Browsing through the lash groups on Facebook I can guarantee there will be at least three posts a day about patch testing
"who here patch tests?"
"who patch tests on skin?"
"I was never taught to patch test, should I?"
"Patch testing - is it really worth it?"
So rather than trying to think of different ways to answer the question so I don't get bored of repeating myself, I thought maybe a quick blog might be better....although it turned into not so quick a blog.
Are you ready?
First of all the basics: How should we patch test? The best way to patch test is by using a small amount of the products in the way you intend to use them in treatment. So I apply around 5 or 6 short lashes in my smallest diameter (otherwise they will look crazy!) and then I apply a small amount of primer, debonder and sealant in sections along the lash line. We should never apply to the skin directly as the adhesive can act as an irritant and give a false result, so we scrapped that way around 5 years ago (although some training academies haven't caught up yet).
Now this is how I patch test and what I advise as the best way to do so, however you must find out how your supplier and insurance company require you to patch test as if you go against their advice it leaves you open to a void insurance policy.
Some insurance companies still advise to patch test on the skin...I would suggest looking at other companies if this is the case.
How often should I patch test?
Again this is up to your insurance company. Most say 3-6 months, but some say every single time, which seems crazy to me and I feel this risks over exposure to the products which is more likely to cause a sensitivity, so again, you may need to consider if this insurance company fits in with how you work.
What signs do clients need to look for?
Itching, swelling, hot or burning sensation, feeling like soap in the eye, cold or flu like symptoms, a rash anywhere on the body, basically anything that wasn't there before they came to you for patch testing. If a client has a symptom and you are really not sure if it's a reaction, I would wait until all signs have gone then re patch test with a slightly bigger volume of lashes and products to see if it appears again.
They didn't react! Yay!! So we are safe?
Not necessarily, a patch test doesn't always show up a positive result due to the small amount of product being used, however at the appointment when a larger volume is being used that may be enough to trigger a reaction! So it's important to warn your clients that a reaction could still occur, and can occur at any point in the lash journey, even after years.
My insurance and supplier don't require patch testing, so I don't need to bother?
Wrong. I would be very wary of any company that doesn't have something in the very fine print to protect themselves. For example, one insurance company replied to emails that patch testing is not a requirement, however in the small print it states to "follow manufacturers instructions" Companies will always cover their own backs, as should you.
Why else is patch testing useful to us?
I feel a patch test is so important to get to know our client. For instance, I tell clients to wear their normal everyday make up to the patch test, as one persons idea of natural or glam is very different to someone else's, so by seeing their usual make up we get an idea if they prefer no make up or if they don't feel comfortable without full face. When clients come for their full set they shouldn't have an ounce of eye make up on, so it's very difficult to truly know what they want if we leave it until then.
It gives clients chance to find you. Your address may be obvious with a huge neon sign, but people still get lost or run late. By coming to a patch test they get an idea of how long the journey will be and where they need to go.
It's an icebreaker!!
It's a bit strange to meet someone for the first time and tell them to get on your bed and lay silent for 2-3 hours. More so for them I should think! But in those 10 minutes it takes to patch test you can have a great chat, get to know them, find out if they are gym addicts, chefs, hay fever sufferers (who always put NONE next to the allergies box) things that may make us question their suitability for lashes or if they will need extra guidance. Perfect time to find out if they will turn up or if they will keep rearranging. I'd rather mess around with 15minutes than 2 hours. If someone cancels or changes their patch test time last minute I simply won't book them in (yes, I'm harsh) and make sure you take their booking fee at the patch test if they haven't already paid!!
Go through the consultation form with them!
That way if they have some weird disease we have never heard of we have time to investigate before the appointment rather than it being sprung on the day and us possibly having to turn our client away. I then get them to go through the form again on the day of their full appointment to check nothing's changed and this is when they sign.
So do I patch test for my clients well being?
Kinda, but actually I do it mainly for myself. Since I started patch testing my books have run so much smoother and I have a much better relationship with my clients. It's 15 minutes max. It's a slight inconvenience for them and us but oh it's so much more beneficial in the long run.
Why wouldn't you? Xx