Why it's important to patch test for sensitive skin

Getting to know your skin is the first step on your skin journey and if you're anything like me, you'll quickly realise that while you might think you're thick skinned - you're actually quite sensitive. 

When purchasing and trying any new product it's important to patch test and this is especially true for exfoliating products containing lactic and salicylic acids. When first introducing the Botanical Face Scrub into my routine, I applied the scrub in circular motions to my whole face. Focusing on areas I know I usually have congestion, such as the sides of my nose, laugh lines, and chin. While focusing on these areas the remainder of the scrub simply sat on my face for approx.. 90 seconds before I washed it all off with lukewarm water and patted it dry with a microfiber towel. Once the product was removed from my skin, my cheeks and nose were flushed pink bordering red. I applied my Botanical Eye Cream and Botanical Hydrating Moisturiser, grabbed my asthma puffer and started googling if any of the ingredients were somehow related to oranges (I'll explain that soon). Did I overreact, slightly, did I learn more about my skin, how often I should use these types of products, and the difference between skin irritation and skin allergies - YES!

Learning how to recognise the difference between a skin irritant and a skin allergy was an interesting and painful process for me. 

Reactions caused by skin irritants are due to an ingredient irritating the skin and the symptoms are limited to the area the product was applied. Skin allergies are far more severe and cause your immune system to react. Your body will release proteins to help fight it and the reaction often spreads to other areas of your body. I've had personal experience with a skin allergy after unknowingly applying a face mask that contained my arch nemesis - oranges. Within 4 minutes of the mask being on, my face felt like it was on fire. I was beetroot red, I was watching welts erupt across my cheekbones and the rash was starting to spread down my neck and my arms, even my asthma was starting to play up. Comparing these two experiences, my skin was irritated by one product and allergic to the other. 

But it isn't just the ingredients on their own that can cause irritation. How hard you scrub can also play a role - if you scrub too hard you may cause micro-tears to your skin. The combination of a micro-tear and using a product containing lactic and salicylic acids could cause an unpleasant burning sensation.   

So how do you deal with reactions? Provided they aren't an allergic reaction like old mate oranges and I, there are a few things you can do to build up tolerance if you have a minor reaction. 

Start small: the first time I used the Botanical Face Scrub I left it on for approx.. 90 seconds. The second time, I only applied it to the areas I'm usually congested and lightly massaged it in for 20 - 30 seconds before washing it off. I then applied it to the rest of my face, leaving it for 40 seconds and washing it off, again with lukewarm water. Following this routine, I didn't experience any pink or redness. 

-  Go slow: while it's recommended to use 2 - 3 times a week, you may find that is too much stress for your skin. Introducing it once a week, not only gives you time to adjust to your new routine but also lets your skin get use to the product before you try and increase it to twice a week. 

Only use it in problem areas: focus on the areas that need attention, especially if you're finding other sections of your face are too sensitive. 

No matter what, the most important part of the process is listening to your skin and ensuring it feels right.  

Reference: Very Well Health: Are you allergic to your skincare products? https://www.verywellhealth.com/allergic-to-skin-care-products-4121121#toc-allergy-vs-irritation