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Changes to patch testing legislation

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Changes to patch testing legislation

Although we’ve been closed for the best part of a year, the hair and beauty industry has continued to evolve. There has been considerably big changes in the way our industry uses colour and tint. These have come from the Government, insurances and industry bodies. Due to these changes, the protocol around ‘patch testing’ has changed dramatically. 

The Sanctuary has always skin tested every client before a colour service for colour/tint allergies. We used either a Colourstart skin test (temporary tattoo system) or by manually applying tint to the skin (this is called the AAT method). Now here’s where it gets a little complicated…

The Government regulator ‘MHRA' (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) have recently reclassified Colourstart from a prescription-only medicine (POM) to a general sale list (GSL) medicine. Because of this, the way the little tattoo’s are administered, sold and then the information monitored/stored has to change. Due to the increase of exposure to the ingredient PPD and subsequent increase in allergic reactions, the MHRA do not want to see consumers exposed unnecessarily, and have advised less testing is safer.

To avoid overexposure, Colourstart is now supported by an online ‘passport system’, which allows a client to only ever have one skin test going forward. The MHRA have mandated that once a test has been carried out and a positive/green/go ahead result has been recorded, then a new test will only be necessary if there has been any changes. Colourstart monitors and stores the information of those who have had a test and before each appointment, a client will undergo a quick and easy screening questionnaire to assess whether another test is necessary or whether they can go ahead with the appointment without further testing.

Here's the second tricky regulation that has come about…

Our industry body NHBF (National Hair & Beauty Federation), after seeing the changed classification of Colourstart and recommendations from MHRA, felt they needed to change rules on the AAT method. They have worked with the insurance industry on a new protocol which means that an AAT test has to be done every 6 months. 

"Well, why not do that then?" I hear you ask… 

This method is fine as long as you plan to keep to the exact same colour, toner, developer as you have been using previously. If you fancied a change or even fancied a different toner application, this would need to be patch tested beforehand. See our dilemma!? As you can imagine this is not at all practical and something we appreciate client’s would not be happy with. This also goes against the recommendations from the MHRA regarding exposure to PPD.

We will still be offering the AAT method but we ask you consider Coloursmart system for safety, ease of use and for the freedom it gives you.

Third and final blow...

Due to colour start now being classed as a general sale medicine, the industry is no longer allowed to give these out for free and they must in fact be sold at a recommended retail price of £15. The cost of these tests are the same across the UK and by no means are a money-making strategy. As a team, we have lost sleep over these plans and by the general costs of these tests. So to soften the blow a little bit, we have made the decision to offer an in-salon Olaplex conditioning treatment to those who purchase a passport for half-price at £12.50 (usually £25).

We understand that all this will sound confusing, but be rest assured that all of The Sanctuary staff have been given full training on how to keep you safe and can assist you further with any questions you may have.

Step 1 - register on the Colourstart website to make sure you're eligible for a patch test. For the Colourstart website click here
Step 2 - Buy a patch test here
Step 3 - Follow instructions found in the patch test packaging. You will be required to go back to the Colourstart website and let them know you are starting your patch test (there will be a video for you to watch if you are struggling with anything). You will be required to take & upload photos of the patch test on your arm, during and after as well as enter the BATCH NO on to the Colourstart website.

**Patch testing for brow and lash tints will continue to be carried out via an AAT and will need to be repeated every 6 months, unless your previous appointment is within this time frame, then we can use your last appointment as your patch test (everyone will need re-patch testing before we reopen). We are able to send patch tests to those who do not live nearby at a cost of £3 (these are not suitable for hair colour services).

Colourstart patch tests cover both hair and facial tinting but not LVL.

If you require more information on patch testing regulations, please see the Gov.co.uk website here

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