How to test skin care products to avoid 3 possible skin reactions

How to test skin care products to avoid 3 possible skin reactions

It is exciting to try a new skin care product. However, if you dive right away without patching testing, you could cause a negative reaction. That’s why I always suggest that you do a patch test at home before using a new skin care product — especially if you have extremely sensitive skin.

In this post, I will share how I conduct a patch test at home to avoid three possible skin reactions. These include an allergic reaction, sensitivity (irritation) and clogged pores. I will also share additional insights from Dr. Joshua Zeichner, a board-certified dermatologist and director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

What is a patch test?

Before we talk about how to test skin care products, let’s talk about what a patch test is and why it is necessary. In dermatology, the patch test is a diagnostic test that determines which ingredients cause an allergic reaction on a patient’s skin.

“Patch testing is a procedure in which patches containing various allergen-causing ingredients are applied to the skin to determine which one is causing the reaction,” says Zeichner. “It’s often hard to determine which particular ingredient you’re sensitive to, so patch testing helps with detective work. You may not be able to tolerate the product just because of one ingredient it contains. ”

Testing patches at home is a little different. It involves applying a small amount of a new product to a specific area of ​​the skin to see if it is causing a reaction. This is important because you can rarely tell if a product is compatible with your skin until you try it. The last thing you want is to apply it all over your skin and experience a negative reaction. And while the traditional patch test is used to test for allergies, it can also be used to test for sensitivity and even clogged pores.

Should I test every new skin care product I use?

Experts have recommended testing every new skin care product. However, I realize this is pretty bulky. In addition, statistically speaking, the risk of an allergic reaction is quite low. The majority of the population has no allergies or hypersensitivity. Therefore, at the very least, I recommend testing any product that contains active ingredients such as AHA, BHA, retinol and vitamin C. These ingredients are active on the skin and are more likely to cause reactions.

In addition, sometimes there is no shortcut. If you know you have super sensitive or allergic skin, I recommend testing every new skin care product. The last thing you want is to cause a complete allergic reaction!

You should also test each new skin care product if you know you are allergic to a particular ingredient, such as fragrance. Even if the product is labeled as “odorless”, it can still cause a reaction. This is because in the United States, odor allergens do not have to be labeled. In addition, many products contain botanical extracts that contain the same potential allergens as fragrances.

The same is true if you are allergic to certain preservatives because there may be a cross-allergy to other preservatives. Also, in the United States, brands are not required to list processing aids and impurities on product labels. In other countries, such as the European Union, brands are usually required to contain sub-preservatives.

How do I perform a patch test for an allergic reaction?

For a patch test for an allergic reaction, apply a small amount of the product on the side of the face. I suggest applying it above the jaw or behind the ear. Make sure your skin is clean. This ensures that there is no residue or contact that interferes with the oil. It is usually recommended to leave the product for 24 hours. Then follow the skin for another 24 hours. This is because it can take up to 48 hours for your immune system to respond to the allergen. It can occur before; it all depends on your immune system and the severity of the allergy.

Although 24 hours of contact is standard, I only test new products for as long as they should stay on the skin (like moisturizers or serums). When it comes to rinsing products, such as cleansers or masks, I only test them for as long as they should be on the skin. So, for cleaning products, I keep them for about a minute. I hold them for masks for about 15 minutes.

After applying the product on clean skin, watch out for signs of an allergic reaction for 48 hours. This can manifest anywhere, because an allergic reaction is a systematic (not localized) reaction. It may manifest as a skin rash, severe itching, swelling or tingling. It may be obvious, but if you experience any of these things, do not use the product. I would also recommend that you consult a dermatologist to determine which ingredient caused the allergic response.

How can I do a patch test for sensitivity (irritation)?

For patch susceptibility testing, follow the same protocol as allergy patch testing. The difference is that the irritation will appear immediately, while the allergic reaction can take hours or days to appear. Also, irritation is localized, which means it appears wherever you apply the product. An allergic reaction, on the other hand, is a systematic response.

It is also worth noting that the skin barrier can vary in different areas. This means that the product can cause irritation on your neck even if it does not cause irritation on your face (or vice versa). Although I suggest that face products be tested in a patch by applying them near the jaw, you could consider testing products such as neck cream on the neck. Basically, when it comes to localized irritation, you want to test the patch in the area where you will actually use the product.

Note: If you are testing a product that contains exfoliating acids, it is normal for the skin to look pink. This should disappear within 10-15 minutes, especially after applying moisturizer.

How do I perform a patch test for clogged pores?

This is tricky because there is technically no standardized way to patch test for comedones (clogged pores). There is also no time frame when comedones will appear. Among other things, it depends on the individual, the product, the ingredients and the microbiome of the skin.

“Comedogenicity refers to the ability of a product to clog pores,” says Dr. Zeichner. “Traditional testing has been conducted on animal models such as rats or rabbits. With the movement against the use of animal testing, many brands are now assessing comedogenicity using it on human skin. Some companies may even claim comedogenicity based on the use of ingredients that block or do not block pores. ”

Plus, if you’re particularly prone to clogged pores (like skin type 1, 2, or 3), you can still do your own test at home. The cheek (near the nose) is a good place to perform this type of test. This is because there is a higher concentration of sebaceous glands and pores in this area.

If the product will cause acne, it will not happen after one use. To really test for cracks and clogged pores, consider testing a small area for 7-10 days to be careful. If all goes well, you can continue to use the product all over your face.

Bottom Line

Conducting a patch test is the best way to avoid unnecessary reactions to a new skin care product. It is worth noting that it is possible to develop an allergic reaction to something you have used before. The reason for that is not clear, but it is certainly possible. If you think you are allergic to a particular product or ingredient, consult a dermatologist to find out what it is.

It is also possible to experience irritation from a product / ingredient you have used before if your moisture barrier is compromised. That’s why it’s important to make sure your barrier is strong and intact before introducing new products into your routine.

Then learn how to quickly soothe red, irritated skin!

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