How to Do Your Own Skin Patch Test

Doing a patch test is a must when it comes to using essential oils and carrier oils. Here’s my reason why:

I must admit I was a terrible test-before-you-buy purchaser. I wasn’t good at testing-before-you-lather-all-over-your-face either.

That’s why my friends would always ask me why my face was so red all the time.

It hadn’t even occurred to me that my best-of-the-best, great-for-sensitive-skin moisturizer was causing me to be red. Without it, everything was peachy. With it, I was ruby red!

Eventually – as in years later – I figured it out.

From then on, DIY patch testing on my skin became part of my routine before buying or using a new product. The test helped me figure out what my skin was sensitive to (or not sensitive to).

The same applies to essential oils. All the experts will tell you patch testing is a MUST, even if you don’t have sensitive skin.

So safety first! I mean you don’t want to be red everywhere or have breakouts. Not to mention, if you accidentally scratch a few bumps. Eek!

Patch Test Guide

The steps for the patch test apply to all your new products. Creams, makeup, everything! But since this is all about essential oils, I’ll focus on carrier oils and essential oils only.

Carrier Oils Patch Test

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cotton bud (or cotton ball)
  • 1 drop of carrier oil

Step #1
Wash the area you’re going to test. The inside of your elbow or wrist is usually a good place. Some people also try behind the ear.

Step #2
Dip the cotton bud in the carrier oil and rub it in one spot (like a 1 inch area). The area or patch should be large enough for you to see any redness or irritation.

Step #3
Monitor the area for 12 to 24 hours. You shouldn’t really wash the area during the patch test unless you notice changes in your skin. You can cover the area with a bandage if you want.


  1. If there is no difference in your skin, you’re all good! And you can use the carrier oil freely.
  2. If you feel sick in any way – nauseous, dizzy, or have headaches – wash the area immediately. You could re-do the patch test the next day. If the symptoms persist, then you may be sensitive or allergic to the carrier oil.
  3. If you see any changes in your skin, wash the area immediately and avoid using the carrier oil. If your skin gets red, irritated, itchy, flaky, or painful or has bumps and rashes, then you may be sensitive or allergic to the carrier oil.

    If you have severe reactions like hives, contact dermatitis and Quincke’s edema, then contact your doctor.


Essential Oils Patch Test

What you’ll need:

  • 1 cotton bud
  • 1 teaspoon of carrier oil (that you’re not allergic to)
  • 1 drop of essential oil

Step #1
Like the patch test for carrier oils, wash the area you’re going to test.

Step #2
Add the drop of essential oil to the teaspoon of carrier oil. Mix well. This mix represents a 1% concentration.

Step #3
Just like before, dip the cotton bud in the mixture and rub it in one spot (like a 1 inch area).

Step #4
Monitor the area for 12 to 24 hours. And you shouldn’t wash the area during the test unless you see changes in your skin.

The patch test results for carrier oils also apply here.

While a 1% concentration is mild, you could consider repeating the patch test for stronger concentrations.

However, I don’t recommend going higher than 5% – that is 5 drops to 1 teaspoon of carrier oil.


More Patch Test Rules

  • Some essential oils have compounds in them that are phototoxic. That means if they are exposed to sunlight, they can react and burn or damage your skin. Grapefruit essential oil is phototoxic. And so too is bergapten, found in bergamot oil.

    If you are testing an essential oil that is known to be phototoxic, you should cover your patch area with a thick bandage and avoid direct sunlight.

  • Carrier and essential oils break down over time. So you can be sensitive or allergic to the broken down compounds in your older oils.


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