Patch Testing

Is It Necessary?

Gone are the days when you could just walk into a salon and get your roots quickly done. Now our clients have to pre book and have a consultation and patch test.

Although the above is essential to decipher whether anyone has any intolerances to the PPD’s and PPT’s in the actual colours. It can be extremely inconvenient to firstly the client and secondly to you (especially if you’re free at that time).

Let’s be honest how many salons actually patch test their clientele?

Who’s to say that the client won’t go to a salon that doesn’t insist on patch testing and get her hair done there instead?

Let’s first look at what PPD’s are,

P Paraphenylenediamine is present in almost all oxidative hair colours, it is an ingredient in permanent hair dyes and is more present in darker colours. They have to be present to allow colour to be more permanent in the hair.

PPT’s have now replaced PPD’s in many brands colours, which are less permanent or do not include ammonia.

With the science bit out of the way, the question is do we really need to patch test every individual?

We have worked in the industry for over 30 years and although patch testing has always been around, the pressure to do it now is so extreme that most of us include it into our services.

Who remembers the days of no patch testing?

The statistics state that In Europe over 98% of people do not have the potential to react to these chemicals, in fact out of those who have a potential to react (under 1.5%) only 0.1% of the population will have an allergic reaction after colour use.

So, is it important?

As you may know by now (because we like to shout about it) we are brand neutral, which we think is a great thing when it comes to educating and coaching. It means that we can have knowledge at our fingertips and then share that knowledge with any salon using any brand. You could say we are multi coloured when it comes to the best bits of each brand.

The only problem we are facing is that if we do recommend a product that could solve some problems happening in the salon and it is not from that said brand another patch test is needed. That is because each brand insists on patch testing with their own product, which of course makes great sense, unless you are wanting to use a different brand to, say, tone the hair after a colour service.

We believe this is where the patch testing phenomenon came from, Brands.

We’d like to share something with you, (some of you may know already):

There is a test out there called Colourstart it is a temporary tattoo style patch test and tests for PPD’s and PPT’s all at once. It is something we use when testing our models/clients, as we like to use multi brands. We use this patch test because there is a safety element to the measured amount of PPD’s. Each Tattoo like test contains 65 micrograms, meaning that every patch test we do is equal. No adding too much product when testing or too little (a 50ml tube contains up to 1g of PPD).

So if you go back to the statistics are we covering all bases? Unfortunately not, again Colourstart is not seen by the main brands as a viable way to test, insisting that you use a ‘blob’ of their colour .

Is there any hope for salons wanting to be more multi coloured, as we are?

There is of course a way round this, consult your insurance and make sure you are covered, change the wording slightly, so you can be covered for using alternative products alongside your main brand. That even goes when using products such as Olaplex and Innoluxe, as they will not be seen as compatible with your main brand.

We will always say yes to patch testing, even if there is only 0.1% of the population that could get an allergic reaction, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. 

Although we believe the restrictions are too tight at present.

We do know that The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is looking into this whole phenomenon at present and the government are looking to make the Colourstart patch test available without prescription soon.


Sarah Spiers