How To Do a Patch Test?
If you’ve read any skincare product reviews or watched a beauty guru on Youtube, then you’ve probably heard of the phrase “patch test.”
Patch tests are incredibly important. They help you detect allergic reactions and irritated skin. If you’re trying out a new beauty product with unfamiliar ingredients, a skin test can save you from a potentially severe allergic reaction.
What is a patch test and how do you perform a patch test?
Before you go ham on the new moisturizer or exfoliant you bought, there’s one step you can’t skip: a patch test.
Patch tests are basically allergy tests for new items. They’re a great way to gauge whether or not your skin is going to have an allergic reaction to a new toner you bought or an exfoliant you’ve been dying to try.
It’ll also save you a ton of time and money in the long run, since you won’t be wasting any on skincare products that don’t even work for you. (And we all know we’ve been spending a LOT!)
The best part is, it’s incredibly easy to perform a patch test. Here’s how you do it:
- Use a clean, accessible patch of skin. It should be a small area that isn’t prone to a lot of friction and could be left alone for up to 24 hours. Some good examples are the back of your ears, the crock of your elbow (inner arm), or the back of your neck.
- Wash the area thoroughly. Clean the exposed area to avoid false irritation. A clean patch ensures that you can easily identify the irritant should there be any adverse reaction to a product.
- Apply a small amount of product to the skin. Start with a small amount of the new product and apply it onto your skin. You may also cover it with a bandaid.
How long should you patch test skin care?
The next and final step of the patch test is to wait 24 hours. That should give you enough time to rule out any allergic reactions. However, if you experience burning, swelling, itching, redness, or pain in the affected area, you should wash the skin right away.
It might be inconvenient to wait a day for the allergy test results, but these skin tests are worth it. Just think of it this way: it’s better to risk severe reactions on a small patch of skin that isn’t your face. If you had gone ahead and applied that new cream on your cheeks, it’s going to be harder to undo the damage. As the old saying goes, prevention is better than cure.
What to do with the results of your patch test
If you’ve made it 24 hours without experiencing any irritation, congratulations! That means you and your new skincare product might have a happy future together. We say might, because patch testing doesn’t rule out all kinds of adverse effects. Some allergies develop over a few days and with repeated exposure.
If you experience any adverse reactions, a severe allergy, or irritant contact dermatitis, those are huge red flags. It means a particular substance in your new product doesn’t jive well with your skin. If you’re still unsure what your skin reaction means and how to move forward, visit a dermatologist.
What do I do when my new buy gives me an allergic reaction?
Heartbreaking as it may be to ditch your new buy (we all know the serotonin boost new products give), take it as a learning experience. At least now, you’ll know what ingredients to avoid in the future. To avoid waste, you can give your product to someone with a better skin match or resell it.
Should I still conduct patch tests even if I don’t have sensitive skin?
The short answer to this is yes. Even if you don’t have skin conditions, ie. allergic contact dermatitis or eczema, that can make your skin extra sensitive to new products, patch testing should still be standard.
Patch testing for an allergy or irritation will help you determine so many important factors, like your skin tolerance and reactions to certain ingredients. For those with oily and acne-prone skin, patch testing can help you prevent a breakout that may occur due to a product that clogs your pores.
Really, patch testing is a practical form of self-care that can save you from the nightmare of itching, allergies, irritation, and all of that no-good skincare stuff problems can be hell to treat.
Know Your Body
Knowing how to do a patch test is only the first step towards more mindful skincare practices. Once you have an idea of what your face likes and doesn’t like, what can potentially cause an allergic reaction and what’s friendly, you should be able to build a more solid and efficient routine! Try to notice if your face prefers natural ingredients, mild products, topical medication, oil-free cleansers, and whatnot.
If you’re still looking for more answers, you can always go to a doctor for professional allergy testing. If the problem is more complicated, you may have to do other types of testing such as a scratch test and even blood tests. Under the guidance and preparation of a doctor, you’ll be able to identify and avoid allergens.
Everyone’s skin is different, so it’s important to patch test before trying out a new skincare craze! Remember, waiting 24 hours is worth whatever breakout or irritation a product may cause.
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Joey is an AB Psychology graduate of the University of St. La Salle – Bacolod. Her life’s passions include writing, film, and spending hours on end binge-watching fashion vloggers on Youtube.