The Truth About Patch Tests

I think it’s safe to say that we probably all feel the same about patch tests - They’re a bore!

Because with work, family, friends and endless to do lists, it’s difficult enough to find the time to get our hair done at all, let alone to make additional salon trips for patch tests in the days before - Especially when the majority of us have probably never had an allergic reaction in our lives.

I get it. I really do. We all want to look fabulous and to make that happen as quickly and efficiently as possible. Life is busy!

The most common allergen, paraphenylenediamine or PPD, is found in over 99% of permanent hair dyes. And from cases of rashes and hives, to hospitalisation and even fatalities (a poor 19 year old Parisian woman had a near-fatal reaction in only November last year), 5% of people suffer negative reactions of some kind to hair colour.

These reactions often occur when the sufferer least expects them – Did you know for example, that we can all develop new allergies at any stage of our lives? Moreover, hair colour formulations are tweaked constantly to modernise them and make them kinder to our hair, the downside being that a product that doesn't irritate you now, may - frustratingly - do so in the future. It’s inconvenient but true! Safety therefore, should be at the forefront of all our minds when colouring hair both at home and in salon.

You may or may not be aware that it has been a legal requirement for all hairdressers to carry out patch tests prior to colour services. Reputable salons will never guarantee your appointment until that test has been done.

So let’s face it, while patch tests are far from convenient, they are essential and continue to save lives worldwide on a daily basis. Perhaps, just perhaps, next time you are asked to book in for one, swap your irritation for reassurance that you are using a reputable salon that is fulfilling its legal requirements and puts your safety first.

Patch tests should be booked at least 48 hours before the colour appointment. A pea-sized quantity of the colour formula will be applied to the back of your ear or nape of your neck. If you subsequently experience a reaction of any kind, notify the salon immediately so that you can be advised on the correct procedure.