A new harmonised professional skin testing protocol has been announced by the Hairdressing Council and other leading industry bodies and associations.¹


These respected organisations have collaborated to harmonise the changes announced by Cosmetics Europe² in early 2023 with existing industry best practices. This new protocol defines a clear benchmark that all hair professionals, insurers and hair colour brands can now meet to confidently support and promote the safe use of professional hair colour services in the UK.

The new protocol recognises three systems for professional allergy alert testing:

  1. The Allergy Alert Test (AAT). Instructions designed by manufacturers and printed on packaging and instructions for use.
  2. Protocols designed for professional use only and conducted by a hair professional.³ Hair colour brand protocols are applicable to their own products only, whereas some hair industry, trade organisations and insurers protocols can be used with any hair colour brand.
  3. Universal allergy screening tests licenced as medicines for consumers to use at home to screen for the most common hair colour allergen (PPD). These products are available to buy online or via approved stockists and may only need to be used once.

This new harmonised protocol does not recommend the transfer of colourants from the original manufacturer’s packaging to post to clients for the purposes of an at-home test, as this goes against industry best practice and may invalidate insurance cover.

It is hoped that the clarity from these new guidelines will also help consumers make an informed choice for their next colour service and avoid those not meeting the minimum standards expected.

Gareth Penn, Registrar, Hair & Barber Council says: “The new harmonised professional testing protocol is fantastic news for the hairdressing industry. Having three options that have been thoroughly researched and examined by our industry leaders makes it simpler to understand and easier for us to communicate to the public. This is something that the sector has needed guidance on for a long time, and I praise the organisations and individuals who have joined forces for the greater good of the industry.”

¹Good Salon Guide, Salon Employers Association, The Barber Council, The Fellowship for British Hairdressing, The Freelance Hairdressers’ Association, The Hair Council, The Men’s Hairdressing Federation and The NHBF.

²COSMETICS EUROPE RECOMMENDATION N° 27. Allergy Alert Test for hair colouring products

³Precise protocols differ and it is the responsibility of hair professionals to check cover with their own insurance provider.