What does patch testing mean to you?

Do you patch test, do you know why we patch test?

These questions are a constant that I find so many of you see it as an inconvenience. I’m not actually sure how many of us really know the consequence of not patch testing, why we patch test or even how we patch test.

As I spend a lot of time with trainees taking an interest in the beauty industry, one of my questions to them is ‘who has had a patch test and how was it done?’ I am absolutely in shock as the percentage of you that say you’ve never had a patch test for many of your different treatments, eyelash extensions, lash lifts and even tinting. I want to solely concentrate on eyelash extension adhesive in this post but patch testing in itself is important for all beauty treatments where your skin is exposed to treatments containing ingredients that come with a warning label.

When carrying out a patch test for eyelash extension adhesive you should never directly place the adhesive on to the skin, after all do we apply the extensions to the skin? You should prepare you client as if they were about to have their eyelash extension treatment and then apply around 5 7mm eyelash extensions on the end of each eye, this will test both eyes incase the cornea is weaker in one eye more that the other and allow for inhalation to the respiratory system. If your client sees any sign at all of an allergic reaction then imagine the reaction carrying out a full set over 2 hours.

Patch testing is our way to test beauty products with ingredients that can cause allergies and reactions. Many of us today suffer with different allergies due to environmental issues, antibacterial soaps, genetics to name but a few.

As the U.K. is going through a beauty salon boom, the industry employs more than 1 million people across the country at an estimated worth of 16.6 Billion to the U.K. According to the GUILD Semi-permanent eyelash extensions are said to be the second most popular treatment in the beauty industry.

If this is the case and we know the industry isn’t regulated, it is our individual job as lash artists to ensure our clients are given the best service to safeguard them and us as an individual or salon. It is our job to follow the COSHH regulations when offering out our services and using products like our adhesive which main ingredient is cyanoacrylate.

How much do you know about Cyanoacrylate?

Cyanoacrylates are a family of strong fast acting adhesives used for industrial, medical and household uses. The acryl groups in the resin rapidly polymerise in the presence of water and heat curing for maximum bond. This bonding process normally takes 24 hours, one of the reasons we tell our clients not to wet their lashes as it will break down the bond weakening their eyelash extension attachment. Cyanoacrylate is at its most exposed in the first 24 hours before fully bonding and around 5% of the population are sensitive to cyanoacrylate after continuous use. This number is only increasing as the eyelash extension treatment becomes more popular. It can cause irritation to the mucas membrane of the respiratory tract as the fumes are vaporised and polymerise with the moisture sometimes leading to flu like symptoms and even a trigger of asthma over long term use. It is vital you keep your working area well ventilated. Cyanoacrylate can also be a skin irritant causing an allergic skin reaction, swelling, burning sensation around the eyes. Chemical eye burns, sometimes leading to conjunctivitis or worst burning of the Cornea. In extreme cases has been known to cause burns when it has come in to contact with cottons, jeans, yarn, cotton swabs and cotton balls bursting in to flames or causing a heavy white smoke which can cause damage on inhalation. To prevent any of the above from happening it is vital you follow the data handling sheet for Cyanoacrylate and one of the main instructions from any manufacturer is to patch test and keep away from the above materials.

If patch testing is a requirement how come so many of you think it’s ok not to? That a disclaimer will be enough to protect your client from the above happening and protect your from a huge compensation claim if the above does happen. When you sat your client down to sign a disclaimer did you carry out a consultation to collect all the relevant details required for insurance purposes? Yes, again something that is required and WILL go against you in a court of law. When having the disclaimer form signed did you give your client the complete effects of a severe allergic reaction, educating them on the adhesives we use, because this will be the argument against you in court. You are the trained therapist that has responsibility for your client. Don’t see this as an inconvenience, see it as a time to carry out a consultation, patch test, a service. I understand that there are many reasons for and against patch testing, how accurate can it be with allergies to tape, pads and even the carbon black in the adhesive but 1 patch test in a 10 minute consultation is the difference between you staying reputable, open or having to pay out on a claim anywhere between £7,000 to £23,000, according to Legal Quittance Services, which could have dire consequences for funding and the upkeep of your business. Not only that but the compensation your client receives should cover financial, emotional and psychological damages, and even the cost of travel to the appointment, meaning that you may owe even more than you realise.

So ask yourself.. just because you’ve never seen a reaction yet, does that mean your not likely to, does it mean no matter how severe it is your client won’t take legal action? It’s is our duty to protect our clients, ourselves and uphold the industry standards. Think about what that means to you...

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