Eyelash Extension Patch Test: Everything You Should Know

As a lash technician, patch testing is something you ought to be well versed in. If you’re feeling a little rusty and need some guidance on why, when and how you should carry out a patch test on your clients, read on! We’ve got you covered. 

What is a patch test?

A patch test is a way of checking whether your client is allergic to the products you intend to use during their desired beauty treatment. By using a small amount of product in a specific area, you can detect whether your client has had a reaction. 

How to do a patch test

In a hair salon, a new client who has booked to have their hair coloured will typically be required to have a patch test first, which involves the hairdresser applying a small amount of hair dye to the client’s skin. This way, the hairdresser can see whether the paraphenylenediamine in the hair dye has caused any sort of reaction on the skin after a specific period of time has passed. 

When it comes to an eyelash extension patch test, lash technicians are actually testing the lash adhesive as opposed to the individual lashes themselves. It is usually thecyanoacrylate in lash adhesive that can cause problems, irritating some clients’ eyes or even causing an allergic reaction. 

Carrying out a patch test for lash glue can be more complicated than patch testing hair dye. It’s not simply a case of applying some lash adhesive to the client’s skin, since you should never apply adhesive to the skin ascyanoacrylate is a known irritant. 

eyelash extension patch test

One of the most effective patch testing methods for eyelash extensions is to apply single eyelash extensions to up to 10 lashes to each of your client’s eyes. You should also use any other products you may typically use during the lash application process - including pretreatment products such as primer

The patch test should be carried out 24-48 hours prior to the treatment. Remember, you only need to carry out a patch test on new clients, so while it might seem like a lot of effort, you shouldn’t need to repeat it on the same client again (unless you completely change your products).  

How long does a patch test take?

The test itself shouldn’t take any longer than 30-45 minutes - we’d recommend that you carry out a consultation before starting the patch test process. As previously mentioned, this includes preparing your client’s natural lashes as you typically would before treatment and then applying lashes through their lash line - don't worry, this won't look strange, use very fine extensions which are of a similar length to your client's natural lashes so they won't even be seen! 

This way, you can determine how your client responds to the products you intend to use. 

What happens after the patch test?

Something crucial to note is that patch tests cannot be considered 100% accurate - unfortunately, they may not always provide a conclusive answer.

However, if your client does not show signs of sensitivity to any of the products you have used, you are free to go ahead with the eyelash extensions application. In cases where your client has had a reaction to the products, you should be available to remove the lashes safely and effectively, particularly making sure to remove all traces of the lash glue as this is the most likely culprit. 

Most importantly, if your client has had an extreme reaction to the products, you must encourage them to seek medical advice. 

We have a detailed blog post on allergic reactions which may help you. 

Do you need a patch test every time?

New clients might be curious as to how often they need to have patch tests. Let’s be honest, they can be considered quite an inconvenience!

Thankfully, you can reassure your clients that you should only have to carry out an eyelash extension patch test before they have their first lash extension appointment with you! Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that they won’t develop a reaction to the products further down the line, but as long as you carry out a patch test before their first treatment, you’re taking the necessary precautions! 

Of course, you should also check your insurer’s guidelines to ensure you are covered. Some insurers may not even require you to carry out a lash adhesive patch test in the first instance, however many will.

If it's not accurate, do you need to patch test at all?

It's always a good idea to check with your insurance provider whether they require you to patch test or not, but generally speaking, gone are the days where an insurance provider will require you to carry out patch tests, as they now refer you to your supplier. 

When it comes down to it, patch testing is essentially down to the discretion of each individual business owner - if you don't enforce patch tests, the most important thing that you can do is to make your client aware of any and all risks associated with eyelash extensions, and offer them a test so that they can make an informed decision. If you do this, it's well worth having them not this on their consultation card, just in case!