Friday, 22 June 2012

Home Hair Dyes - Do you perform a patch test?

Today's post is a little different to what I would usually blog about, but a recent wake-up call concerning home hair-dye kits has got me thinking. Last week, a work friend rang in sick, saying she had suffered an allergic reaction to the dye she had used to colour her hair. When she came to hand in her doctor's note, we all saw that her forehead and ears had swollen up to twice their usual size. She also said she was having trouble breathing due to the fact her tongue had swollen, and clumps of her chest-length hair had begun falling out. My friend, who is usually brimming with confidence and always smiling, was in floods of tears, saying the dye had left her in agony and she didn't want to leave the house. Despite admitting to not carrying out a skin test beforehand, she had dyed her hair countless times in the past and had never experienced any problems. 

My colleges and I were absolutely devastated for her, and to be honest, her experience scared me out of my wits. I have been using home-dye kits from various brands ever since I was fourteen, and have only ever performed a patch test once or twice. Despite reading about horrific allergic reactions in magazines, when dying my hair myself, I've always carelessly thought: 'I've used dye so many times in the past and I know I'm not allergic. I'll be fine, those cases are rare anyway.' The most I've ever experienced is a little discomfort or an itchy scalp whilst waiting for my colour to develop, but apart from that, I've never given the possibility of a reaction much concern. 

After seeing my friend, I researched severe reactions to hair dye on Google, and some of the stories I came across were genuinely horrifying. A chemical called Paraphenylenediamine (PPD) , found in permanent, generally darker dye (the darker the dye the more PPD it will contain), is usually the cause of a nasty reaction. In the stories I read, allergic reactions have ranged from facial swelling and temporary blindness, to more tragic, fatal cases. All sufferers had used home dye kits from brands such as L'Oreal, Garnier and Clairol - all trusted names my friends and I have regularly relied on over the years. 

All kits will advise you to perform a patch test 48 hours prior to colouring your hair, even if you have used that particular brand/colour before. I haven't used a DIY dye kit for almost a year now as I wasn't able to achieve the colour I wanted by myself anymore, so for the past 9 months or so, I've been flitting inbetween salons. Despite my latest hairdresser performing a skin test on me a week before my appointment, the majority of respected salons I've visited in the past have never offered me one. (While booking a colour at one hairdressers, the stylist even said to me 'You've had colour on your hair before, right? You won't need a skin test then.') Even in the hands of a professional, we're still at risk of an allergic reaction.  

Luckily my friend's swelling went down almost as quickly as it came about and she's fine now, but her experience has definitely provided me with the wake up call I needed. From now on, every time I have my hair coloured, I will make sure I have carried out a skin test beforehand. Even if you use the same brand/product, or visit the same stylist, manufacturers can often slightly change the ingredients which can result in a reaction. It might be a bit of a hassle making sure you've performed a patch test 48 hours prior to your colour, but it's better to be safe than sorry - nothing's worth risking your health! 

Have you ever had a bad experience with hair dye before? 

11 comments:

  1. Thats terrible. I use to use home hair colours as they are so much cheaper, however when I did eventually go back to my hairdresser she said that my hair was in such bad condition it was so dried out from all the colourants. It also made my hair an odd colour as I have been light, brown and also red so can imagine the mixture of colours in my hair! I'd never do home hair colouring again, I would much rather pay to have it done professionally.

    P.S I never did a patch test and I'm sure that not many people ever think to do one!

    www.britishcouture.blogspot.co.uk

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  2. Aww that's awful, I feel so sorry for your friend! xx

    jensbrightandbeautiful.blogspot.com

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  3. This was such a good post and something that was really interesting to read.. I'm so funny about putting dye on my hair and often wash it off early because i start imagining my head is burning and whatnot.. ive only ever done one patch test - ive just bought a blonde kit for my holiday which ive used countless times but im going to do a patch test now just to be sure. Youre right though - even when i went to salons they never did tests on me..
    xx

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  4. I've never done a patch test at home (I will do now though!) but salons have always insisted on them being done, I've found. I'm glad your friend is fine now! xxx

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  5. Oh my god this is a bit scary! I was of the same opinion as you and thought I didn't need to do patch tests because I've been dying my hair for so long and have never had a problem. I've also had it done at salons several times and they've never asked me to do a patch test. I think this is what made me think I didn't need to, if professionals don't even need to then why do I?! So, thanks for letting me know why. I will be more careful in future :) xx

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  6. never ever- and i've never done a patch test either however i tend to stick the same line of dye

    x Jordan
    - Boho Vanity -

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  7. That's horrible! My Mum is a hairdresser and they always do patch tests for new clients/when they change brand but she's never done one on me strangely enough.
    xx

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  8. I recently had my hair dyed at a salon and specifically chose one that didn't do a patch test so I could get it done quicker (I tend to get an impulse to have my hair done and then have to act on it). Now I realise how lucky I was! I will definitely be patch testing in future.

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    1. I was exactly the same! At the last salon I had my hair coloured, I went for a consultation and tried to book my appointment for the following day as it was my only day off that week. However, they told me I wouldn't be able to book an appointment for then as they needed to do a skin test at my consultation and wait 48 hours for a possible reaction. I was so frustrated at the time as it meant I had to wait another week for another day off to have my hair coloured, but now I realise how silly I was to be annoyed! x

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  9. i always do patch tests - last year i had a massive allergic reaction whilst using conditioner and i ended up with 2 bald patches - luckily for me it grew back x

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  10. Nice color, you explain it really good! Maybe we can follow each other?x

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