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Excited To Use a New Skincare Product: Do a Patch Test First

Medically reviewed by Martha Juco, MD · Aesthetics

Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Aug 25, 2022

Excited To Use a New Skincare Product: Do a Patch Test First

Did you ever get the feeling of wanting to use a skincare product right away because it has raving reviews? However, no matter how much you want to dive right into it, you need to be careful, especially when trying a new line composed of many products. Learn more about the patch test procedure and other reminders when trying a new skincare product. 

Patch Test: What Is It For?

In dermatology, patch testing is a diagnostic tool for people with contact dermatitis. Doctors use a patch test to determine whether a particular substance causes or aggravates their condition. 

The steps in a patch test varies, but generally, it involves tiny amounts of numerous materials individually placed in a plastic square or round aluminum chamber. The materials are then placed on the patient’s back, secured by a huge adhesive tape. 

At the second appointment (usually after 2 days), the dermatologist would remove the patch, and, using a pen with indelible ink, mark the skin for any notable findings. The final look for any reaction usually occurs at the third appointment, which is typically 4 days after the application. 

Now, patch testing a new skincare product has almost the same procedures. However, you can do it at home, and it usually only takes 24 hours. 

How To Do a Patch Test for New Cosmetic Products

Experts recommend doing a patch test before using a new product, especially if you have sensitive skin or known allergies. 

Note that sensitive skin is more likely to react to products you leave on, such as toners, moisturizers, serums, or eye creams, as opposed to cleansers, which you rinse right away. 

Here’s the patch test procedure:

  1. Choose an area where you’ll apply the product. Experts say the inside of the elbow is a good starting point. Alternatively, you can also apply the product to the skin behind the ear or side of the neck. 
  2. Take a small amount of the product and apply it to your chosen skin area. 
  3. Leave the product on for 24 hours. 
  4. If you develop a reaction to the product (redness, itchiness, breakout, etc.) do not proceed with using it. If you’re determined to use the product, consult your dermatologist for advice. 
  5. In case there’s no reaction, you may introduce the product slowly. For instance, instead of lathering it generously, consider applying a thin layer first. 

According to reports, contact dermatitis due to cosmetics usually subsides once the allergen is removed. If the reaction is bothering you, consider applying an over-the-counter cream containing a mild topical steroid (example: hydrocortisone). However, it is important to remember that steroid-containing creams should only be used sparingly and are not intended for long-term or chronic use.

patch test

Additional Tips When Using New Skincare Products

Besides doing a patch test, remember the following tips when using a new skincare product:

  • Switching products? Rest your skin first. That means not applying anything to it for a couple of days before using the new product. 
  • Apply one product at a time. This tip is particularly important when trying a new line consisting of products you need to apply on top of another (serum, moisturizer, eye cream, etc.)
  • Even if the patch test didn’t result in any reaction, continue to assess how your skin responds to the product. You may not be allergic to it, but there’s still a chance that the product isn’t right for you.
  • Allow a couple of months before deciding to change the product again. This is because it usually takes about 3 to 4 months to see if the product is working. 
  • Just because the product says it’s “natural” or “organic” doesn’t mean it’s safe. 

Key Takeaways

Doing a patch test gives you an idea of how your skin would react to the new cosmetic product. If you want to try a new product line, experts recommend not skipping the patch test procedure. 

Learn more about Skin Health here


Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Medically reviewed by

Martha Juco, MD


Written by Lorraine Bunag, R.N. · Updated Aug 25, 2022

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