Following Insurance Guidelines - How and When to Patch Test
Why do we patch test?
Quite obviously the answer is to find out if there are any allergies to the products being used or contra- indications present. A contra- indication is something that prevents or restricts a treatment from going ahead.
When it comes to patch testing we need to make sure we follow all the guidelines. Following the correct protocol is imperative to ensure we follow not only the guidelines of Health and Safety but also that of our insurers.
How do we patch test for eyelash application?
It is quite often the case within the beauty industry that when a patch test is performed, the product we are using is simply placed on the client's skin in a small amount. When it comes to treatments such as waxing or eyelash tinting then this method of patch testing is perfectly fine, as the products you are testing are designed to come into contact with the skin itself.
Time and time again I see on social media or hear from clients that they have been patch tested for eyelash application, the test being a small dot of the lash adhesive (glue) being placed onto the skin of the client, quite commonly behind the ear. This method is in-fact incorrect and there's a very important reason as to why.
Eyelash adhesive is classed as a cosmetic in the UK according to the guidelines laid out by Article 2 of the EU Cosmetics regulation act number 1223/2009.
A "cosmetic product" means any substance or mixture intended to be placed in contact with the various external parts of the human body (epidermis, hair system, nails, lips and external genital organs) or with the teeth and the mucous membranes of the oral cavity with a view exclusively or mainly to cleaning them, perfuming them, changing their appearance and/or correcting body odours and/or protecting them or keeping them in good condition.
Lash adhesive is also a chemical. The main ingredient in the majority of eyelash adhesives is Ethol-2-Cyanoacrylate. Ethol-2- Cyanoacrylate is the same main ingredient that is used in Super glues. One would think that the amount of Ethol-2-Cyanoacrylate in eyelash adhesives must be much lower than that of a Super glue... but this isn't necessarily the case. In Superglues, the percentage of Ethol-2-Cyanoacrylate is roughly 96% depending on the brand and manufacturer whereas the amount in eyelash adhesives can vary between 75-95%. Upon taking this into consideration it becomes clear that eyelash adhesive is not designed to come into contact with the skin. When Individual or Russian volume eyelash extensions are applied there is a 0.5/1mm gap left between the client's lid line or skin and where the synthetic lash is placed.
So then, how should you patch test correctly?
First of all, before we patch test a client we need to ensure that we carry out a full consultation. Personally, I advise that a 30-minute booking is made for this appointment. The first 15 minutes should be allocated to welcoming your client and giving them your consultation form to fill out. After the form has been filled out and you are happy that no Contra- Indications have been found, you then need to discuss with your client their expectations of the treatment and style their eyes as well as design their lash set. The next 15 minutes of the appointment is for the patch test itself.
To correctly patch test we need to not only patch test for the adhesive but for everything we are going to use in the process of applying the eyelash extensions. We lay the client on the couch, remove any makeup, place the under eye gel pads or tape onto the lower lashes, Prime the lashes with a primer and then apply 2 or 3 lashes to the outer corner of each of the client's eyes. By patch testing this way we are putting every product we are going to be using onto the client so, if a reaction or any allergies were going to arise, it should do so within the next 24 hours.
It is advised prior to the client's patch test/consultation appointment to make them aware that they are going to have a couple of lashes applied so to arrive with no contact lenses in, no mascara on and to allow a 30-minute time frame for their appointment.
Once the patch test has been completed you need to make the client aware of what to look out for and how to react in the case of a skin reaction. Some signs of an allergic reaction could be erythema (reddening of the skin), watery eyes, reddening of the whites of the eyes, itching, irritation, stinging or swelling.
If the client notices any of the above or is in any discomfort make them aware that they should contact you straight away and that if this is the case then the main appointment for the full application will be cancelled. You would need to get the client in to remove the lashes you applied and advise that if the irritation does not subside within 24/48hrs then to seek medical advice. Anti-histamines or a cold compress can be used to calm down the effects of an allergic reaction.
It seems like a lot of work, should we charge for patch testing?
Personally, I do not charge for consultations or patch testing, however, in some salons, they take a deposit or a booking fee at the patch test towards the cost of the full set. Either option is acceptable and your choice depends on your area and own personal preference.
Always check with your insurer as to how they require you to patch test and within what time frame as some speculate 24 hours and others say 48 hours. Be sure to always document the products used on the client's consultation card and that they sign the consultation form.
Who needs to have a patch test done?
Patch testing MUST be carried out on all new clientele even if they have had lashes applied elsewhere previously.
Disclaimers are a very grey area within the beauty industry. Most people feel that the use of disclaimers does not stand up in court however, this is not always the case. Something that is VERY important to understand is that most, if not all insurers, will NOT accept the use of disclaimers so it is imperative that you check what your own individual insurance policies guidelines are when it comes to the use of these.
Within our industry, a disclaimer would need to be signed or would be used if a client does not want or has not had a patch test. Now, If your insurance does not accept the use of disclaimers and you choose to have a client sign one then your insurance will be void should there be a claim made against you with that specific client. In regards to the legal system, disclaimers can stand up in courts to some extent but only if they are written correctly. This would mean that you would need a legal professional such as a solicitor to write a very in-depth and detailed disclaimer for you to use. Even having a professionally written disclaimer doesn't guarantee that you would win your fight against a claim as, if a court can prove negligence on your behalf then that disclaimer would be void anyway. Personally, I believe that if you have not performed a patch test on your client then this could, in fact, be classed as negligence.
So as a whole I feel that disclaimers are a VERY risky option and that the safer and more professional route is to ALWAYS patch test new clients.