Don’t take the risk, Always have a skin test

All salons require a 48 hour skin test before having any hair colour service. This is a legal requirement and any salon not performing skin tests could be prosecuted.


Why skin tests are important

Skin tests are done to make sure you don’t have any allergic reactions to the p-phenylenediamine also known as PPD. Most hair colours contain this ingredient even some organic hair colours as this is what gives the colour its depth.

What are you looking for?

There are many types of reactions to hair colour. A little bit of itching is normal as when the hair colour hits the air you feel it developing. However, more serious signs need to be watched; skin which has come into contact with PPD can become swollen, red, blistered and cracked. (This may hold similar signs to contact dermatitis.)  It can also cause you to have swelling; Nettle rash in areas not touched by PPD and can also make you feel generally unwell. These symptoms can takes hours even days to appear.

More severe allergic reactions can appear within minutes, these symptoms consists of

  • Swollen hands and feet. Eyes can swell to the point of closure
  • Swelling of the mouth and tongue. This can cause breathing difficulties.
  • Tummy pain and sickness


 How do we do it?

At least 48 hours before having a hair colour service you need to come into salon for us to perform the test. Don’t panic, this takes seconds but is worth it. We place a small amount of neat hair tint on the skin behind the ear, its then down to you to keep it on for the full 48 hours. The tint cannot get wet or be washed off during them 48 hours. Again a little bit of itching is completely normal, in some cases where you are run down or feeling unwell you may get more itching then you usually do.  But if you start to get any other symptoms at all during the duration of the test you must wipe off the hair tint and let the salon know.  Having the skin test with neat tint and without developer will not give you a server allergic reaction but does unfortunately mean you cannot have the hair colour service using that brand of hair colour. This doesn’t mean you’re allergic to all hair colours and may be worth having tests at different salons to see.


If you are colouring your hair at home you should still follow the skin testing rules before applying the colour. If you do have a reaction to a hair colour you may be able to relieve the symptoms yourself. Try washing your hair to remove any leftover dye on the scalp. Sulphate free shampoos are better for the scalp if you get sensitivity. You can also apply moisturizing cream to any affected areas. If the symptoms continue please contact your GP. Salon user should have new skin tests once a year to keep up with regulations.