When Rachel Bulmer bought a £5 box of hair dye to look like Cheryl Cole at a party, she didn’t expect that a few days later medics would tell her she might have to shave her head to stop the unexpected and painful reaction to the hair dye.
“I definitely don’t feel as glamorous as Cheryl, I feel disgusting, because I’ve got scabs on my head and burns on my skin,” 27-year-old Rachel said.
Rachel took the skin test two days before dying her hair, as advised by L’Oreal, which seemed to prove there would be no allergic reaction. But when she dyed her whole head of hair, her face swelled up and blisters began to appear on her face, a reaction which caused intense burning and pain.
“I was in that much pain I thought I was dying,” Rachel from Leeds said. “It’s nearly three weeks since I dyed my hair and I’m still in absolute agony… I’m too ashamed to go out.”
Rachel says she feels like a prisoner in her own home. The itching and blisters are still present and she has to smear cream on her face to cool her skin down. When told she might have to lose her hair so the reaction would go away, Rachel was horrified.
“I’m not vain, but for any women being told to cut your hair off is terrifying… Luckily they gave me antibiotics and steroids instead. They’ve helped but I’m still in a lot of pain.”
A woman’s hair plays a central role in her sense of confidence and femininity but dangerous chemicals can result in allergic reactions or even hair loss. Most women are aware that the quality of their hair can be compromised with hair dye but few believe that hair loss, or a reaction as severe as Rachel’s, is a possibility.
“I can’t believe something so simple as dying my hair can cause me so much pain and make me look like this,” Rachel said. “I feel awful.”
Some women believe it’s safer to go to a salon to dye their hair, but the UK hairdressing industry remains unregulated and recently, 25 out of 30 salons surveyed in Wales failed to suggest the customer have a patch test to see if they were allergic to the dye before having the treatment done. Denise Kitchener, chief executive of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, said it was “shocking and concerning” that an industry as big as hairdressing was left to its own devices.
Recently, bride-to-be Natalie Trainer said her confidence was “totally shattered” when the chemicals in her hairdresser’s hair dye burnt her scalp and left bald five weeks before her wedding. Similarly, Diane Banks was mortified when a trip to the salon left her with a burnt scalp and “red and weeping” bald patches. Even Kelly Osbourne was reduced to tears when “the lady in the salon forgot about me” and she was left with “a scab for a head [and] bald patches”.
Hair loss products are often helpful for women with thinning hair, whether it is a result of poor hair care routines, poor health or diet, even hereditary reasons. However, maintaining good hair care routines are also important to ensuring the hair is in its best condition.
If you have had a similar experience, you should contact your hairdresser, or the company the hair dye comes from, and your doctor for advice. If you are worried about hair loss and want to know the most effective way to regrow any lost or thinning hair, contact the professionals at the Belgravia Centre by calling 020 7730 6666. Alternatively, you could send and email for more information or fill in an online diagnostic form.