Is Patch Testing Necessary? Why You Should Always Do a Microblading Patch Test

By Emily M.| Last updated on May 19, 2022
Why You Should Always Do a Microblading Patch Test
⏱️ 5 min read

Just like any beauty treatment, microblading uses a range of products; specifically, pigments, numbing creams, and aftercare. So, just like any beauty treatment, it entails the risk of an allergic reaction.

Although rare, allergic reactions can happen with microblading, and since the treatment involves the breaking of the skin and products getting under its surface, the reaction can be much more severe than with topical application.

So performing a microblading patch test is done as part of the preparations for the procedure.

However, not all artists do them. We’re looking into both practices and explaining the importance of patch testing.

What Are Patch Tests?

Patch testing is a common practice in the beauty industry, and it’s obligatory in many jurisdictions. Before any treatment that could potentially cause an allergic reaction, a patch test with all products that are used should be performed prior to the treatment.

A patch test basically means the client comes in some time before their appointment (usually 48 hours), and tiny amounts of products are applied onto their skin. If the skin shows any type of reaction, that product needs to be excluded from the treatment or an alternative needs to be found.

microblading patch tests

When Should a Microblading Patch Test Be Done?

The best practice is at least 48 hours before the appointment. This leaves enough time for the potential reaction to show.

It should be done during consultations, so this means you should do in-person consults whenever possible.

How Is a Microblading Patch Test Done?

First, let’s list the products used for a microblading treatment:

  • Numbing cream
  • Pigments
  • Aftercare products

Since microblading implies both topical and intradermal application of products, each product needs to be tested the way it will be used as part of the procedure for the most accurate results. So, a microblading patch test should actually be like a mini-treatment:

1. Pick spots for patch test microblading.

You will need 3 spots, one for each product.

They should be hidden, so if any reaction shows, it won’t be visible. So don’t do it on the brows! Popular spots are inside the elbow crease, or in the hairline behind the ear – behind the ear is better, since the elbow crease is rubbed against clothing and that could cause irritation unrelated to the products tested.

2. Apply the numbing cream.

Dab a drop of whatever you will use for numbing on a chosen spot.

3. Do a few test strokes with pigments.

During the procedure, pigments will be implemented into the skin. So there’s no point in testing pigments only topically. You need to do a so-called scratch test.

Plus, broken skin can react much more severely to products than unbroken skin. You need to test the pigments the way they’ll be used.

So, do a few strokes to get the most accurate and reliable results, and use a blade, not some other tool. Obviously, the blades are disposable and you will have to dispose of the blade you used for the patch test, so most artists use cheaper blades than they do for the actual procedure.

Some artists use medical lancets since they’re cheaper, but if you use a blade, you get to test the metals in it – some people are allergic to certain metals.

Scratch test - stroke test with pigments before microbladingImage source: Instagram screenshot @ljiljanaphibrows

4. Apply the aftercare cream.

Aftercare is actually the most common cause of post-microblading allergic reactions.

Different formulas contain different ingredients. Oils are very common in PMU aftercare, and many people are allergic to various types of plant oils (especially coconut oil), so aftercare should definitely be tested.

Apply a small drop of aftercare cream onto a designated spot.

5. Instruct the client on what to do next.

The products applied need to sit on the skin for at least 20 minutes to give accurate results. Usually, the client won’t spend this much time at your salon, so warn them not to wash off the products until 20 minutes pass.

You should give them a tiny amount of aftercare to apply onto the strokes after a while, both to protect the cuts, but also to test the use of aftercare on broken skin.

You also need to warn them to be careful about the strokes – the broken skin can get irritated or infected, so they should avoid harsh products getting in contact with them.

Instruct them to contact you if they notice any reactions to the microblading patch test, and send you pics so that you can decide whether to go ahead with the treatment or not.

What Do Reactions to a Microblading Patch Test Look Like?

Allergic reactions to the products are manifested through:

  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Rashes
  • Blisters
  • Swelling
  • Burning
  • Stinging

If your client experiences any of the above, you either need to find an alternative product and repeat the patch test with that, or cancel the treatment altogether.

What Do Reactions to a Microblading Patch Test Look Like?Image source: Instagram @medicalsisters8

Is Doing a Microblading Patch Test Obligatory?

First off, performing the microblading patch test is the most ethical way to go about the treatment. You have the moral obligation to keep your client safe and performing the patch/scratch test is something that is definitely within your power in terms of preventing side effects. Why risk putting your client through an allergic reaction on a much bigger scale after the actual procedure when you can test the products beforehand?

Then, most insurance companies require you to perform the microblading patch test on every client. If you don’t and something goes wrong, you’re liable for a lawsuit and insurance won’t cover anything. Of course, this can vary depending on your judicial area. For example, patch testing is mandatory in the UK and Canadian insurers require it, but to get information about your particular location, contact the health authority in charge, or insurance providers.

Why Do Some Artists Skip the Patch Test?

Some artists claim that allergic reactions to microblading are so rare there’s no need for patch testing unless the client has a history of allergic reactions to cosmetic procedures.

They also claim that, since PMU artists are not medical professionals, they can’t diagnose an allergic reaction, so there’s no point in patch testing. But while you may not be able to give a diagnosis, you can recognize if something’s wrong and advise the client to seek medical attention, so this argument doesn’t hold up.

PMUHub warns you that this practice can be problematic and could put your client in danger. Better safe than sorry, we say!

Is There Any Way Around the Patch Test?

In some judicial areas, it’s acceptable to skip the patch test if the client signs a waiver form which states that they’re aware of the possibility of an allergic reaction and they’re consciously refusing one, releasing you from responsibility if any reaction occurs.

Check with your insurer whether this practice is viable.

Final Word

To wrap things up, we’d like to repeat how important patch testing is. Intradermal application of products can cause a much more severe allergic reaction than topical application. Your client could develop serious histamine reactions which may require treatment, and will definitely cause discomfort, frustration, and potentially bad reviews. So always patch test!

Cover image source: Freepik



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