Advice Clinic

How to Patch Test?

Do you patch test new skincare products? Or do you just slap on your new toner/serum/moisturizer and hope for the best?

The impulse to try out new products is strong. We get it, we do. If your skin is non-reactive and tolerates new products well, we are officially jealous. Unfortunately, a couple of times when we have decided to throw caution to the wind, the results were well… not pretty. Itchy and irritated skin, rash, shedding, spots.

It could be that you are allergic to a cosmetic ingredient (for example fragrance or preservatives in products).

It could be seasonal – if the change of season wreaks havoc with your skin, it might get easily irritated and react to products it normally would have no problem with. Hay fever for example not only makes our nose and eyes itch, it makes our skin itchy too.

It could be that your skin just doesn’t respond well to any given formula.

Be as it may – if it is a choice of a simple patch test or going through life looking like the Singing Detective, we’d much rather veer on the side of caution. Feel free to call us party poopers.

How do you patch test?

We will preface this by saying – this is to be used as a general guide, you know your skin the best. Also, just because a product has a label “dermatologically tested” or is “all natural” doesn’t mean there couldn’t be an ingredient in the formula that makes your skin react.

If you are worried about potential allergies, try patch testing on the side of your neck or behind your ear. The inside of your wrist also works in some cases.

If you are worried about breakouts, apply the product to a small section of your chin, cheek or where you usually break out the most. Try to keep this up for a few days at least.

How long should you patch test for?

It depends on your skin. For some, the reaction might be immediate. For others, it will take a couple of applications to see if the product bothers you or not.

How to soothe the skin in case of a reaction?

Go back to your base routine. Use your gentlest cleanser and moisturizer. Soothe, pamper and repair. Stop using all active ingredients (retinol, acids, vitamin C). In case of a breakout, spot treat and again use your gentlest cleanser and moisturizer. Keep this up until your skin goes back to normal.

Do you patch test? Have you ever suffered a reaction? What is your go-to routine in case of a reaction?

About the author

Roberta Striga

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