Hair Coloring: Potential Problems Encountered in a Salon Setting
A lot of people think nothing of having their hair colored Ė whether itís at home using a kit or in a salon by a professional. The products for doing so have become so easy to use and the practice has become so
commonplace that most people equate it with changing their nail polish or using a curling iron. Yet the fact remains that hair color services are chemical services. Because they are chemical services, there are
potential dangers involved and the operator should be trained to do everything in his or her power to avoid those potential dangers at all times. So letís look at the possible problems one might encounter, and see
what we can do about them.
Allergic Reaction and Sensitivity
In some cases, the chemicals used for hair color services are very caustic and can evoke an allergic reaction in some clients. High-lift color processing, and hair bleaching services use high concentrations of hydrogen
peroxide and may include bleaching agents that are never meant to come in contact with the skin. And the simple facts are that by the very nature of allergies, a client who has had the same procedure dozens of times
before with no ill effects could suddenly - and without warning - have an allergic reaction of a very serious nature.
Even if there is no allergic response, some people will develop sensitivity to a chemical substance with repeated exposure. This means that the client who has never complained that the haircolor formula bothered her in
any way, may find that it starts to sting and burn her scalp when applied.
Itís these situations that are the reason behind the standard protocol of performing patch testing on any client set to receive a chemical service. A dab of the mixture to be used on the clientís hair is swabbed onto an
innocuous place on the individualís body (perhaps inside the crook of the arm, or just behind the ear) and allowed to sit for 10 minutes and then is wiped away. The client is then usually asked to wait 24 to 48 hours and
look for signs of redness or irritation in the locations where the swab was placed. If there is any sign of irritation or redness in these sites, the operator is not to perform the service.
These days, many salons donít do patch testing. Some simply do the services without testing, and some instead have the client sign a waiver stating that they are accepting all of the potential risks inherent in any
chemical service they wish to have.
Over-Processing and Under-Processing
One of the other potential problems in color services is the possibility of over-processing the hair. This will leave the hair damaged, dry and feeling brittle and straw-like. This can be a result of improper color
formulation and/or failure to closely monitor the progress of the hair as it is being processed. You simply cannot just apply the color to the hair and leave it for a certain period of time. This is doubly true if you
are using high-lift color. In that situation, you should never turn your back on the hair at all.
When the hair color processes on the hair, the chemical reaction involved in developing the color (or with bleaching in dispersing the existing color) generates heat. Heat speeds up the reaction time for the chemical
processing, so that the hair formula begins to develop faster as time passes. If you arenít paying close attention to the hair and the processing, you could easily damage your clientís hair.
Sometimes the fault isnít as much a matter of failing to pay attention as it is failing to use the right formulation. In performing a color service, itís key for the operator to assess and consider the traits of an
individualís hair before beginning the service. He or she should look for the hairís density (how many hairs per square inch on the scalp), texture (how thick or thin the diameter of the hair shaft is), its resistance
(how tightly the cuticle scales are laid against one another) and the overall condition of the hair (is it already damaged, and if so, how badly?).
Any of these traits can affect the way the color processing works. An individual with very dense hair will retain the heat of the chemical reaction more readily at the scalp, and may also encounter issues with even
distribution of the color formula. The result will be spotty and splotchy color results that are not pleasing to look at.