Patch & Strand Testing

Patch & Strand Testing

PATCH TESTING: THE ESSENTIAL INFORMATION

Before you take the plunge and dye your hair, it’s absolutely essential to perform a patch test. This simple procedure enables you to check for any potential allergic reactions prior to application and is a step that you should never skip, even if you’ve used the same dye previously.
How to perform a patch test:

  1. Choose a small area of skin (Roughly, 1 x 1cm or the size of a penny) in a discrete, yet easy to monitor location. The inner fold of the elbow or behind the ear are typically used for this purpose. 
  2. Wash the test area with a mild soap and warm water, then gently dab dry using a clean towel. 
  3. Using a cotton bud, apply a thin layer of dye to the test area and allow to dry. 
  4. Leave the area undisturbed and do not apply soap, makeup, perfumes or skin lotions to the area for 48 hours, so the results are true and accurate. 
  5. After 48 hours, examine the area for any signs of tenderness, redness or irritation. If your patch test has resulted in no irritation, then you can safely use the product. If you experience any level of redness, irritation, swelling or flaking in the 48 hours following the patch test, it is recommended that you do not use the product under any circumstances. In the case of extreme adverse reactions, seek immediate medical attention.

STRAND TESTING: WHY IT'S IMPORTANT

In addition to performing a patch test, it’s a good idea to get a strand test done once you’ve established that you can safely use the product. A strand test enables you to find out what colour your hair will come out, enabling you to determine your ideal processing time, as well as the resulting condition of your hair.

Here’s how to perform a stress-free strand test:

  1. Get Your Sample: The most common way to do this is by grabbing a small chunk of hair (Around 10 hairs usually suffices) from a relatively inconspicuous area on the back of your head and cutting it off as close to the scalp as you possibly can. In order to effectively perform the patch test, you must secure the hair at one end to keep things in one place. This can be done by applying some superglue to the first few centimetres of the sample, buy securing with thread or by taping down to a small piece of card. Don’t use hairs collected from a hairbrush or comb, as they come from several locations on the head and therefore, can provide unreliable results.
  2. Lighten Up: If you’re planning to pre-lighten and then colour your hair, the strand test will help you to determine the optimum processing time for the lengths of your hair (The roots will obviously develop faster when you apply the bleach to the hair on your head, due to the heat of your scalp, so apply the product to your roots last.). Make sure that you mix the product using the correct (Albeit, scaled down) ratios before applying to the hair and cover in plastic film or foil, so that it doesn’t dry out. To assess the lightening process, rub a little mixture off the sample every 5-10 minutes see how things are coming along. Once you’ve achieved your desired lightness, rinse the hair, then shampoo and condition to get the remaining bleach off and allow to air dry. This will help you to assess the condition your hair is likely to be in following the bleaching procedure. Once the hair is completely dry and you’re satisfied with the condition, you can then apply your chosen dye! (See steps 3 and 4 for more information) Mixing Magic: If you’re going on to create a custom colour, we advise starting by putting the ‘carrier’ product (I.e. Conditioner, pastel-izer or the lighter hair dye shade) in the dye bowl first. For the purposes of this exercise, you should need around a teaspoon of ‘carrier’ product. Next, begin to add the predominant colour in very small increments (Around 1/4 to 1/8 of a teaspoon at a time) and thoroughly mix in until you’ve achieved your desired shade. If you wanted to customise it further, you can begin to add in even smaller increments of secondary colours until the perfect shade emerges. Once you’re happy with the resultant shade, you can apply it to your hair, wrap in film or foil and allow to process for the recommended duration stated on the dye packaging. Once the processing time has elapsed, rinse the dye from the sample and allow to dry naturally.
  3. Mixing Magic: If you’re going on to create a custom colour, we advise starting by putting the ‘carrier’ product (I.e. Conditioner, pastel-izer or the lighter hair dye shade) in the dye bowl first. For the purposes of this exercise, you should need around a teaspoon of ‘carrier’ product. Next, begin to add the predominant colour in very small increments (Around 1/4 to 1/8 of a teaspoon at a time) and thoroughly mix in until you’ve achieved your desired shade. If you wanted to customise it further, you can begin to add in even smaller increments of secondary colours until the perfect shade emerges. Once you’re happy with the resultant shade, you can apply it to your hair, wrap in film or foil and allow to process for the recommended duration stated on the dye packaging. Once the processing time has elapsed, rinse the dye from the sample and allow to dry naturally. 
  4. Colour Chemistry: If you’re planning to dye over the top of your existing colour, then a strand test is the easiest way to determine what shade you’ll end up with. Simply apply the colour as stated in step 3, allow to process and then rinse and air dry to see the colour magic at work. If the sample hasn’t turned out as you hoped, then one of these common factors may be at work:
  • Hair has a green-ish or brassy undertone: Your hair may require ‘filling’ before dyeing again, to ensure the correct undertones and pigments are present, or the undertones of the dye selected may not be the best fit for your hair. 
  • The colour isn’t intense enough: Your base shade may not be light enough to achieve a vibrant effect, or the colour didn’t have adequate processing time. 
  • The colour is too dark: You may need to go back to the drawing board to find a shade that’s a better match for your expectations, or prepare to lighten the dye by mixing with a pastel-izer, conditioner or by cutting with a lighter toned dye from the same colour family.

And there you have it, our definitive guide to patch and strand testing. For information on how to dye your hair, make sure you check out our comprehensive guide!

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Patch & Strand Testing

Patch & Strand Testing

Thinking of dyeing your hair? Want to know how to do it safely? Then read our guide to patch and strand testing!

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