Here’s Your Essential Guide To Patch Testing

patch testing

Now that I spend a few hours a day doing skincare consultations, encouraging my clients to patch test has become an important aspect of what I do. But I realized, most people don’t know how to patch test. And even more don’t bother to do it at all.

It’s really tempting to go home after a long day of shopping at Sephora and slather on that new serum or moisturizer you saw your favorite influencer showcase on Instagram, but don’t. Even if you don’t have sensitive skin, your skin can and will react to a new product.

For example, I did my research on prickly pear seed oil. I even outlined the benefits in a blog post and created a killer visual on Instagram. But after 3 days of consistent use, my face went from flawless to a minefield of white heads. So even though I don’t practice what I preach, patch testing is very important.

This influencer used First Aid Beauty Moisturizer after a bad reaction to a product she didn’t patch test:

“And this is why we patch test ladies (and gentlemen). Whenever you are trying a new product, it’s a good idea to do a quick patch test, even if you aren’t usually sensitive. Apply a small amount of the product to the side of your neck, just behind your ear, and follow product directions, to check for a reaction. This spot is a good one to use, because it’s out of the way (in case you get a red blotch), but still should behave like the skin on your face. If you do have an adverse reaction to a product, wash your face immediately, with a gentle cleanser, and cool water. Hydrate skin with a simple product that you have used before, or something made for sensitive skin. I used #firstaidbeauty Instant Oatmeal Mask to calm things down, before applying their Ultra Repair Cream.” – @casually_gorgeous

A post shared by First Aid Beauty (@firstaidbeauty) on


What is a patch test?

Patch testing is a testing a new product to a small section, or patch of your skin to see how it will react. You can patch test for allergy, irritation or acne.

How to patch test:

  • Allergy– Place a dime-sized amount of the product and rub behind the ear. Most allergic reactions are immediate, so look out for rash, itching, or irritation. If you experience a reaction, cleanse that area immediately.
  • Acne– Place a dime-sized amount of product in the area you experience acne the most. Testing for acne reactions take a little longer, but you should see acne 24-48 hours after testing.
  • Irritation– Place a dime-sized amount of product in the area you experience irritation the most. As with acne, you should see irritation 24-48 hours after testing the area.

I had a reaction! Now what?

If you have a reaction, don’t question it, discontinue use. If you kept your receipt, return the product for a refund. If you do not have your receipt, contact the retailer and inquire about their return policy with no receipt. If it was a sample, trash it.

That’s it, folks! Talk to me in the comments! Tell me about the product you didn’t patch test.

More about Aprill

Aprill Coleman is an award-winning beauty, lifestyle and wellness blogger and freelance writer based in Jackson, Mississippi.

One thought on “Here’s Your Essential Guide To Patch Testing

  1. Shanta @ BuryMeInRedLipstick

    I don’t have any patch test horror stories but I’ll be slapping stuff on my chin and cheeks to test for acne now. Thanks, Aprill!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.