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Do a Skin Patch Test Before Buying Skin Care Products

a woman testing lipstick for an allergic reaction on her wrist
RecycleMan/Shutterstock

Allergies and skin sensitivities can make using skincare products, including makeup, a nightmare. Before you buy items you later find you can’t use, do this quick test to check your sensitivity.

Patch tests are easy to do and don’t require much preparation. For most of us, a quick reaction is what we’re looking for—you might not have 24 hours to wait for a reaction when you’re in the store looking for the best hand cream or perfume.

The two areas that are best to use are the inside of the wrist and the inside of the elbow. Both areas have thinner, more sensitive skin that will give you the quickest reaction. If you’re heading out to buy skincare items, make sure you shower first (or, at least, wash your arms). You want a clean surface for testing.

  • Apply product to test area: Put a dab of the product you’re testing on the inside of your wrist or elbow. If you’re trying a perfume, just spray it on. If you’re trying makeup, lotion, or something else that “rubs” on, rub a little on. Only test one product per area at a time. If you’re testing more than one, keep track of which area each you’re checking which product.
  • Watch for reaction: Patch testing can help you pinpoint more than just skin irritation; it gives you a chance to see if the scent of a product will bother you as well. For highly sensitive skin and allergens, you should notice a reaction reasonably quickly.
  • Extended testing time: If you have the time to wait longer, or you didn’t see a reaction right away but still have concerns, you can cover your test area with a bandage (to keep the product in place). After 24 hours, if there’s no rash or itching, you’re good to go.

Finally, if you do have any adverse reaction to a product, wash it off with soap and warm water immediately. If you have an allergic reaction, you might want to take an antihistamine or use an antihistamine cream on the spot.

Yvonne Glasgow Yvonne Glasgow
Yvonne Glasgow is a professional writer with two decades of experience. She has written and edited for nutritionists, start-ups, dating companies, SEO firms, newspapers, board game companies, and more. Yvonne is a published poet and short story writer, and she is a life coach. Read Full Bio »

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