You will need to be extra vigilant when clients request hair colour services once your salon or barbershop is up and running again after lockdown. 

This also applies to beauty salons offering services such as eyebrow and eyelash tinting. Find out more about health & safety in your beauty salon including allergy alert and skin sensitivity testing. 

Make sure you and your staff understand that extra allergy alert tests may need to be carried out before going ahead with appointments. Find out how to set up a simple allergy alert testing system.

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Allergy alert tests and the COVID vaccine 

We are not aware of any scientific evidence that supports any of the following rumours:  

  • A colour treatment or allergy alert test will have an effect on the COVID vaccine. 
  • The covid vaccine will have an effect on a colour treatment or allergy alert test. 
  • A set amount of time needs to pass between having a hair colour/allergy alert test and a vaccination. 
  • Clients are more likely to have an allergic reaction if they have had a covid vaccine.  

However, we know that despite the lack of scientific evidence, these rumours continue to circulate. 

Best practice 

  • Explain to your clients that there is no scientific evidence to support these rumours. 
  • Some manufacturers have provided specific covid-related guidance and this should always be followed. 
  • Some clients may be more nervous about having treatments or services close to the time of their vaccination, so they may wish to postpone their appointment.  
  • Clients who feel unwell after the vaccination should postpone their appointment until they are better. 
  • Always carry out allergy alert and industry tests following manufacturer’s instructions and protocols before a client’s first service following lockdown. 
  • Allergy alert tests must be carried out at least 48 hours before the client’s appointment for the service.  


This blog post covers: 

There are a range of patch test kits available.

Please check with your insurance provider to see if you are covered.

The NHBF Trade Directory includes details of the patch test kits that are approved by Coversure for use by policy holders. 

Make sure your staff and reception team know what to do

All your team including your reception staff should know what to do when someone books a hair colour. 

The usual rules will still apply: 

      • They must check that the client is over 16 and understand the allergy alert testing procedures for over-16s. 
      • New clients must have an allergy alert test at least 48 hours before their appointment. 
      • Returning clients will need an allergy alert test if, for example:

 - Your client has not had an allergy alert test for six months.

 - Your client has had a tattoo or black henna tattoo.

 - You have changed your colour brand or product.  This also applies if the client has been using home colour which contains PPD or similar during lockdown. 

In addition: 

It’s important to carry out a post-lockdown consultation with your client. Even if your client has had an allergy alert test in the past six months, they will need to have another one if they have been using any hair colour products at home during lockdown. 

Allergy testing

‘Black henna’ temporary tattoos 

You must ask your client if they have had a ‘black henna’ tattoo since their last allergy test or hair colour. If they have, you must carry out an allergy alert test before colouring their hair. 

This is because black henna often contains illegally high levels of the chemical PPD (paraphenylenediamine). People who have these temporary tattoos can become very sensitive to PPD in hair colour – even one that they have used safely many times before. 

The NHS warns about the dangers of black henna and describes how a woman died from a serious anaphylactic reaction when colouring her hair after having a black henna tattoo five years earlier. 

Prevent a no-show in the salon

Under-16s and hair colour 

You must not apply hair colour or highlights that contain PPD or similar ingredients to anyone under the age of 16 or carry out an allergy alert test on anyone under the age of 16. Hair colorants carry warnings that they are not intended for use on under-16s. Your insurance will not cover you if you go ahead. 

The NHBF consultation, allergy alert and industry tests toolkit 

The NHBF’s consultation, allergy alert and industry tests toolkits (free to NHBF Members, £4.50p&p) include everything you need to run an efficient and effective allergy alert testing system in your salon or barbershop. Allergy alert and sensitivity testing toolkits for beauty salons are also available. Find out more. 

Card machine

Don’t forget: your clients will need an allergy alert test before their hair colour appointment if they have been using any hair colour products at home during lockdown. 

The kits include client information sheets which explain why allergy tests are so important and why you are taking the issue seriously as a responsible and professional business.

They also make it easier to keep accurate records of allergy alert tests carried out on each client, including their consent to the storage of health-related information. This is vital under the strict GDPR data protection laws. NHBF Members can download our guide to GDPR. 

The NHBF’s allergy alert toolkit is backed by Coversure’s Salonsure policy which offers Members 20% off salon insurance. (If you use any other insurance provider, you must check you’re covered if you use the NHBF allergy alert toolkit.)


Barber lights

If your client has a reaction

If your client has a reaction to the allergy alert test do not colour their hair. Reactions include reddening, itching, swelling or a burning sensation. If this happens, your client will need to get medical advice. 

Even if the allergy alert test is OK, your client may still develop a reaction during the hair colouring process. You will need to stay vigilant and thoroughly rinse your client’s hair if you see an adverse reaction. 

Get immediate medical help if your client becomes dizzy, faint or finds it difficult to breathe. 

Can I do allergy alert tests before the official reopening date? 

Don’t be tempted to ‘get organised’ and do allergy alert tests before reopening. 

You must not carry out allergy alert tests in advance of the government’s set date for reopening salons and barbershops. You must wait to be officially open for business before doing allergy alert tests. 

More back to business blog posts 

Cashless payments and tips.

Make marketing work for you post-lockdown.

Work smarter, not harder, when you reopen.

The importance of good mental health in your salon or barbershop.

Annual leave: temporary changes due to coronavirus. 


    • You will need to be extra vigilant regarding allergy alert testing when you reopen after lockdown.
    • Make sure all your staff understand the need for allergy alert testing – especially after lockdown when clients may have been using hair colour products at home.
    • You must do allergy alert testing to protect your clients and avoid legal action.
    • The NHBF allergy alert testing toolkit contains all you need for your salon or barbershop.
    • The NHBF’s preferred supplier Coversure will cover your use of the toolkit (check if you have a different insurer).
    • You must ask if your client has had a black henna tattoo – if yes, always do an allergy alert test.
    • If your client has an adverse reaction to hair colour rinse it off immediately and get immediate medical help if the symptoms are serious.