Barrie Stephen, owner of Barrie Stephen Hair, is on a mission to make colouring safer for clients AND colourists. He talks to PAINT about his drive and accompanying petition to get all British salons adopting a Colour Responsible Policy…

My #DONTSKIPTHESKINTEST campaign urges every UK salon to publicly commit to skin testing every client before a colour service. This isn’t difficult or costly to implement – it’s a simple action that could potentially save a life. I feel very passionate about it, and believe that as an industry, we need to all be singing off the same hymn sheet.

The data from recent studies shows that there has been an increase in the number of people suffering from contact allergies relating to hair colourants in recent years. It’s important to note that these allergies can occur without warning, even in individuals who have been dying their hair consistently for a long time. Reactions can vary in severity, giving rashes and irritation; swelling; permanent disfigurement; or in some very high profile but rare cases, even death.

At Barrie Stephen Hair, we always put our clients first. But while their safety is paramount, there is also an important note of warning for the hairdressing industry. No-win no-fee claims against hairdressers are on the increase, so implementing and documenting a Colour Responsible Policy protects your business and the integrity of your stylists.

I was inspired by my close friend, Debbie Digby-Smith of Feathers salon in Colchester, who documented her story in a recently released a book Forewarned is Forearmed. In it, she details how she successfully dealt with a frivolous legal claim against chemical services delivered by her business. She has supported the campaign since the beginning, and recently joined with me to meet with representatives of the National Hairdressers Federation and Colourstart – the developers of an industry-standard allergy indicator – to discuss the issues.

My next step in the campaign is to bring the national chains on board; a Colour Responsible Policy is simply a responsible way to work, yet we’ve heard nothing from the big name salon groups. Independent salon owners are all enthusiastically taking up the cause, because they build strong relationships with their clients and want to keep them safe. At the moment, it seems like the larger chains aren’t interested in this, and that’s incredibly distressing to see.

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