A Guide to Trying New Skin Care Products Safely

Key Takeaways:

  • Before integrating a new skin care product into your routine, it is recommended to perform a patch test to avoid unexpected allergic reactions. This test involves applying the product to a small skin area twice daily for seven to ten days.
  • Products labelled as ‘hypoallergenic’, ‘clean’, or ‘natural’ are not exempt from potentially causing skin reactions. Therefore, undertaking a patch test remains vital, irrespective of these labels.
  • A reaction to certain ingredients such as retinol and glycolic acid might not necessarily indicate an allergy, but could be a standard and temporary irritation.
  • If a skin reaction occurs after a patch test, the product should be discontinued immediately and the affected area rinsed off. A cool compress or petroleum jelly can offer relief, and if there is no improvement, a dermatologist should be consulted.
  • Once an irritant has been identified, it’s best to avoid it in future skincare choices. Fragrance-sensitive individuals, for instance, should opt for fragrance-free options and be cautious of ‘unscented’ plant-based products, which can still contain fragrant ingredients.

There’s nothing as thrilling as introducing a new skin care product into your regimen, often with hopeful anticipation of the potential benefits it promises. However, sometimes this excitement can be cut short by unexpected allergic reactions resulting in itchy, red, or swollen skin due to a reaction to one of the product’s ingredients.

The smart approach to prevent this undesired outcome when experimenting with fresh skin care items is performing a test patch on a few distinct skin regions to see if your skin’s likely to exhibit an irritation, suggest board-certified dermatologists.

Identifying Allergens in Skin Care

“A staggering total of over 15,000 allergens may trigger allergic contact dermatitis, with skin care items being a prevalent origin,” says Dr. Bruce Brod. Products labelled as ‘hypoallergenic’, ‘clean’, or ‘natural’ are not exempted, hence, it’s crucial to implement a patch test before making a new skin care product part of your regular routine.

Proper Product Testing Procedure

To execute this test, Dr. Brod recommends applying the item to a quarter-sized test patch twice daily for a duration of seven to ten days. Opt for an area that is less likely to be rubbed off or washed away, like beneath your arm or inside your elbow. Apply the product in the same quantity and thickness as you would in a normal use.

If the product is one that would usually be washed off, such as a cleanser, let it sit on your skin for about five minutes or as instructed by the product’s directions. If your skin remains calm for the test period, it is likely safe to proceed with the product.

Certain ingredients in skin care products, like retinol and glycolic acid, might instigate skin irritation. This, however, is a standard and temporal phenomenon.

Handling Skin Reactions

If a skin reaction arises, discontinue the product immediately and rinse it off. Employing a cool compress or petroleum jelly could offer some relief to your skin. If there’s no improvement, you may need to book an appointment with a dermatologist.

If the exact irritant or allergen causing your skin’s reaction proves difficult to pinpoint, a discussion with a board-certified dermatologist might be helpful. In some instances, undergoing a medical patch test may be required to accurately identify the irritant.

Post-reaction Skin Care

Once you’ve determined the irritant, it’s best to avoid that ingredient in your future skin care choices. Those who find fragrances irritating, for instance, should opt for fragrance-free options. However, consumers should be cautious of ‘unscented’ plant-based products, which may still contain fragrant ingredients.

Further Information

The National Eczema Association provides additional insights into contact dermatitis.

SOURCE: Anonymous dermatology professionals, August 2021

Susan Levin

Hello, wellness enthusiasts! I'm Dr. Susan Levin, and while I may share a name with a certain American film producer, our domains couldn’t be more different! My silver screen is the world of medical science, and I have a deep-rooted passion for guiding individuals on their health journeys.Born and raised amidst the picturesque landscapes of Great Britain, I've also called the vibrant state of New Jersey my home for a significant chapter of my life. Both places have contributed to my understanding of health, community, and the diverse lifestyles that shape our well-being.With an M.D. in hand and a wealth of knowledge from years of practice, my goal on TheAthletarian.com is to translate complex medical jargon into understandable, actionable advice for our readers. From the latest health trends to tried-and-true practices, I aim to be your reliable source for all things health and wellness.Join me as we unravel the intricacies of the human body and mind, ensuring that your health journey is informed, inspired, and most importantly, effective.
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