Test patching: Your new best friend

We all know that initial excitement when you buy a new hair or body product. You just want to rush home and try it on, and cannot wait until it gives you a fresh, new look! And then finally….oh wait a second what is this? Oh it’s just a couple pimples. Wait a second…no now they’re everywhere! It can be hard to resist, but test patching is something important most people should do, even more so if you have acne prone or sensitive skin.

 Acne prone? Apply on your most troublesome facial spots

 The reasoning behind this is pretty self-explanatory. Whenever trying out a new facial product, apply to the areas on your face that are most prone to clogging up. Another reason for applying on small sections of the face is because the pores on our face are larger than on any other part of the body. Thus, there is a higher chance of certain ingredients being able to enter the pores and clog them, causing bacteria to stay within the plug created and sprout into acne. 

 Is this going to irritate me? Apply on sensitive spots on your body

 Irritation differs from allergic reactions, in that it is a substance that would cause inflammation in most individuals if applied in a certain dose and amount of time. When testing out potential irritating ingredients it is recommended to apply them to small areas on the wrist or on the skin on inside of elbow. These are areas of the body that are thin and pliable, have less of a rough barrier, making it easier for ingredients to penetrate.

Allergic reactions? Apply behind the ear

 Allergic reactions are defined by specificity in reaction to an ingredient by an individual. This hypersensitivity is in direct connection to your body’s immune system. The back of the ear has a very thin layer that is easily penetrable, making it great for testing for allergies.

 How long should I test patch for?

 The average amount of time recommended for a test patch is application daily for at least a week. Some allergic reactions/irritations can become apparent within 24 hours. Some acne-ic reactions can sometimes even take as long as a month to appear. Although these are the three most common areas to test patch, if using a very body part specific product (such as deodorant), you may apply on a small spot in that area instead, as the reaction may not be the same.  

BHAs and AHAs: Your skin will thank you

Alpha hydroxy acids and beta hydroxy acids are two beneficial skin exfoliants found in many face washes/toners/and anti aging remedies. Many of you may even be using them without knowing so! These are great ingredients to incorporate into your skin care regimen but to really get the full benefits you must know what skin types each ingredient is geared specifically to.

Why are they beneficial?

As you know, your skin naturally sheds off billions of skin cells off each day. However, not all skin types exfoliate at the same rate. Factors such as sun damage, aging, acne prone skin, etc. can slow down the exfoliation process. Usage of chemical exfoliants (like BHAs/AHAs) can help your skin speed up this process and result in smoother skin with less hyper pigmentation.

 Okay, so what are the differences between them?

 Alpha hydroxy acids are water-soluble, i.e. you should not be using them in tandem with any products that contain oils. If you do this will cause AHAs to not work as effectively. AHAs are also better suited to people with dry skin because they are humectants. Humectants are substances that are able to attract and retain moisture from the air. They have this ability thanks to the higher amount of hydroxyl ( -OH ) groups they contain, which allow hydrogen to bond with water.

Some AHAs include lactic acid, citric acid, and glycolic acid.

Beta hydroxyl acid (the most commonly used is salicylic acid) is oil soluble and you can use it with any products containing oils and it will remain effective. BHA is better geared towards acne prone skin because it is better at penetrating pores and “unplugging” them.

BHA

This is a cheap but effective product containing BHA!

Some things to remember…

 Some negatives of using chemical exfolliants is that they carry the chance of initial purging (they will cause acne). This occurs because the rapid exfoliation of skin brings plugged pores more rapidly to the surface, resulting in acne (that would have taken longer to rise) popping up more frequently than usual. Remember that this is only temporary and usually ceases within a month.

Another important fact is that BHAs/AHAs significantly raise your skin’s sensitivity to UV light. If you decide to use products containing these ingredients make sure to always use sunscreen!