If you have sensitive skin, chances are you know your way around a patch test. For those unfamiliar, patch testing is essentially testing a new skin care product on a small patch of skin (get it?) before slathering the confection on your entire face and risking a reaction.
Now, some people can get away with patch testing on the inside of their wrist or on the skin behind their ear—if you don’t face a reaction there, it’s a safe bet for your face, right? Wrong. Especially for those with sensitive skin, patch testing requires a bit more time and effort. “The biggest mistake people make with home patch testing is not waiting long enough to see if there is a reaction,” says Mehrotra. “Contact dermatitis, aka topical skin allergies, tends to cause reactions in a delayed fashion, with a reaction starting any time from the time of exposure up to a few days later.”
So to patch test at home, she recommends applying a dime-sized amount of product right on your jawline for two to three days. Each morning, assess the spot for any bumps, redness, irritation, or rash. “If you are all clear by day four or five, you can proceed with trying the product on your face,” Mehrotra says. That may sound like a bigger time commitment, but tending to inflamed, reactive skin is a much bigger lift, don’t you think?