ALTHOUGH COLOURANT ALLERGIES ARE UNCOMMON, THEY CAN BE VERY SERIOUS AND APPEAR RANDOMLY AT ANY AGE. FIND OUT WHAT A SKIN TEST IS AND WHY YOU SHOULD ALWAYS TAKE THE TIME TO TEST!
FACT: Hair colourants contain lots of chemicals and any of them can cause a reaction. Every brand is different and as your body is constantly changing even brands that you have used in the past can trigger one. All reputable salons will ask for a skin test before they provide a colour service.
MYTH: “I have coloured my hair for years and haven’t had an allergic reaction in the past so I will be fine”.
FACT: 1 in every 250,000 people have an allergy to hair dye according to Debra Jaliman, MD, a New York City-based dermatologist.
WHAT IS A SKIN TEST? A skin test identifies if you have an allergy to specific hair dyes. Stylist can safely apply colour to your hair without causing a reaction.
HOW CAN I GET ONE? All you need to do is head to the salon 48 hours prior to your appointment, answer a couple questions about allergies and skin conditions and sign a skin test card.
WHAT DO YOU DO? A small amount of colour is placed behind the ear or inner elbow and must be left for 24 hours.
If you start to notice any rash-like symptoms (itching, swelling, discolouration and inflammation) then rinse thoroughly with warm water and inform the salon.
HOW OFTEN WILL I NEED ONE? It is essential that you have one every 6 months or every time you try a different brand of colour.
WHAT CAUSES A REACTION? Some people are prone to a skin reaction called contact dermatitis. This means their skin becomes inflamed when they come into contact with a particular substance. Severe allergies can result in blistering, hives and sometimes difficulty breathing.
Paraphenylenediamine (PPD) is a chemical that works to protect the colour from fading, however it is a known irritant and allergen.
Both permanent and semi-permanent, box dyes and professional dyes can contain the chemical.
If you are concerned that you may be experiencing about any symptoms mentioned always consult with your doctor immediately.
You can also find out more information on allergic reactions on the NHS website.