Following the advice of the Scientific Committee on Consumer Products, the European Commission recently amended the legislation applicable to cosmetic products in order to strengthen requirements for labelling of hair dyes. The Commission intends to warn more clearly on the label of the dangers of developing allergic and sensitisation reactions when using hair dyes.

The new regulation [1], effective by the 1st of May 2010 at the latest, is replacing the current warning which reads “Can cause an allergic reaction” with the following:

Hair colorants can cause severe allergic reactions.
Read and follow instructions.
This product is not intended for use on persons under the age of 16.

Temporary “black henna” tattoos may increase your risk of allergy.

Do not colour your hair if:
- you have a rash on your face or sensitive, irritated and damaged scalp,
- you have ever experienced any reaction after colouring your hair,
- you have experienced a reaction to a temporary “black henna” tattoo in the past.

Most colour additives contained in hair dyes are concerned by this change, including phenylenediamines.

Contact allergies caused by hair dye products are an increasingly important health problem, often causing acute and severe dermatitis to individuals. Growth in allergy cases linked to hair dyes opens new market opportunities for manufacturers of patch tests such as Colourstart.

Colourstart is an allergy indicator in the form of a temporary transfer. The transfer identifies those individuals who may be allergic to PPD (phenylenediamine) and PTD (p-toluene diamine). According to Trichocare Diagnostics Ltd, the manufacturer of Colourstart, the patch is already used in 4,000 UK hair salons.