Updated: Oct 21, 2020
Ever bought a super hyped product thinking you'd FOR SURE love it only to find yourself aching with a bad rash, horrible breakout or burning sensation? We've all been there [looking at myself in the mirror here] and even the most experienced skincare advocates have gone through this too! You're not alone.
What is patch testing?
Patch testing a product can avoid serious [ and painful ] damage to your skin. It means you dab a small amount of product onto your skin, preferably an area that can be covered [ such as behind your ear or under your jaw ] and there should be NO OTHER PRODUCT applied on that same area for the next 48 HOURS to see if any reaction will occur.
Alex from @saggy.skin on Instagram who has sensitive skin also suggested this band-aid method that I love!
All you do is apply your product somewhere on your body [ I like to do inner arm, wrist, or neck - areas where eczema can kind of flare up, but avoiding my face ]. Apply a band-aid, and DON'T wash the area for 48 hours. Remove the band-aid and if your skin is red, you're likely sensitive and should refrain from using the product. You can also apply a second patch test for something you don't react to, to test as a negative control.
Breakout patch testing?
Unfortunately, if you are patch testing to see if a product will make you breakout, there's no better place to patch test than on your face where you are prone to blemishes [ in my case most often around my chin ]. Apply the product on that same area for about a week to see if anything happens.
Why the 48 hour wait?
I honestly can't give a good answer here. In my opinion, it's just an insurance policy to REALLY make sure your skin can handle the product. 24 hours may just be too short whereas 48 hours you know the product has been sitting on your skin for that long and even after that, nothing should happen. If you see something [ irritation, swelling etc. ] then you know this product is NOT for you [ even if YOU really want to love it ].
A quick guide
Testing for irritation - Apply the product where you're the most prone to sensitivities.
Testing for an allergic reaction - Apply the product on a hidden area [ ears, jar, arms ]
Testing comedogenicity and breakouts - Apply the product where you are prone to
clogged pores [for me clogged pores are on my nose, breakouts on my chin].
Who should patch test?
Patch testing should honestly be done by everyone with any skin types. Unlike what many may think, this is not intended for sensitive skins only. I personally deal with combination skin, but certainly react to some ingredients [ and yes I am unfortunately one of those who doesn't patch test...don't judge me! ] It's a good way to assess what ingredients your skin loves and which ones it doesn't.
Whether you choose to patch test from now on, or not, is totally up to you! I wrote this article in hopes that I will start patch testing more often and hopefully convince some of you to do the same! You may not have sensitive skin but for some reason that moisturizer you just tried that has AHAs as a main ingredient made your face all red! This could have been avoided with a patch test! Also, who doesn't like to feel kind of like a dermatologist for the next 48 hours and analyzing skin?