As natural beauty junkies, we know all too well how tempting it is to be lured into a brand new product after hearing recommendations from trusted beauty store assistants, bloggers and beauty editors - only to discover it has your skin reacting badly. In beauty, one size does not fit all and if you're switching to a new targeted treatment product - whether it be for banishing breakouts, reducing redness or targeting pigmentation - they often come with a higher concentration of actives. So if you have a history of reaction and your skin is hyper-sensitive, an element of caution is wise. We suggest trying before buying via our online sample service or natural beauty travel sets.
So how does one 'try' the product to avoid any surprises? With a patch test. Follow our simple step-by-step guide below and you will get an indication of whether you will react to a product when used over a larger area of skin.
Why Do A Patch Test
A patch test will help identify if you will have an adverse reaction to a product. It is not designed to try a product to see if it ‘works’ – you will not see wrinkles vanish from a patch test. At minimum, patch testing should be done 3 days in advance of a treatment or purchase.
Step One: Request a Sample - Whether you are trying a new facial for the first time or want to switch brands, most spas or stores will be happy to supply a sample to try at home, while some brands do great trial or gift sets, containing mini sizes of the products. Take advantage of these if you want to switch ranges, which often contain a full regime to try over a longer period of time and will help you identify any accumulative ill affects.
Step Two: Apply the Sample - Use a cotton bud and apply a small amount of the product behind the ears, making a note of what product was applied where. You can use two different products, but just place one behind each ear and make sure you get your left and right correct. If you are currently using a steroid cream, or have been taking prescribed anti-inflammatory medication, your test may not be accurate. We recommend seeking advise from your doctor before changing your skincare products, as they can give you qualified advice.
Step Three: Wait - A patch test is normally left on for 24 hours, however if you are prone to reactions it is a good idea to leave on for 48 hours as it will allow time for delayed reactions to appear. Even better, apply in the same area over a few days. One thing to note: if applying after showering, the heat and humidity of the shower can affect the results so wait 15 minutes for the skin to return to its normal state.
Step Four: Review results – There is often confusion over an allergic reaction and an irritation to the skin. Neither is desirable, but it is important to note the difference:
- Irritant Reaction - Stinging, redness, or burning. This may be a fairly instant reaction and can be affected by the concentration of the ingredients used: for instance, an essential oil may cause a reaction when in a high concentration within an oil, but may not do so when used in a smaller percentage as part of a fragrance element in a moisturiser.
- Allergic Reaction – Usually presents itself as intense itchiness, soreness and red bumps under the surface of the skin, or raised areas of dryness or flaking like eczema. In severe cases it can even cause respiratory problems or nausea. Stop use immediately and wash the area thoroughly. With the later contact your doctor, pronto.
- Pigmentation Reaction - Sudden and noticeable lightening or darkening of the skin. Stop use immediately and wash the area.
Once you have the results, let your facialist know prior to your treatment - or if switching products, return to the store to discuss alternatives. It can be a bit of a process to find the best products to suit your skin but for the hyper-sensitive it is worth the wait!