How to know which product(s) break(s) you out | Let’s investigate

Today I’m greeting you with a brand new type of post, but it’s an experience that I really want to share with you, especially as it could be useful to some of you.

I recently got quite a bad case of breakouts. All of a sudden, in the space of about 12 hours, I got a loaf of them whereas I haven’t really broken out (apart from the odd one here and there) for almost a year. So I want to figure out which product(s) in my routine is/are breaking me out. I think that it’s something in my routine because I recently added a few new things, whereas my diet or stress level haven’t changed recently.

As you may already know, for the past year, I’ve almost exclusively Dr Hauschka products on my face (you can read more about that here, and there) but when we were packing to move to Edinburgh, I didn’t want to take half empty bottles and tubes with me, so I left my products behind and started trying out some new things.

I now have a fairly stable routine that works for me, but there isn’t a single Dr Hauschka product left in it. Don’t get me wrong, I still love them (and they’ll always be the products I turn to if my skin ever start breaking out again) but I had other things in my drawer and I was curious to try different products after a year of using the same ones over and over again.

I felt like this routine was working for me, and I think that the basic steps in it really do. But on Friday I realised that that I had a lot of new breakouts that all appeared roughly at the same time. So I thought back on the unusual products that I had used before Friday. That’s when I realised that between Thursday and Friday I had used 6 products that are not usually in my routine.

That’s how I started my investigation. Seeing as my skin was doing well until Friday, I assumed that none of the products in my regular routine were suspect. These are all the products on the first picture of this post.

I then put aside all the products that were either new in my routine (less than a week) or that I don’t use very often and that I hadn’t used for a few months. That’s the 6 products that you can see on the picture below and they are my 6 main suspects.

As I don’t trust myself not to use them, I’ve actually moved them to another room so that I don’t use them ‘accidentally’ or impulsively.

The first suspect is the Acwell Rice Whitening Mask

It’s not that important to me to know whether this on is the cause of my breakouts because it’s a one use mask that I wasn’t going to repurchase anyway.

So it’s a sheet mask that’s supposed to hydrate and whiten the skin. I think that I bought it (a very long time ago) hoping that it would whiten my acne scars, but it’s typically something that can be fixed at once anyways.

I also have to say that it wasn’t the best fitting sheet mask on my face. So there you go, it might be the cause of my breakouts but I wasn’t going to repurchase it anyway because I didn’t like it all that much.

That being said, it left my skin nicely hydrated and was very refreshing.

The second suspect is the L’Alpage Inalp mask

I reviewed it here and honestly I don’t think that this product is the cause of my breakouts. I’m still putting it in the list because I hadn’t used it in a really long time and even if it never broke me out before, it may be that it’s just getting a little too old to use. I should probably throw it away as it’s very likely expired.

That being said, it’s a great mask that’s very comfortable to wear. I can leave it on for an hour, it doesn’t dry out and it makes my skin super soft.

The third suspect on the list is the La Roche Posay Anthelion XL spf 50 anti-shine

Just like the mask from l’Alpage, this is a product that I’ve been using for a while (and this tube is a week old) but that I haven’t used in a while. I don’t think that this is the product that breaks me out because I’ve used it often enough, and because La Roche Posay is a brand that I trust. But I still included in the list for the sake of being thorough.

I talked about this sun cream here, and I still like it. But I have to put it in this list because I used it the day before breaking out.

The fourth suspect is the famous Pixi Glow Tonic

It’s a product that I actually bought about 4 years ago (or was it even longer ago ? It was back when the packaging had a pump) when everybody was first raving about it, but never used it and ended up throwing it away because it had expired. And a few weeks back I ordered it on Cult Beauty because everybody’s talking about how good it is.

But right now I can’t tell you anything about it because I only used it once the day before breaking out and thus it has made it into the suspect list.

The fifth suspect is the Alpha H Liquid Gold

It’s another product that I’ve used a lot but not in a long time. A few years back, it’s this product paired with la Roche Posay and an antibacterial toner from Michael Todd that helped me get on top of my acne. But it’s also a product that’s really strong, with a high concentration of glycolic acid, and I can’t be sure that it didn’t make my skin react.

Honestly, I really hope that this one isn’t the culprit because it’s a great chemical exfoliant, that helps breakout heal faster and that makes the skin super soft. But seeing as it’s so strong, I can’t be sure that my skin doesn’t react to it now.

I reviewed it a very long time ago, here.

And finally, the sixth and last suspect on my list is the Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate

I don’t think that this product is guilty, but I’ve been using the Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair serum instead of this one (I always use one or the other) for months and my breakouts appear the day after I’d used this again for the first time in a while.

I’ve often used this product this winter, and I never noticed anything bad, but maybe the formula is just a little too rich for this time of year and maybe that could be a reason why it didn’t work for me. I don’t know yet, but I really hope not ! It’s a fantastic product for when your skin needs a little TLC.

So, what am I going to do with all my suspects and all my questions ? How will I know which one is guilty ?

What I’m doing right now is that I’m using only products from my basic routine (1st picture) until the breakouts disappear. Then, I’ll try each of these product again, one after the other, leaving a few days between each product, in order to see which one breaks me out.

If my skin doesn’t get better using only my basic routine, I’ll start questioning some of the other products that I use and will try and see if one of them could be a suspect. Or, I’ll see if there really isn’t anything that has changed anywhere else in my life (diet, stress lever, colour of my jeans …)

If my skin gets better and none of these suspects break me out again, I’ll assume that it merely was a coincidence that I got so many breakouts at once (or at least another reason that has nothing to do with them) and I’ll bring them back in my routine, being however careful (especially in the beginning) and paying attention to what is happening to my skin when I use any of them.

And a piece of advice that I really should follow myself (do as I say, not as I do) is to never introduce more than one product at once into your skincare routine, so that you won’t have to go into that kind of lengths to determine which suspect is guilty.

How do you know which products break you out ? Do you avoid certain ingredients ?

Would you like to see an updated skincare routine ?