the skin's normal cell turnover, bringing clogged pores to the surface. This may lead to a short-term increase in breakouts but is a sign that the product is working effectively. Purging typically lasts a few weeks and should subside as the skin adjusts to the exfoliation.


One of the primary reasons for breakouts when using exfoliants is over-exfoliation. Applying exfoliating products too frequently or using multiple exfoliants simultaneously can strip the skin's protective barrier and increase sensitivity and irritation. As a result, the skin may generate more oil, resulting in clogged pores and breakouts.

Inappropriate Product Choice:

Using the wrong type of exfoliant for your skin type can also trigger breakouts. AHAs are more suitable for dry and sun-damaged skin, while BHAs are often recommended for oily and acne-prone skin. Choosing an exfoliant that doesn't match your skin's needs can exacerbate existing skin issues.

Allergic Reactions:

Exfoliants may include powerful active substances that may cause adverse responses in some people. Irritated skin may manifest as redness, itching, or breakouts, indicating an adverse reaction to the product.

How to Minimize the Chances of Breakouts During Exfoliation:

Start Slowly: Begin by using the exfoliant once or twice a week and progressively increase the frequency based on the response of your skin.

Patch Test: Before using any new product, always perform a patch test to check for any adverse reactions.

Avoid Combining Exfoliants: Avoid applying numerous exfoliating products at the same time, since this might result in over-exfoliation.

Hydrate and Moisturize: Keep your skin well-hydrated and moisturized to support the skin's barrier function and minimize irritation.

Consult a Professional: If breakouts persist or become severe, consult a dermatologist who can guide you on the best approach for your skin type.

What are the skin ingredients that help in soothing the skin?

Skin Purging

Certainly! When experiencing breakouts or irritation from exfoliating skincare products, incorporating soothing ingredients into your routine can help alleviate discomfort and promote skin healing. Here are some ingredients known for their calming and anti-inflammatory properties:

Aloe Vera:

Aloe vera soothes the skin during exfoliation due to its anti-inflammatory and cooling properties. As the exfoliating process may cause temporary redness and irritation, aloe vera's calming effect helps reduce discomfort and redness. Its natural gel texture provides a cooling sensation, offering instant relief to the skin, making it an ideal post-exfoliation remedy for a refreshed and soothed complexion.


Chamomile soothes the skin during exfoliation by virtue of its anti-inflammatory and calming attributes. Exfoliation can leave the skin temporarily sensitive and red, but chamomile's active compounds, such as bisabolol and chamazulene, work to reduce inflammation and alleviate irritation. Chamomile's mild and refreshing nature delivers a calming experience that promotes relaxation and comfort. Incorporating chamomile-based products or applying chamomile-infused toners or masks after exfoliation can effectively mitigate redness and sensitivity, leaving the skin feeling serene, balanced, and rejuvenated.

Green tea extract

Green tea extract soothes the skin during exfoliation due to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Exfoliation can temporarily lead to redness and sensitivity, but green tea's active catechins help reduce inflammation and soothe the skin. Additionally, its potent antioxidants protect the skin from free radicals and environmental stressors that may aggravate post-exfoliation sensitivity. Applying products containing green tea extract or using green tea-infused toners or masks after exfoliation can effectively calm the skin, promoting a refreshed and revitalized complexion, while minimizing any potential discomfort or irritation.

Licorice root extract

Because of its anti-inflammatory and skin-brightening characteristics, licorice root extract calms the skin during exfoliation. Exfoliation can leave the skin temporarily red and irritated, but licorice root's active compound glabridin helps reduce inflammation and redness. Additionally, it aids in inhibiting melanin production, promoting a more even skin tone and reducing post-exfoliation hyperpigmentation. Incorporating products with licorice root extract or using licorice-infused toners and masks after exfoliation can effectively calm the skin, leaving it soothed and radiant, and minimizing any potential discomfort or unevenness caused by the exfoliation process


Niacinamide soothes the skin during exfoliation due to its anti-inflammatory and barrier-strengthening properties. Exfoliation can cause a temporary disruption in the skin's natural barrier, resulting in redness and irritation. Niacinamide helps reduce inflammation and supports the skin's protective barrier, promoting a smoother and calmer complexion. It also regulates sebum production, minimizing potential post-exfoliation breakouts. Using products with niacinamide or incorporating it into your skincare routine after exfoliation can effectively calm the skin, ensuring a more comfortable and balanced experience while reaping the benefits of exfoliation.

Hyaluronic Acid

Hyaluronic acid provides essential hydration during exfoliation. The exfoliation process can sometimes strip the skin of moisture, leaving it dry and sensitive. Hyaluronic acid's unique ability to attract and retain water molecules helps replenish and lock in hydration, keeping the skin plump and supple. By using products containing hyaluronic acid or incorporating it into your post-exfoliation routine, you can ensure the skin stays well-hydrated, minimizing any potential dryness or discomfort and maximizing the benefits of exfoliation for a radiant and healthy complexion.

Centella Asiatica

Centella Asiatica, often known as Cica, is quite useful during exfoliation. Exfoliating the skin may cause temporary sensitivity and redness. Cica's anti-inflammatory and wound-healing properties can help soothe and calm the skin, reducing irritation and promoting faster recovery. Its active compounds, like asiaticoside and madecassoside, support the skin's natural healing process. Including Cica-based products or using creams with Centella Asiatica post-exfoliation can effectively provide comfort and aid in maintaining a healthy and rejuvenated complexion, while minimizing any potential adverse effects of exfoliation.

Take Aways

Breakouts are fairly prevalent while using exfoliating skincare products and can be caused by a variety of factors. While some initial breakouts may occur during the purging process, ongoing breakouts could indicate over-exfoliation, inappropriate product choice, or allergic reactions. It is essential to identify the cause and adjust your skincare routine accordingly. By understanding the nuances of exfoliation and giving your skin the care it needs, you can reap the long-term benefits of a radiant, healthy complexion. Remember that everyone's skin is different, so what works for one person may not work for another. To reach your targeted skincare goals, pay attention to your skin, be patient, and seek professional help if necessary.


Q. How to exfoliate skin naturally?

Ans. To naturally exfoliate skin, try these methods:

Sugar Scrub: Mix sugar with olive oil or honey, and gently massage onto damp skin.

Oatmeal Scrub: Blend oats with yogurt, apply in circular motions, and rinse.

Fruit Enzymes: Papaya or pineapple contain natural enzymes; apply and rinse after a few minutes.

Baking Soda: Mix with water to create a paste and scrub gently.

Always moisturize afterward to keep skin hydrated.as the skin adjusts to the treatment.

Q. Does your skin purge when you start exfoliating?

Ans. Yes, it is common for the skin to go through a purging phase when you start exfoliating. Exfoliating products can accelerate the skin's natural cell turnover process, which brings underlying clogged pores to the surface. This can lead to temporary breakouts as the skin clears out impurities. However, purging is a normal part of the exfoliation process and should subside after a few weeks as the skin adjusts to the treatment.

Q. Can exfoliating cause pimples?

Ans. Yes, exfoliating can cause pimples in some cases. Over-exfoliating or using harsh exfoliants can strip the skin of its natural oils, leading to increased dryness and irritation. This, in turn, can trigger the skin to produce more oil, which may clog pores and result in breakouts.

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