Patch Testing: A Comprehensive Guide for Melanin-Rich Skin

We know. Even before you have left the store, you are already smothering your face with what you just bought. We implore you to insert a patch test going forward for your skincare products, even if you have used the brand before.

Patch testing is a crucial step in any skincare routine, especially for individuals with melanin-rich skin tones. Due to the unique characteristics of our skin, it’s essential to understand how to effectively perform a patch test to minimize the risk of adverse reactions, worsen hyperpigmentation, and ensure a positive experience with new skincare products. In this guide, we will talk, and walk you through the detailed steps of a patch test, and provide specific considerations for melanin-rich skin tones and special ingredients like retinol and acids.

What is a Patch Test?

A patch test involves applying a small amount of a new skincare product to a designated area of your skin to assess any potential allergic reactions or sensitivities. This preliminary test helps determine if the product is suitable for your skin before applying it more broadly, i.e smothering it all over your face!

Step-by-Step Guide to Patch Testing:

1. Choose your Test Area:

   Select a small, inconspicuous area of your skin, such as the inside of your wrist or forearm. Ensure that the skin in the test area is clean and free from any existing irritation, cuts, or wounds. For many people, you will want to test on skin that is on your face, we advise against this.

2. Read the Instructions:

   Carefully read the instructions provided; ALL THE INSTRUCTIONS. It is unlikely but follow any specific recommendations for patch testing, such as the duration of the test and the amount of product to use. This is more common in hair products and hair removal creams.

3. Apply the Product:

   Take a small amount of the product and apply it to the designated test area. Gently massage or pat it onto the skin, ensuring even coverage. Rubbing in furiously is not required. Use as little as possible, whether it’s a cream or an oil or serum. For less viscous products like your toner, be sure to pat in.

4. Wait and Observe:

   Allow the product to sit on your skin for the recommended duration. If there isn’t one, we say between 24 to 48 hours should suffice. Resist the urge to stare at, poke or prod the test area.

5. Check for Reactions and Irritations:

   After the allotted time, carefully observe the test area for any signs of irritation, redness, itching, discoloration or other adverse reactions. Don’t panic if you spot a small reaction—remember, this is why we’re doing the patch test. However, if your arm starts resembling an avant-garde abstract painting, it’s time to reconsider using that product.

Considerations for Melanin-Rich Skin Tones:

1. Increased Sensitivity:

   Melanin-rich skin may exhibit heightened sensitivity to certain ingredients due to differences in skin structure and composition. Listen closely for any grumbles of discomfort during the patch test.

2. Darkening or Hyperpigmentation:

   Keep in mind that certain skincare ingredients at certain concentrations, particularly exfoliants or acids, may cause temporary darkening or hyperpigmentation in melanin-rich skin. Be sure to use the lowest concentrations when starting out. We do not want to worsen hyperpigmentation.

3. Consult a Professional:

   When in doubt, consult with a dermatologist or skincare professional who specializes in treating melanin-rich skin. We know there still aren’t enough of these around, but an online consultation might be in your reach.


Performing a patch test is an essential step in your skincare routine, especially when introducing new products, even with a known brand. It will help make informed decisions about which products are best suited for your unique skin needs. Prioritize the health and well-being of your skin, embrace its quirks, and enjoy your skincare journey to the fullest.

Remember, skincare is like a long-term relationship – the patch test is the first few text messages. 🤗

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