3 Steps to Patch Test New Beauty Products

by | Updated: December 4th, 2016 | Read time: 2 minutes

Have you ever tried to patch test a new skincare product before immediately slathering it all over your face or body? Maybe an esthetician, makeup artist or even friend mentioned this great way to find out if a product is compatible with your skin. Patch testing can be done with a wide array of cosmetics and skincare products, really anything you apply to your skin or body topically.

Patch Testing Beauty Products

Everyone is different and even simple things like essential oils fragrances, dyes or natural actives could trigger irritations. Some individuals are highly sensitive or even allergic to certain things and may even suffer potentially strong reactions and rashes.

An adverse reaction can happen to anyone, not just a sensitive skin type, so patching testing prior to using any new item is a great way to make sure your skin only gets the best. Here’s what to do:

Step 1: Dispense a small, pea-sized amount (or less) of the product and pat it onto the skin, either on the back of the wrist or elbow if it’s a body product or on the back of the neck just behind the earlobe for facial items.

Step 2: Leave the product on your skin for a period of 24 hours, unless the directions require rinsing or removing. If that’s the case, follow the directions, but still only apply to the small, designated patch-test area.

Step 3: Wait and watch to see if your skin has any reactions. Classic characteristics include redness, irritation, visible rashes, breakouts, itchiness, burning, pain, flaking etc. If you noticed any of these reactions, the item may not be for you.

In serious cases, contact dermatitis can occur. This happens when skin comes in direct contact with an allergen, and a reaction is caused. Hives—which are an inflammation of the skin triggered by the immune system—can appear in more severe cases.This causes small blood vessels to leak, leading to swelling in the skin. There’s also angioedema, which is swelling in the deepest layers of the skin, usually appearing with hives. If any of these signs present themselves, stop using the product immediately and see your doctor to discuss the reaction. If you have no reactions, go ahead and start to use the product.

It is likely that most items will be all right for your skin type. Whenever starting a new item just take notice of any good, or concerning, changes taking place within the skin. Sometimes the amount of product applied can cause an adverse reaction, in which case you can either try using less or stop using the product altogether.

Also keep in mind that product formulations sometimes change; so something that once worked for you may stop working or cause a reaction when you purchase a new bottle or tube. Be sure to read labels carefully!