Skin Testing: The Elephant in the Room
Why is skin testing so important?
All manufacturers of hair colour products insist on skin testing before their product is applied to a client’s hair. But why is this? Mainly it’s due to an ingredient in nearly all hair colour products called PPD. This is known to produce a reaction in some people, from redness on the scalp to full on blistering and serious burns requiring hospital treatment. These more extreme reactions often lead to the threat of legal action or actual proceedings against the salon that administered the colour.
Having an up to date skin test is the only way to ensure that you can show that you followed the manufacturer’s guidance. But is there a way to use skin testing to your advantage?
Before we go any further, please note that this article in no way constitutes legal advice. You should always consult your legal adviser before deciding on your approach to skin testing for your clients and follow manufacturer’s guidelines at all times.
What are other salons doing?
Whilst it’s important to be in the know about what your competitors are offering in relation to skin testing, it’s a matter of making sure that all your clients are skin tested no matter what. Showing this level of care and attention for your clients will enhance your reputation and make them feel that you are taking their safety seriously.
Don’t let your competition or your peer group dictate what is right and wrong in skin testing. Make your own mind up and stick to it without fail.
How to have the conversation
Honesty has always been the best policy. Clients are rushed, very short of time and want to go black to blonde in the same day as they have seen a Kardashian do it on social media. Therefore, the consultation is key to raising the subject of skin testing.
You need to make sure that you are managing your client’s expectations, but at the same time you are the professional and you have your client’s best interests at heart. During the consultation explain why you skin test, the importance of it and the potential dangers if you don’t carry out a skin test. Be confident and do not relent on your policy. You know it will be that one client who insists it will be ok that ends up having a reaction and then blames you. Don’t cut corners, ever.
Skin testing doesn’t always have to be a difficult conversation and can be used to your advantage. Think about using it as a means of contacting clients that haven’t returned to the salon in the last six months and who haven’t rebooked. It’s possible these clients are not planning on coming back. Now you have a legitimate reason to contact clients that you haven’t seen for a while. Why not call or email them requesting that they come in for a skin test, and at the same time offer them money off their next colour or a complimentary treatment? They’ll be impressed that you contacted them in the first place, will feel looked after and will also benefit from money off.
Nobody wants to be sued
Perhaps the most compelling reason for skin testing is that you don’t want to end up with a lawsuit to contend with. If you didn’t skin test and the client has a bad reaction, then you’re going to be in trouble. It probably won’t make much difference that the client refused a test, and therefore you have to be firm and turn people away if they won’t have one. Think short term gain over long term and potentially catastrophic loss. In this social media age, it’s so easy for someone to post negative reviews or images, and we’ve seen awful colour reactions make national news in the past. It isn’t worth risking your business for.
More and more legal firms are offering No Win, No fee actions and they are waiting in the wings for the client who has visited a salon, had a colour service and suffered an allergic reaction. Don’t put yourself or your salon in this position, make sure no matter what, that every single new client has a skin test and every existing client is tested every three months.
About Colour Reset
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