The Purely Primal Skincare Blog

{Fix your skin. Naturally!}

Happy Skincare Saturday!

We got some great questions for our Q&A feature, and we’re answering them right here on the blog.

For more information on each topic, be sure to check out the Purely Primal Skincare Guide.


Today’s Q: How long does the adjustment period last once I switch to a new hair or skin care routine?

This is one of the most difficult questions to answer – because it varies from person to person. No two people are the same, and our body chemistry, our environment, our product history, and even our stress levels can make a difference.

For me, switching to “No ‘Poo” took a 2-week adjustment period. My hair was waxy, then oily, then finally soft and beautiful. Before I got there, though, I used plenty of headbands and bobby pins to mask the adjustment period!

It’s important to note that as we state in this post, water quality changes CAN affect how No Poo works. That’s why I’m not rigid about my body and hair care choices – we HAVE to recognize that our environment makes a difference! So, when I travel (which is often) OR when our water softener runs low, I WILL use a clean “sudsy” shampoo – like one from Just Natural Organic Care – just to be safe. Predictable results are important, especially when you’re preparing for a meeting or interview!

When I switched to the Oil Cleansing Method, I probably took about a week to totally adjust. However, I had a very basic, mild reaction and NOT a massive, painful one. My skin did not have a dramatic reaction, nor did it get worse – even with the small reaction, I still felt it was becoming more balanced as I continued to oil cleanse.

This is a really, really important distinction. It has been brought to my attention lately that one of the most popular companies selling oil blends for oil cleansing advocates patience through even the longest, most painful oil cleansing reactions – and that’s NOT cool. Because:

There’s a HUGE difference between an “adjustment period” and an actual reaction of intolerance.

While oil can be incredibly nourishing for many, if not most people, there are others (whether because of extreme sensitivity to bioactive components of natural oils or environmental sensitivities) simply can’t use oil. And if these folks are told that ANY reaction to oil is a “detox” or “adjustment period,” even the extreme ones, they’re being misled.

If your skin reacts horribly to a new routine or oil, with painful inflammation or cystic outbreaks, remember: that’s painful inflammation and cystic outbreaks, NOT an “adjustment period.” That is a reaction, and it should be treated as such: go back to a gentle routine, ice and soothe the breakouts, perhaps use a gentle calming hydrosol or aloe juice, and build from there. Evaluate nutrition and digestion as we suggest in the Guide.

In the middle of a reaction, less is always more. This is why we are SO insistent that people SPOT TEST before they go whole hog on a new routine, and why we do not list inflammation or cystic outbreaks as “detox” or “adjustment period” reactions.

Small, random blemishes that surface and go away quickly – like bubbles coming up from under-water – ARE generally a detox reaction or an “adjustment period.” Most people are comfortable with those (and I find they’re easily taken care of with a dab of tea tree oil).

This sounds scary, but remember – there are many people who experience no period of adjustment at all!

For some people who had good skin beforehand and made a switch to a more natural routine, the adjustment can be quick or nonexistent and the improvement immediate.

For those who have very problematic skin – as I did – compounded by digestive or nutritional issues, the process of rebalancing the skin can be a longer one – and it must include keeping an eye on nutrition, stress, digestive health, AND skincare. If you’re on medications, you MUST work with your practitioner to step down if that’s your goal. If you’re severely digestively compromised – whether due to leaky gut, candida, or an autoimmune disease – this can affect your skin and its reactivity.

Yes, there are a lot of things to keep in mind – but this isn’t surprising, since skin problems are never just skin problems. They’re tied to every other measure of health we have, so it’s a process to figure this all out naturally!

Just remember: a LOT of concerns can be addressed simply by being sure to spot test, spot test, spot test! Give it a few days, not just a few minutes.

I truly think that gradual change is better than “ripping off the band-aid” when it comes to skincare changes. We each have to remember that our unique experiences, what we’re dealing with, what we used previously, and what our goals are factor in to the process of change.

I know what it feels like to be in a hurry to see change, to be hopeful, and to want to “soldier through” difficulties to reach that light at the end of the tunnel. But through it all, be patient, be observant, and trust your gut.

Hope this helps!