Allergy alert tests are vital to protect clients and to guard against potentially expensive legal action should something go wrong. The NHBF's consultation, allergy alert and industry tests toolkit is the updated version of our old 'allergy alert testing toolkit' and offers a simple and highly effective solution.  

The updated toolkit is now available to download.

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:

Why are allergy alert tests necessary?

Most people experience no problems when they have their hair coloured.  However, some people are allergic to hair dye, while others may develop an allergy gradually over time. It’s important to stay vigilant. You must also carry out an allergy alert test if your client has ever had a black henna tattoo (see more on this below).

Colourstart allergy alert tests now approved by Coversure  

Good news! Colourstart’s allergy alert testing system for client use at home is now backed by Coversure insurance policies.  

The aim is to reduce the delay and inconvenience caused by the need for allergy alert testing before colour treatments and to help salons and barbershops get back on their feet as quickly as possible.  

The NHBF worked closely with Coversure to have Colourstart approved for the benefit of our Members. If you are insured with a different provider, check if they will cover Colourstart.  

Contact Coversure for more details on 0800 458 8181 or nhbf@coversure.co.uk

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. Health and SafetyUnder-16s and hair colour

The NHBF consultation, allergy alert and industry tests toolkit

The NHBF consultation, allergy alert and industry tests toolkit is the updated version of our old ‘allergy alert testing toolkit’. .

The consultation and colour record cards make it fast and easy to decide if your client needs to have an allergy alert test.

The system will also flag up situations where your client should not be given an allergy alert test or have their hair coloured – for example, if they are under 16 or have previously had an allergic reaction to hair colour.

The NHBF’s consultation, allergy alert and industry tests toolkit is backed by Coversure’s Salonsure policy which offers Members 20% off salon insurance.

We strongly advise that you use the updated consultation, allergy alert and industry tests toolkit if you are a Salonsure policy holder, and have a renewal date date of 1 January 2021 onwards. For best practice, we would recommend that regardless of your renewal date you start using the new toolkit at the earliest opportunity.

(If you use any other insurance provider, you must check you’re covered if you use the NHBF toolkit.)

The new toolkits 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.

The new toolkits also make it easy 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.

The consultation, allergy alert and industry tests toolkit is free to NHBF Members (£4.50 p&p) and can be ordered online or by phone on 01234 831965.

Guide to GDPR

Download our detailed Members-only guide to GDPR and our GDPR toolkit which includes templates to help you comply with GDPR.

Not yet a Member? Join us now for less than 80p a day to access this user-friendly in-depth guide and make sure you are complying with GDPR.

Toolkit contents

The consultation, allergy alert and industry tests toolkit includes:

  • 1 x Guide to consultation, allergy alert and industry tests for hairdressing salons and barber shops
  • 2 x Allergy alert test posters
  • 5  x Client information sheets
  • 25 x Consultation, allergy alert and industry tests record cards
  • 25 x Client confidential information record form
  • 1 x Sample consultation, allergy alert and industry tests record card

Allergy alert and sensitivity testing toolkits for beauty salons are also available. Find out more.

Allergy alert record card

‘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).

PPD is used in hair dye, but the maximum levels are controlled by law in this country. Black henna often contains very high levels of PPD. This means that 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 individual may not realise this and that’s why it’s so important to carry out an allergy alert test before colouring your client’s hair if they have had a black henna tattoo at any time.

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.

Read our blog post about spotting the signs of skin cancer on your clients.

business payments

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 an  appointment as they may require a test, such as an allergy alert test before their appointment. They must check that the client is over 16 and understand the testing procedures. 

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.

We would recommend salons need to be particularly cautious following the lockdown as there has been a considerable amount of time since the last service. Your client may have used a home colouring product or treatment that you may not be aware of and the client may be more sensitive or nervous about having the colour service. Always follow and refer to manufacturer's instructions and protocols.  

You must keep a written record of every test for at least six years. Each written record must be signed by the client. 

Consultations: 

  • You must carry out a full consultation before starting any service or treatment that uses chemicals such as colour, bleach/lightener, perm, relaxer. The consultation must include an assessment of the condition of the hair and the scalp.
  • You must keep a written record of every consultation for at least six years. Each written record must be signed by the client. 

Bleaching and lightening services:  

  • Applicable recommended industry tests such as allergy alert, skin sensitivity, strand, incompatibility should be carried out before every service or treatment on both new and existing clients.
  • You must keep a written record of every test for at least six years. Each written record must be signed by the client. 

Staff qualifications: 

  • Staff members must hold the appropriate nationally recognised qualification for each service and or treatment they carry out. 
  •  Contact Coversure (or your insurer if not Coversure) if you have any staff providing services who are unqualified or have ‘time served’.

Backwash requirements: 

  • Front wash basins or a purpose-designed neck rest cushion or pad must be used when washing a client’s hair.

Find out more about health & safety in your salon or barbershop.

Health & Safety

Our health and safety toolkit contains everything you need to stay safe and legal in your hair salon or barbershop.

Available for £65 to Members (non-members, £99).

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.

Checklist

  • You must do allergy alert testing to protect your clients and avoid legal action.
  • The NHBF consultation, allergy alert and industry tests 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.
  • Make sure all your staff understand the allergy alert testing procedures.
  • If your client has an adverse reaction to hair colour rinse it off immediately and get immediate medical help if the symptoms are serious.

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Data protection laws got tougher when GDPR came into force in 2018. Your hair/beauty salon or barbershop must understand and comply with additional data protection laws as set out in GDPR. NHBF Members can download our free in-depth guide and templates. Find out more.