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STOP! It's time to PATCH TEST

Let’s talk patch testing!

With more reports of allergic reactions to hair dye on the rise since Covid-19, it is more important than ever to ensure we are protecting ourselves when it comes to tinting our hair, brows and lashes. Here is our guide to why, how and when patch testing is done.

Why do we patch test?

There are 2 main ingredients found in permanent hair dye which can cause sensitivity to a client. Sensitivity could lead to a possible reaction to the dye. These ingredients are PPD and PTD. Paraphenylenediamine and Paratoluenediamine. Some dyes will state that they do not contain PPD but if it is a permanent colour then it will contain PTD.

How is a patch test carried out?

All patch tests are carried out according to each individual brands manufacturers instructions. A consultation is carried out beforehand to establish the requirements from either the hair or beauty service to be provided. We will enquire whether there is any medical history or medication which may be of importance, and any history of previous reactions. The patch test itself doesn’t take long. A small dot of dye is applied either behind your ear or in the inner crease of your elbow. Sometimes more than 1 test is applied at a time. These should then be left for 48 hours to see if there will be any sensitivity to the dye. Advice will then be given on what to expect or do if there was a reaction. A reaction could display the following symptoms:

• Itching

• Burning or stinging

• Red

• Swollen

• Dry or cracked

• Thickened skin

If this happens, then the area should be washed immediately and an emollient cream can be applied to moisturise the skin (recommended by the NHS). If you are feeling unwell with it then we recommend seeking medical attention immediately to prevent anaphylaxis. Anaphylactic shock is a symptom of a severe allergic reaction. This is what can happen if we don’t patch test people. Patch testing doesn’t prevent a reaction to dye but it does reduce the probability of a reaction occurring.

When do we skin test?

All patch testing procedures must be carried out on the following:

• New clients

• If it’s been more than 6 months since last dye service

• If you have had a tattoo, henna or permanent makeup since last dye service

• If there is a change of brand or colouring product

• If there has been any changes to medication or medical history

It’s very easy to think that you will never react because you’ve died your hair, brows or lashes for years, however people can develop allergies at any point in their life. Brands sometimes reformulate their products and medications can also increase your risk of reactions. It has also been widely reported that some people have had reactions to dye after testing positive for Coronavirus, so it’s imperative that patch testing is done to prevent severe allergic reactions.

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