If you’ve ever had your hair professionally coloured at Beauty & The Bleach, you’ll already be accustomed to getting a patch test. If you’re looking into getting this kind of treatment for the very first time, it’s probably cropping up a lot in your research.
Patch tests are a requirement for any treatment wherein colour is directly applied to the scalp or skin; most frequently, they’re associated with hair dye although they’re required for other beauty treatments too, like eyebrow tints.
Patch tests are designed to test whether a client has an allergic reaction to the products used in professional hair colouring. They’re a crucial part of prioritising our clients’ safety, and in this blog, we’re going to explain exactly why that is.
Look, we get it; patch tests can be a bit of an inconvenience. We understand that it’s annoying for clients to fit coming in for a patch test into a busy day. But we - along with any other reputable salons - have a responsibility to ensure our customers’ safety.
First of all, a patch test is vital to protect you from an allergic reaction. Trust us, it won’t be pretty if you put product all over your scalp and then find out later that you have allergies. What’s more, allergies can change and even develop over time. That’s why you’ll have to do regular patch tests, even if you’ve had them done before. Yes, even if you’ve done them before at our salon.
Secondly, it’s a legal issue. We’re simply not insured to administer colour treatments without a patch test. Patch testing is a legal requirement. We can’t bend the rules even if we wanted to. Which we don’t, because allergic reactions to hair dye products can be lethal.
The reaction triggered by hair dye products can range from fairly moderate and mild to extremely dangerous and even life threatening. Some people experience scalp problems. Scabs and burns are a common, painful reaction, and can leave lasting facial scars. Like with any other form of allergic reaction, you could end up experiencing anaphylactic shock.
In some cases, reactions can lead to an inflammation of the head, eyes, face and throat, which can be life threatening if the client has trouble breathing.
Allergies aren’t just something you’re born with; they can change over time. It’s not uncommon for adults to develop allergies to things or substances that they previously didn’t have any issues with.
That’s why patch tests aren’t just performed once. Salons have a responsibility to regularly ask clients to do patch tests to make sure they haven’t developed allergies since their last appointment, particularly if their visits have been few and far between.
We require a patch test from all new clients, even if you’ve done one previously for the same treatment in another salon. For existing clients, patch tests must be done if it’s been more than six months since your last colour.
Certain medical conditions can actually cause allergies to develop, so we’ll also need you to do a patch test if you’ve had any change in your medical circumstances.
We’ll also require clients to take a patch test if they’ve recently tested positive for Covid-19, or if they’ve recently had a Covid vaccine.
Covid is well known for doing a number on our immune systems, but this could actually mean that clients react differently to colour products. A number of salons and stylists have experienced clients who previously didn’t react to colour having allergic reactions, even if they’re within the six month window that has previously applied to patch tests.
Although it’s not an official regulation - there’s not really enough data - it’s better to be on the safe side. Same goes for the vaccine, although you’ll need to wait seven days after receiving the vaccine to take a patch test in case it influences the results.
For such a significant thing, patch tests are quick, simple and easy. We’ll ask you to come in the salon at least 48 hours prior to your appointment. We’ll dab a small amount of the dye solution we use, likely behind the ear. If you begin to feel unwell or have any type of reaction to the patch test, you must let us know as soon as possible and you definitely can’t go ahead with the appointment.
Patch tests might be a bit inconvenient, but they’re extremely important. Please don’t arrange a colour hair or beauty treatment with any salon or mobile stylist who doesn’t insist on a patch test. Not only are they breaking the law, but they’re risking your health and safety and shouldn’t be fit to practice.
Similarly, please don’t ask us to make an exception and bend the rules for you. We get this constantly, and the answer is always no. Your health and safety comes first.