Can Your Toothpaste Give You Problems Around Your Skin And Mouth?

If you’ve known me longer than 6 months, you’ll know that I’ve had all kinds of skin issues around my mouth and chin – reactive, sensitive skin, constantly dealing with breakouts and big bumps deep under the skin.

Over the summer I managed to more or less eliminate it all over 2 months (used a combo of salicylic acid, niancinamide, squalane oil and rose hip oil, completely eradicated the skin issue, although a better diet and exercise helped a great deal too). However, I woke up a few days ago and had to take this awful picture of my face to show you something.

If you find yourself getting whiteheads around your mouth and lips, red sores in the corners of your mouth, dry lips, red itchy patches around your mouth and in the creases of your nose, rougher skin generally around your mouth – it could be a form of perioral dermatitis. You may need to see your doctor about this because dermatitis is a skin infection, however, something you can do that might help is to change your toothpaste.

During my 2 months clearing my skin, I also was using a different toothpaste – Sensodyne Pronamel Enamel Care Daily Protection Toothpaste, to be precise. In the last fortnight I had been using the Aquafresh that had been lying around. The difference between the two products?

Sodium Laureth Sulphate. A.k.a. SLS or SLES. It’s used to make formulations foam up, giving you those bubbles we often like in toothpastes, hair products and some skincare too.

It turns out that I’m allergic to this ingredient being around my mouth. There is no SLS in that particular Sensodyne toothpaste, but it’s high up the ingredients list on the Aquafresh toothpaste. Therefore, I had to go out and buy another toothpaste that doesn’t have SLS in it.

Big shout out to the irrepressible Caroline Hirons for this tip off in one of her most recent Empties videos (linked below) for pointing this out – some people are allergic to SLS and it can cause perioral dermatitis or other skin problems for them – for people like me.

Not everyone is going to have this issue, and swapping your toothpaste for a month might not make a difference if you are suffering from these symptoms, however – if you have been suffering with skin issues around your mouth, you may notice a difference over time if you change your toothpaste to one without SLS. In my case, this did help my issues, but not in isolation, because I had other things going on too around my mouth and chin.

It absolutely should go without saying though that you should always consult your doctor or dermatologist if you have any major skin concerns and swapping your toothpaste might do Jack ‘ish.

Check the labels of your toothpaste – Sodium Laureth Sulphate, “SLS” – that’s the one to try avoiding and see if it makes a difference.

My favourite toothpastes – Sensodyne Pronamel Enamel Care Daily Protection Toothpaste is available on the high street, £4 per bottle but often on offer, currently 2 for £6 at Boots.

Another favourite of mine is Aesop’s Toothpaste Dentrifrice: it’s expensive and posh at £10, plus it has an acquired taste, however this one is SLS free and is also the only toothpaste I’ve tried that gets rid of coffee/tea mouth – you know coffee/tea mouth? Mouth and tongue feels a bit foul sometimes after drinking too much tea or coffee? This one gets rid of that way better than any other and leaves the mouth fresher throughout the day for longer.

Caroline Hirons’ video >>

I hope this titbit helps you look at your products regularly to see what may need to change.

Got any questions for me? Ask me here.


This is what a reaction to SLS can look like.
WARNING: visible white heads, soreness around mouth, awful picture.
Please do not scroll down if seeing acne upsets you in any way.