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Big news from Cosmetics Europe delivers new skin test guidance, but does it help the hair & beauty profession?

The European trade association representing the cosmetics and personal care industry, Cosmetics Europe, have released new skin testing guidelines to hair colour manufacturers. The new advice for the Allergy Alert Test should enable the test to be conducted the same way for all brands, whether at home or in a 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 advice given is to mix tint and developer together and apply a pea-sized amount, which is then thinly spread evenly across a 2cm x 2cm area on the inner side of forearm. This should then be left on for 45 minutes without covering or touching. 

Consultant toxicologist Dr David Basketter, one of the UK’s leading voices of authority in toxicology, explains why carrying out an allergy alert test in fact risks causing allergy. 

“You can become allergic at any time, but only by being exposed which is why salons should not be putting unmeasured blobs of colour on their 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. 

Europe’s Scientific Committee on Human Safety (SCCS), published similar concerns, “If the AAT is used on a regular basis before hair dyeing, it will inevitably increase the number of exposures, and this may increase the risk of sensitisation”1

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.”

For further information on Colourstart email, visit or call 0330 3905888.