Beauty, Skincare

How and Why to Patch Test New Products


The Patch Test. Something we don’t really want to do, but after suffering an allergic reaction or an aggressive breakout… we learn it is necessary. You should always patch test before you incorporate new skincare or make-up product into your daily routine or life. It’s so important to do this step when trying to treat a skin problem or if you have sensitive or acne prone skin, because not only will it prevent a potential breakout, but it can be an indispensable tool in helping you discover what your skin does and doesn’t like.

This lesson hits close to home with me. I never considered patch testing before. I was impatient and hard headed. I never kept track of what I was using, what was in it or when I was using it. Then I suffered a major and horrible breakout all over my face, worse than I ever have before. I was upset, especially since I was breaking out in places I never had before, but I didn’t even think about what was causing it. After a few months I decided it was a new primer/BB cream I had picked up on a whim while traveling. But I carried on using the product because “what the hell, I already paid the $10, might as well finish the bottle.” Two years later and I am still recovering from the PIH and acne scars I received from that misguided purchase and daft mindset. I still like to drag my feet when it comes to patch testing, but when done right, it shouldn’t be as annoying as it seems. Waiting a week to fully try a new product might be trying on the patience, but it beats having a horrible breakout that could have been avoided.


Everyone. Especially if you have sensitive skin or are acne-prone. Who knows? You might be that one person who is allergic to rabbit placenta…or whatever weird ingredient happens to be the new hip thing.


A patch test is applying a new product to a small inch size patch of skin to see if you have an adverse reaction. A patch test should be done before using or adding any new product to your routine.


Rule of thumb is to test a place that is easily covered if a reaction does occur, like the patch of jaw under your ear or a forehead that can be hidden by bangs. There are also certain places that are prime for checking for particular issues.

Behind the ear – if you want to see if you are allergic

Your most sensitive irritation-prone area – if you testing for irritation

Your most acne-prone area – if you are seeing if it will cause break-out

So if you tend to break out on your forehead or cheeks, and you want to make sure your new product won’t break you out, apply the product to those areas. If you constantly have issues with allergic reactions, try behind your ear. And so on and so on.


Always patch test before full-blown adding a new product to your daily routine. While reactions can occur anywhere from within a few hours to only showing up after weeks of use, a good rule of thumb is to patch test a product for at least a week before deciding if it passes.

So, if you bought four new products while excited to start your new skincare journey, you would start with patch testing one a week. Product 1 for one week, product 2 for week two, and so on.


A patch test is so important when you want to learn more and start to understand your skin. You could learn about small allergens you’re sensitive to or what is slowing your progress to clear skin. If you start using 4 brand new products at the same time and you suffer a massive break-out you wouldn’t know which product caused it. You can also pinpoint reactions to an ingredient you can try to avoid in the future.

How to Patch Test

While patch testing a new product, no matter what it is, use old tried-and-true products that you know don’t cause a reaction alongside it. Make sure the only unknown product is the one you’re testing.

Apply the new product to a small patch of skin; behind the ear, far side of the cheek, forehead, underneath the chin. While up-keeping your normal routine, apply this product to a small patch of skin once a day for at least a week. If you don’t see any warning signs, continue onto using it everywhere!
Pro Tip!

Big box beauty stores, and even some smaller online ones, have amazing return policies that seem to have been made for this very reason. If you don’t like a product, even after opening it and using it, you can return it to stores like Sephora and Ulta. So if you’re unsure about a new product, definitely try to take advantage of their return policies and be skin-aware and PATCH TEST. There’s no excuse now, unless you’re like me and feel guilty about spending any amount of money and find yourself swearing to patch test after I finish this bottle.

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