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New Skin Testing Guidelines Could Cost Salons as Much as £350 Million

May 11, 2023

This week, new skin testing guidelines have been released from the European trade association representing the cosmetics and personal care industry, Cosmetics Europe.

The new advice for the Allergy Alert Test should enable the process to be conducted the same way for all brands, whether at home or in salon, thereby simplifying understanding among consumers and hair professionals.

Ultimately, the aim of this revised guidance is to ensure that all manufacturers are giving the same message for safe use of their products at home and in professional settings.

The new advice is as follows:

  1. Mix tint and developer together
  2. Apply a pea-sized amount, thinly spread evenly across a 2cm x 2cm area on the inner side of forearm.
  3. Leave this on for 45 minutes without covering or touching.


However, Consultant toxicologist, Dr David Basketter, explains why carrying out an allergy alert test can in fact risk causing allergy:

“You can become allergic to colour any time you are exposed to it, this is why salons should not be putting unmeasured blobs of colour on clients’ skin each time,” he says. “It is this continued application of blob testing over the years that causes over exposure and, in some cases, an allergic reaction,” he adds. “Put simply, repeating the use of an Allergy Alert Test increases the risk of allergy,” David concludes.

Nick Plunkett is the Chief Executive Officer of Colourstart, the UK’s only clinically proven test for allergy to hair colour (PPD), licenced by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). “This latest guidance from Cosmetics Europe presents a major challenge for the hair profession.

A single recommendation covering domestic and professional use doesn’t work”. Nick adds, “40% of all hair colours are professional and, at present, very few colour treatments comply with insurance requirements. Changes that necessitate clients being in salons for 45 minutes for a test will exacerbate the problem”.

“I estimate that when you take into account the team time and product needed to carry out the recommended Allergy Alert Test, these changes could cost the profession as much as £350 million.”

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