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Colour Safe Policy

As professional Colourists, we take the safety of our clients very seriously and operate a colour safe policy.

We will not be able to carry out a colouring service if:

  • You are under 16 years of age
  • You have previously had an allergic reaction to hair colouring products
  • You have previously had a reaction to any kind of skin tattoo (including henna) or permanent make-up
  • You have a sensitive, itchy, or damaged scalp

We must carry out a patch test 48 hours prior to any colouring service if:

  • You are a new colour client
  • You are a salon regular, but have gone longer than 6 weeks since your last colour service
  • You are a regular client, but it has been longer than 12 months since your last patch test
  • You have had any type of skin tattoo (including henna) or permanent make-up since your last colour service
  • You have had any kind of allergic reaction since your last colour service

It is a legal requirement that we perform a skin test prior to a colour application and complete all the relevant documentation. We have this obligation under Section 3 of the Health & Safety at Work Act. It is not us being awkward or trying to waste your time, this is THE LAW. Failure to follow the law can result in prosecution and fines for us and serious physical and emotional harm to our clients.

An allergic reaction to colours, although very rare, will result in symptoms such as itching, burning, inflammation, redness and blistering to the scalp. In extreme cases, it can also lead to scarring to the scalp, hair loss or even balding. The inflammation and itching etc can also travel to other parts of the upper body such as the eyes, ears face and chest.

PPD (paraphenylenediamine) is the ingredient in almost all colouring products from permanent to coloured shampoos, and although it is only present in extremely small quantities, it is usually this chemical compound which results in an allergic reaction.

As well as the external symptoms of an allergic reaction, it can also induce chronic respiratory complications such as anaphylaxis or toxic shock, which in very severe cases can lead to coma, permanent damage or even death. It’s not something to brush off as something trivial.

  • An allergy to hair colour, like any other allergy, can develop at any time, completely out of the blue.
  • It does not matter if you've never had a colour done before or you're a salon regular.
  • It makes no difference if you have used shop bought "box dyes" or always had your hair coloured professionally.
  • It does not matter if you are having a change of colour or just having your monthly root retouch.

An allergic reaction can happen at any time to anyone. The excuse of "I've always had my hair coloured and never had a problem" does not excuse the need for a skin test – if anything, it increases your need, as just like any other allergen, the more exposure to the product you have had, the more likely you are to develop an allergy.

And, just like any other allergen, certain situations and body changes have also shown to increase your risk of developing an allergy, such as times of stress, pregnancy, hormone imbalances or certain medication, and this isn’t just with hair colour, it’s with anything. This is how some people can wake up one morning and be allergic to nuts, develop hay fever or can’t use their favourite skin cream anymore because they have developed an allergy to one of the ingredients.

If you have ever had a henna tattoo, even if it was years ago (especially "Black" henna which is not only illegal but isn't actually henna), you might be at more risk of a reaction due to the high levels of PPD contained in the product. Many henna products used (especially abroad and at "seaside tents") contain far more than the legal maximum of PPD. This over exposure can lead to you developing an allergy overnight, even if no symptoms of a reaction are visible and prevent you from ever having a hair colour done for the rest of your life.

If you have ever had or recently had any henna tattoos or permanent make-up, we must skin test as your risk of a reaction may be greater, as you may have developed an allergy without realising it. If you have ever had a reaction to skin tattoos (including henna) or permanent make-up, your risk of a reaction is also greater, and we will not be able to carry out a colouring service.

Some salons will not insist on skin testing for an "Off Scalp" application such as highlights, with the theory that if the product is not touching the scalp, there’s no chance of a reaction. This is a myth and a completely unreliable method of safeguarding.

Firstly, no matter how qualified, competent and experienced your colourist may be, there is still always a risk that a foil may be knocked or pulled (whether that be by your colourist, the assistant when sitting you at the backwash or yourself accidentally knocking them while trying to put your glasses on or moving hair out of your face) and the product may "bleed" onto the scalp. Again, a risk not worth taking.

Also, it may sound obvious, but those foils still need to be rinsed and shampooed at the backwash, a process that will naturally see the product come into contact with your scalp, thus creating a risk of a reaction no matter what we do. No matter how “flushed” with water or how careful the removal of your foils is, the product WILL at some point, touch your scalp.

And finally, it is very rare these days that we will carry out a foil highlighting service without a toner, at the very least a Silver shampoo. Both products (even the shampoo) contain the same colour pigments which causes the reaction. Without a skin test, we would be unable to use either, therefore affecting the results we wish to achieve and preventing you from ever attaining the kind of blondes that are the most popular.

Albeit there is no official way to test if you will have an allergic reaction to hair lightener (Bleach), we can perform a sensitivity test where a small amount of the mixed lightener is applied behind your ear or in the inside corner of your elbow.

Everyone experiences different reactions to hair lightener, some sit through the entire service without so much as a tingle, others may find the lifting process unbearable with even the lowest strength developers. Although it is completely normal to experience some tingling, mild stinging and even a slight redness of the scalp during lightening, being in agony and a blistering scalp is not.

Unfortunately, although a sensitivity test may be able to give you an idea how comfortable you will be throughout the service, there is no sure fire way to predict in advance how you personally will react on the day, unlike a patch test for hair colour. As a rule, if you are suffering from an itchy or tight scalp, have any open cuts/abrasions on your scalp, or any skin disorder around the scalp, hairline or neck, we would strongly advise avoiding a bleach application.

Some salons use a product called "Colour Start" (we actually trialled them a few years back), a handy little skin test we could post out to clients before their colour appointment so they could skin test themselves at home.

In theory, this product was a great idea; it didn't involve a client calling into the salon 48 hours before their service and they were really easy to use, you just applied it like those little temporary tattoos you used to get in sweets.

However, the reason why we don't use them is that they are not worth the cellophane they are wrapped in. Our insurers, our manufacturers and the law clearly state that a skin test must be carried out using the products we intend to use during the service.

Although Colour Start patches contained PPD, it is not an actual colour and it is not used as part of a service. You could have no reaction to the Colour Start patch yet still have a reaction to the actual colour product, and as we have not followed our insurance policy, our manufacturers instruction or the law, we wouldn't have a leg to stand on in court.

Some salons will also ask clients who refuse to have a skin test to sign a disclaimer saying they refused and want to go ahead with the colouring service anyway, we even get clients asking to sign a disclaimer just so they won’t have to have one!

This is yet another myth, a disclaimer, no matter how well it is written, or how sure a client is about signing, it is not worth the bit of paper it is printed on. It does not stand up in court and means absolutely nothing.

From a legal perspective, it is us, the qualified professionals who understand the risks and potential harm of the product (basically saying “we should know better), a client does not (again this is from a legal point of view not ours!). By not carrying out a skin test, it is seen as professional negligence, we are breaking the law, voiding our insurance and going against our industry training and manufacturer’s instructions, no disclaimer is going to get around that, no matter whose signature is on the bit of paper.

A patch test takes minutes of your time. We have worked hard to ensure clients can call into the salon whenever is convenient and someone will be with them as soon as possible (and a patch test appointment can still be booked if a client is very strapped for time and wants to ensure a Stylist is ready when they arrive).