Why we should always patch test

Jess Henshall

Patch testing is an unspoken rule we all know we should be doing, but the thrill of a new product often has us blissfully ignoring. Sample products are often found along with the actual product on a shop shelf, there with the intention that we can do a patch test (not just smell the product which most of us end up doing!). Laziness and excitement has us forgetting to do a patch test, but it is so important to try out a product before buying as you never know how your skin will react to its ingredients.

Patch testing helps us to identify if we have any reactions to the products. It won’t let us see if the product ‘works’ (such as reducing wrinkles or helping skin issues), as the patch test isn't done on the face. You should always do a patch test at least 3 days before using or buying a product to see if you react.

Steps to doing a patch test:

1. Request or use a sample

Some brands offer small sample sizes of their product, whilst others sell trial sized versions. Shops selling beauty or skincare products will often have a full sized sample of the product for customers to try a squirt of. 

2. Apply sample to your inner elbow

Use a cotton bud to apply a small amount of the product to the soft skin of your inner elbow. You can try two different products at a time, just put the different products on either arm and remember which side is which product. 

3. Wait

It’s a good idea to leave a patch test on for around 3 days to see if any reaction occurs. This allows time for any delayed reactions to appear. 

4. Check your skin

See if you react to the product by checking the skin - there is a difference between an allergic reaction or irritation to the skin so make sure you know which is which. Irritation might be stinging, redness or burning which could be caused by an essential oil. An allergic reaction will present itself as extreme itchiness, soreness, red bumps or eczema - if this occurs, stop using the product straight away and contact your doctor if needed.