Figuring out your skincare triggers.

The hardest skincare lesson I’ve had to figure out is that you never stop figuring out your skincare triggers. You just don’t. Your environment changes, your diet changes, your body changes, you’re in a constant state of change, so obviously your skin will change. 

There is no easy way to figure out what your triggers are, it really is just trial and error. There is no magic bullet in skincare. Sometimes the trial sucks and your skin throws a monster tantrum, sometimes it a gentle, “no, I don’t like this, let’s not do this again, okay?“. It’s pretty important to listen to your skin. I don’t mean be obsessive with it, but be aware of normal trends. Sometimes the triggers may not be environmental, they may be food based, or connected to your sleep.

My skin, literally can’t even.

I know for example that my skin really likes sunshine and when I don’t have a lot of dairy in my diet. It also really likes it when I go to bed early and wake up early (who’s doesn’t), when I drink at least a litre of water a day (surprisingly hard to do) and if I avoid the following ingredients in any topical product I use.

 Tea Tree Oil


If this is a main ingredient, then nope not happening. When I was a wee lass, Boots was doing an intro promotion for their tea tree line, so mother and I bought the wash for me to try out. For about a week I couldn’t wash my face with anything, even water was painful. I basically came up in a rash and had a really hard time sleeping because it hurt so much.

Since then I’ve avoided tea tree oil as a major ingredient (though I can use products with it in small doses like the COSRX A-Sol). I’m not sure if it was the tea tree, or if it was something else as I don’t have the ingredient list to cross check, but the memory is still fresh and my life has been fine without tea tree so, I’m okay. 

Niacinamide (Vitamin B)

vitbWho would have thunk it? This ingredient is one of the ‘trifecta’ (Vitamin A (Retinoid), Vitamin B (Niacinamide), Vitamin C) of anti ageing and is in a lot of products I want to try, so this has burned me the most in terms of testing out. I bought a Simple Toner that had this as one of the top three ingredients, and after exhaustively cross checking all the other ingredients with products I’ve used with no problem I had to accept that niacinamide is not for me skincare wise.

Boo! My reaction to this is super gross. Like Tea Tree oil my skin turns bumpy and rash like, but I also get the added reaction of papules (don’t look it up) that form on my temple. They vanished within days of removing the toner, so I was sure that was the culprit. I would really like to try it again, but the thought of papules really put me off and I don’t want to risk it.

SLS (Sodium Lauryl Sulfate)


This is very very new, ugh and I think it might be related to the weather because I’ve never had this happen before. Basically this is why I’m writing this post. A few weeks ago, I some acne around my mouth was being really persistent and I couldn’t figure out why. I realised that the only thing I’d changed was not rinsing my mouth out with mouthwash, which meant when I drooled in my sleep (stop laughing), any area my saliva touched broke out. From the ingredient list, I saw that my toothpaste had SLS but my mouthwash didn’t, and I theorised that it was possible my mouthwash was helping my skin neutralise whatever ill effects my toothpaste had caused. I went back to rinsing my mouth with the mouthwash and voila all better!

Then, oh my gosh, then, I didn’t think to check any of my other products. Can you imagine? I’ve discovered a skin trigger and I just left it! *hits head against desk*. It wasn’t until last week that I thought it through and realised that a lot of my products have SLS. Since removing it from my products my skin has become so much calmer. 

So how do you figure it out for yourself?

It takes time young one. 

Lots of time standing in aisles reading ingredient lists, searching online for ingredient lists that are not on the manufacturer’s website (goddamn why) and thanking every blogger who takes pictures or copies down the ingredient list. It will take time pouring over formulation information by people much smarter than you and time spent realising that you know nothing Jon Snow. But more importantly, it will take time searching for samples and tentatively testing them on your skin before you know your triggers.

Your tools are Google, Wikipedia (no shame in using Simple English) alongside more specialised sites like Prospector.

  • CosDNA is great for an at a glance look at what ingredients do and can be useful for sourcing ingredient lists. But! The information on that site isn’t super up to date due to it being user submitted. Companies also change formulations for different regions and update their ingredient lists all the time, so always use the site with that in mind. 
  • Prospector is great because it is way more regulated, and it is independent so less likely to be influenced by companies. It is like a wiki of ingredients, formulations. 

I am not a chemist but I know how to use the tools available to me and it is possible for you to do the same! If you know of other great tools, let me know! I’m always interested in learning more!

27 Comments Add yours

  1. Auntie Snail says:

    I love this! Very clear and thought-provoking. You’ve inspired me to bust out a sample of sulfate-free toothpaste that I have, so I can determine whether my toothpaste is the cause of my persistent chin redness and bumpies (I’m a drooly brusher, always have been).

    Also. I looked up papules. I am so sorry. For you as well as me.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. adoredee says:

      Thank you! Drooly brushers unite! I’ve always been one, I think this is just who I am now. Definately give it a try and see. I was amazed at how quickly it cleared up once I switched. Hopefully that’s the same case for you.

      Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaah. I’m sorry, I did warn you! Papules are so gross. Everytime I want to patch test a niacinamide product I remember papules and just really can’t bring myself to do it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Auntie Snail says:

        I look like I have rabies when I’m brushing my teeth. And I brush for the full 2 minutes each time, so it really is a lot of time for the sulfates and other harsh ingredients to be doing a number on my poor chin.


      2. adoredee says:

        Bwahaha. Yes, I can totally relate. Which is why I always try to brush my teeth before starting my routine or at least between first and secon cleanse. But then that wasn’t helping because of the SLS in my foaming face wash *face desk*, and I drool sometimes in my sleep so… Ahh, the joys of life. Now I know!

        Sensodyne make SLS free toothpaste, but they’re so pricey even when they’re on sale. Have a look into non SLS mouthwashes, I’m lucky that my local supermarket sells their own brand for under £1. Which is much cheaper than SLS-free toothpaste.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Auntie Snail says:

        Yeah, I’ll definitely look around for a good and not terribly pricey SLS-free toothpaste if this turns out to be my problem. The sample I have is Sensodyne, from my dentist, and I loathe the way it tastes


      4. adoredee says:

        Yep! That’s the reason I’m not rushing out to buy it. I’ve tried sensodyne before and it always tastes like butt. If you find alternatives, please let me know!

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Auntie Snail says:

        I will for sure! Yay, drooly brushing for life!


  2. damien duguet says:

    Hi Adoredee!
    Nice article. I follow your blog from time to time: I’m no chemist, and your explanations help me a lot to better figure out the science behind cosmetics.
    If I may, and I’m sorry for not having found another way to contact you, I’d like to suggest another source of information: .

    To be honest, Specialchem is my employer, so I’m not totally objective on this. But is a bit different than Ulprospector and CosDna:
    – companies don’t pay to display their products on our website, there is crowdsourcing, no membership fee. Objectivity seemed important to you: actually companies pay to display their products on prospector.
    – we don’t only supply the technical data: we try to help the formulators find the right ingredient for their formulations (we even share nearly 2K formulations).

    Anyway, if you want a virtual tour of the website, I’d be happy to set it up 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. adoredee says:

      Good Morning Damien!
      Thanks for the link to your company’s site, there’s a lot of good information there and I’ll have to take a closer look through it, I’m always eager to look at other ways to expand my skincare knowledge!

      I didn’t know about Prospector getting companies to pay for listings, but then again I guess that makes sense, as they show content without membership and your site needs you to sign up, even though it is free. Someone has to pay for something somewhere! 🙂

      Thank you for the tour offer, but I think I’ll decline. If I have more questions, I’ll be sure to us the company contact form for more information.

      Thanks again!


  3. This is such an informative post, thank you! Jay

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Ms_moonlight says:

    Ugh, the SLS allergy. I cannot use SLS anywhere, anyhow. I have to buy SLS free detergent, shampoo, conditioners (why do conditioners sometimes have this?!), face cleaners, everything. That means I have to use ecover and use gloves when I wash dishes!


    1. adoredee says:

      So frustrating right!? It is in everything, even baby stuff. Bah!


  5. Annie says:

    I have 2/3 of your trigger, the same clogged pores, bumps, and papules. I also have some minor problem with cetearyl alcohol, and capric triglyceride. Sometime i use product that i think might potentially cause problem just because its so hype and im a skincare addict. >.< it just so hard to fight the temptation sometime


  6. Anthonia says:

    Toothpaste for 3-5year olds has no sls, my dentist recommended it. I too have to try and avoid but for other reasons. They sell at cheap stores for about 99p

    Liked by 1 person

    1. adoredee says:

      Hi! I have to manually approve comments unless you’ve commented before 🙂

      Oooh, they do?! I’ll have to look at children’s toothpaste then! I always found them too sweet so I stayed clear, but I’m sure the formulas have changed since I was a little girl!


      1. Anthonia says:

        Hi, I rarely comment on review wesite but it’s so good to find someone living in UK into Asian skincare:) I find them so much gentler and with health issues/allergies you can do without nasties. I found you through Snow White and the Asian Pear btw:). Happy bloging.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. adoredee says:

        Thank you! The only bother is that it isn’t as easy to get a wide variety of Asian skincare in the UK, it’s all import mostly.

        I find that Asian Skincare is better for my skin too. They seem to be more gentle, and more customisable. It’s less Clinique’s 3 step system where you HAVE to buy the set for it to be ‘effective’ and more pick and mix where you can find what suits you best.

        Oh! Awesome! I shall let her know. She’s a lovely blogger and a really nice lady 🙂


  7. Onice says:

    I thought i was the only one getting bad reactions with niacinamide. Omg! A lot of essences i want to try out has this ingredient. I could just cry. 😫

    Liked by 1 person

    1. adoredee says:

      You are not alone! Niacinamide is my actual enemy, I can’t risk it not even once. My friend didn’t know and used a setting spray on my face that had it in, actual panic mode 😦 All the nice shinesy have it, and I wish it wasn’t such an important ingredient!


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