Colour Allergy Testing

HaircareSeptember 19th, 2023
Charlie Miller, Styling since 1965

While allergic reactions to hair colouring are rare, it can happen, so an annual Allergy Alert Test is the only way to know if it’s safe for us to use the product on your hair.

Skin Allergy Tests help prevent the occurrence of allergic reactions to hair colour applications. We follow the guidelines from L’Oreal Professional (our manufacturers) whether you are a new or existing client. Symptoms of an allergic reaction to hair colour can include itching, hot or burning scalp, blood poisoning or at its most extreme, anaphylaxis.

To ensure that we are giving you the highest levels of customer care, we insist on Skin Allergy Tests for your comfort and protection.

Without one, we will not be able to colour your hair!

A patch test for colour has long been a requirement in the beauty industry. Previously we’d always used the AAT method (where we apply a small dot of colour just behind the ear. We then ask that you leave it on for 48 hours). 

However, we can now no longer patch test behind the ear! This makes it trickier for you to monitor for a reaction. Instead, we now apply the pre-mixed formula to your arm. If you wish, you can leave the salon with this on, as long as your arm remains uncovered for you to keep an eye on (not always a suitable option even in a Scottish summer month!). You’re then able to remove the colour after 45 minutes. If you have not had a reaction, you are good to go. 

Colourstart, however, is our preferred allergy testing option; have you heard of it?

Testing for colour allergy at home is a relatively new concept, and you may not be aware of what Colourstart actually is!

We think its a real timesaver, cutting out the hassle of an in-salon patch test. Let us tell you about its benefits.
Applying colour

First, a bit of background…

We introduced Colourstart as a patch-testing option in 2021. So far, hundreds of our clients have taken advantage of this time-saving addition to our health and safety measures. 

We use the highest quality products in all our salons. So, it makes perfect sense to use the highest-quality product on the market to screen our clients for allergy. 

As the only clinically proven screening test for hair colour allergy (PPD) in the UK market, Colourstart is a genuinely high-quality product to screen our clients for allergy. 

Colourstart is classed as a medicine and regulated by the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency). They’re responsible for ensuring that medicines and medical devices work and are acceptably safe. Due to Colourstart being classed as a medicine, the industry isn’t allowed to give these out for free. They must be sold at a recommended retail price of £15. You can read more about it here and on the Government website here.

Now, let’s get serious.

Reactions to PPD can range from mild irritation in the scalp (this might be itchy rashes, redness or blisters) to an allergic reaction that can potentially trigger serious symptoms throughout the body. The latter is extremely rare, but it is possible. 

We’re often asked if we have a waiver for our clients to sign, or if we can just bypass the patch test, and in all cases, we have to a say a resounding “no”.Colour swatches professional products

We get it, sometimes you just want your colour done. Whether it’s on a whim, for a last-minute holiday, or you’ve got an event and you’ve just lost track of time. We truly hate to disappoint anyone… but your safety is far more important to us. 

Hair dyes containing PPD are perfectly safe to use if safety instructions are followed. These products are strictly regulated and there’s a maximum limit to the amount of PPD the product can contain. 

If you, or indeed your hairdresser, ignore the safety instructions that come with the dye, which includes the patch testing procedure, you could be at risk of a serious reaction. 

According to NHS UK, “You’re particularly at risk if you have (or have previously had) a black henna tattoo. These temporary tattoos should be avoided because the paste often contains high levels of PPD, which can increase the risk of an allergic reaction the next time you’re exposed to it. So, you could even develop a life-threatening allergic reaction when you next use PPD hair dye.” 

Colourstart Benefits: 

Professional colours require allergy tests.Unleash your creativity – any colour, any time. 

Some of us like to decide on the day of our appointment exactly what shade we’ll choose. 

Sometimes, you can’t quite put your finger on what tone of blonde to go for, and that’s absolutely fine. We’re here to guide you through what suits best. But here’s where it can get complicated, not to mention disappointing. If we opt for a shade that isn’t of the same sub-brand as the one you were patch tested with, either we can’t use that colour, or we’ll have to patch test you with that and reschedule your colour appointment. Obviously, neither of those are ideal! We use L’Oréal colourants across all our salons, but within the L’Oreal brand there are many different sub-brands of colour. We tend to use Dia Richesse, Dia Light, INOA or Majirel. While they’re all sisters, they’re all different.  

This is where Colourstart comes in. It covers you whether you decide to drastically change your colour, or are gradually changing it appointment by appointment.  

Similarly, you and your colourist might feel that your highlights or balayage might benefit from the use of a few different colour types. Without Colourstart, you’d now have to be patch tested for all those different brands, but opt for the one-off payment for Colourstart, and you’re free to choose any colour combination you (and your stylist) desire. 

Colourstart saves time – you can test at home, with no need to come into the salon. 

We know every time we ask you to come into the salon for a patch test it is at least a little bit annoying, no matter how necessary it is. With Colourstart there’s no need for any more pre-appointment visits. You apply the patch test at home and log your own results using the Colourstart Digital Passport app.   

Yes, the testing kit is £15, but train fares or city centre parking soon add up, and if you need to come into the salon multiple times, Colourstart is a no-brainer.  

Peace of mind

Colourstart is fully covered by insurance, regulated & clinically proven.

It’s the only clinically proven screening test for hair colour allergy (PPD) in the UK. Because it’s a one-off application*, you’re less likely to develop an allergy due to “active sensitisation” (basically, the opposite of a tolerance to it). Sensitisation to active substances is defined as an increased effect from the substance following repeated doses. It also comes with its own product liability insurance. 

Simple to use and mess free

The Colourstart Patch Test is as easy to use as plaster. No more colour applied directly to your skin with the potential of getting it on your clothes or hair. There’s no chance of Colourstart ruining your favourite top! 

You’re not just covered in Charlie Miller salons 

There are many salons now using Colourstart. For example, if you visit another salon while you’re in London and they are a Colourstart salon, you don’t have to go through the rigmarole of getting tested again!  

How does it work? 

If you pass any of our salons, pop in and purchase one there. You can also call any of our salons to arrange for one to be posted out. 

You will be prompted to download the Colourstart Client Passport, which is an app used to record your Colourstart test results at home and,  you must then share your results with your preferred salon. 

Simply upload a photo when the patch is applied, and again after 96 hours (the patch is removed after 48 hours), then record whether there has been a reaction. 

No reaction means a green ‘OK to colour hair’ digital passport. 

Any participating Colourstart hair professional will accept a green passport, making walk-in colour a reality for the first time. 

You can renew your passport any time by retaking the screening questions. Providing your answers don’t change and your health remains the same, the passport stays green and you’re free to colour again and again.  

Got more questions about the benefits of Colourstart allergy testing?

Your stylist, or our reception team, are more than happy to talk you through it! 

Pick up your Colourstart pack from any of our salons.

Find out more about the benefits of Colourstart allergy testing here.

*Subject to the correct use and negative reaction to Colourstart® Patch Test as per the Patient Information leaflet, and an ‘OK to colour hair’ status in any participating Salon’s Colourstart® Professional Passport, Colourstart® need not be repeated. There are exceptions including black henna, live dermatitis etc, please read the Patient Information leaflet carefully. 

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