All too often, when people buy a new skin care product, they cannot wait to get home and immediately try it out, slathering it all over their face at the first opportunity. However, even if you do not have sensitive skin or any known allergies, severe reactions to certain ingredients can still occur, making a patch test absolutely vital.

What is a Patch Test?
A patch test is when you apply a new product to a small patch of skin, and then wait for 24 hours, before examining that area for any signs of redness or irritation. The patch that you choose needs to be large enough for you to be able to notice if there are any problems, but small enough for you to be able to deal with any problems quickly and effectively. 24 hours is usually the recommended amount of time that you do a patch test for, although it can sometimes take longer than this for a reaction to become apparent.

Choosing a Patch
If you are performing a patch test to see whether or not you are allergic to something, then the best location for this patch is behind your ear, whereas if you want to see whether or not a specific product causes irritation, then choose the area of skin that is usually the most sensitive. When it comes to checking whether or not a product will clog your pores or cause breakouts, you should perform the patch test on an area where you usually experience frequent breakouts, as this is the part of your skin that would be the most vulnerable to a new product. Somewhere on your cheek, near to your nose, is often best for this, as there are a larger amount of pores here, so the product will be able to fully penetrate your skin. If you are testing for breakouts, in particular, a patch test that lasts for seven to ten days is recommended, as breakouts will often not occur immediately.

What are Reactions Caused By?
A reaction to a product is usually due to one or more of its ingredients not agreeing with your skin. The most common ingredient to cause a reaction is usually listed as a fragrance, as this term can encompass a wide range of different chemicals. Most reactions are also caused by products that are designed to remain on your face, such as with a serum or moisturizer, rather than a product that is rinsed off, such as a cleanser.

When performing a patch test, keep in mind that certain ingredients, such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid and lactic acid, can often make your skin appear slightly red, but this will usually subside within 15 minutes, and is not a sign of a reaction. While a patch test may seem unnecessary at times, especially if your skin is usually able to tolerate just about every product, it only takes one new ingredient to cause a reaction, and a patch test will ensure that your skin remains healthy and well protected.