How to Test Skincare Products the RIGHT Way

How to Test Skincare Products the RIGHT Way

You don’t need to have sensitive skin to be careful with applying new skincare products or adding new products to your skincare ritual. It’s essential for everyone to know how to test skincare products for their safety and wellbeing. We can definitely get carried away with getting giddy and excited over something with cute packaging and wanting to smother our faces in it immediately, but that, unfortunately, can sometimes bring irritation, or an allergic reaction if we’re not careful.

That’s why you should:

  1. Go in with a plan for what you’re looking for (after doing your research on what’s best for your skin)
  2. Check your products’ ingredient lists
  3. Don’t fall for cute packaging or a name brand
  4. Do your product patch test
  5. Know what reactions to look for

It’s important to have a plan of action when tackling skincare. Not all products work the same on all skin moods. Find out what your skin mood is and how to take care of it to its full potential. Once you’ve found this information, you’re ready to find what you need, and learn how to test it on yourself properly!

What is a Patch Test and How to Do One Successfully

A patch test is an easy way to check whether or not your skin will react to a new product. They are typically done somewhere on the arm (inside of the elbow) or even behind the knee. Definitely pick a spot where it can be left untouched for 24 hours.

Let's go over how to test skincare products using a patch test metod. You should first wash the area you’re going to test, and then evenly apply a small patch of whatever the select product is onto the area. Cover the patch with a bandaid, and let it sit for 24 hours.

If you’re prone to very sensitive skin, or skin that seems to go through sensitive ~moods~, we’d recommend doing a patch test like this more than once. Maybe for 3-4 days or so just to make sure there’s no effects that come about after 24 hours. If after this time there is no irritation and everything looks as it should, you can move on to your face.

How to Test Skincare Products the RIGHT Way

Negative Reactions to Look For

After taking off the bandaid, there may be some initial pink or redness, but that should go away after a little. The thing to look for would be prolonged redness or irritation, which may indicate a mild reaction or allergy. A severe reaction or allergy would be indicated by very red, raised, itchy, or rash-like skin. If this happens to you, make sure you seek treatment for it, and immediately discontinue use of the product.

Ingredients to Watch Out For That May Cause Irritation:

  • Alpha-hydroxy and beta-hydroxy acids, such as glycolic acid and salicylic acid: Can cause dryness, redness, and burning
  • Emollients: Can clog pores and cause breakouts
  • Synthetic fragrances: Made of other components that aren’t usually listed
  • Parabens: Can disrupt your hormones by mimicking estrogen 
  • Sulphates (aka ‘sulfates’ on some products): Can cause skin canker sores, eye damage, and acne

If you notice any of these ingredients on the label, and they've irritated you in the past, even learning how to test skincare products could mean these aren't going to work well for you. And that's ok. The goal here is to find what does work for you by testing carefully.

What Changes to Look For Overtime

Even if the patch test went successfully for you and there were no negative reactions, you should still be aware of any changes in your skin once you go ahead and start applying the new product to your entire face. You should use caution and not use too much of one new product right away, or mix it with too many other new products.

Hannah Baxrer, a Senior Beauty Editor at Coveteur says that changes to look for when testing new skincare products include skin consistency and texture. You can also look for any moisturizers or sunscreens that may leave a film, any serums that make your makeup pill, or come off easily throughout the day, and whether or not a makeup remover needs a pre-cleanse or not.

The Importance of Reading Labels

Look I get it. You’re excited to use a product, and it seems to be working well, and you want to use it every day to keep getting the same stunning results you're seeing so far. The problem is that the packaging is telling you to only use said product no more than twice a week. Do yourself a favor. If a label says “use a thin layer”, “don’t leave on for more than 10 minutes”, “use twice a week”, do as instructed.

The label is telling you these things for a reason. Some products are truly only meant to be used twice a week, like a lot of exfoliants. Choosing to ignore these instructions can lead to irritation, redness, and rashes, even if they’re not caused by an allergic reaction! Your skin will thank you.

“I Tried a Product and I Don’t Like It… Now What?”

You tried it, gave it time, and it didn’t do its thing. Or maybe, you followed the guide on how to test skincare products with a patch test, and you had a reaction to it. Either way, now you have a new-ish bottle of product with no purpose in your skincare ritual. Donating gently used products is the ideal solution because someone else can benefit from it. You might have to call around and see if your local place of donation will accept these types of products, though.

Another option is to talk to friends! Get a feel for what they are looking for in terms of skincare products, and they can have a try at it. Who knows? Maybe they have a product that they didn’t like also, and that might work better for you, and y’all can swap them. 

Final Thoughts

Everyone’s skin is different, I totally get that. To play it safe, we should all be testing new skincare products before using them in order to avoid a bad reaction to them. Remember to look out for specific ingredients that are linked to effects like rashes and irritation.

Do. Your. Research. Find out what’s best for your skin, and don’t branch out too far from there. It’s okay to be adventurous and want to try new products because an influencer continues to rave about it, but there are ways we can test the products out beforehand to make sure we don’t end up harming ourselves!

Written by Adriana Rivera


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  1. https://www.byrdie.com/how-to-donate-your-barely-used-beauty-products-3974608
  2. https://www.adorebeauty.com.au/skin-care/concerns/sensitive/guide/new-product-test
  3. https://seoulmamas.com/how-to-patch-test-a-cosmetic-product/
  4. https://inthemirra.com/blogs/news/patch-test-makeup
  5. https://www.thezoereport.com/p/how-to-test-skin-care-products-like-a-beauty-editor-52468450
  6. https://www.geekyposh.com/repurpose-unwanted-skincare-products/

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