COVID-19 or Dye?

 In Blog

What did I do in quarantine? I started a blog, and here’s my first entry…

COVID-19 or Dye?

Would you rather get very sick and potentially die or from your perspective, get “ugly”? Being a hairdresser of over 16 years and salon owner of over 7 years, closing shop and being forced to stop working was heartbreaking. In the beauty industry I’m seeing professional hair dye kits being mailed to clients, requests for house calls, tutorials on how to cut and color your hair at home by ‘professionals’ – all in a reaction to the pandemic panic.

This is a pandemic, a first for the United States. Many of us are shut down and mandated to stay home. This is NOT a long vacation that we chose to go on. For me, it’s a time of selflessness and to think of others. We all have a huge chunk of time for self-reflection, a time to reflect on our relationships with other people, the world around us, the environment that we occupy, and how we have chosen to treat all of it, an onion, with many, many layers…

Right now, time doesn’t seem to exist. It has only been a matter of days, maybe a week, since the mandates have been put into effect. I understand the panic, financial strain, and understand the desperation in my industry. I have had my own moments. We have a lot of time on our hands; however, this epidemic isn’t an excuse to throw the rules and regulations out the window. Each state is different when it comes to the board of rules and regulations in Cosmetology that hairdressers need to abide by in order to have and keep, their Cosmetology license. I know Wisconsin’s and have called the Wisconsin Department of Licensing to confirm these rules and regulations.

As a professional Cosmetologist, it is one of our duties and responsibilities to keep ourselves, our employees, our clients safe, while using our tools and products properly. This is why we go through training, have manufacturer’s directions, protocols for blood exposure and contagious pathogens, and learn signs to recognize domestic abuse.

There are manufacturer’s directions in all the chemicals and colors that we use. It’s important to note, every box of color has these directions included in multiple languages. Included are directions on how to use the product, how to perform what’s called a ‘patch test’ in case an allergic reaction occurs, warnings, and all state “for professional use only”. An example is this paper insert inside the box of Alfaparf’s Evolution of the Color, (photo taken by me):

Alfaparf’s Evolution of the Color Label

This is how these companies can guarantee results and how they avoid liability if both the customer OR professional decide to stray from these directions.

Do you know who is liable if these directions aren’t followed and something bad happens? WE ARE. The hairdressers are held liable. Yes, we have liability insurance to cover us, HOWEVER, it is only if we are the ones performing the service in our licensed establishments. Therefore, sending your clients home with professional color to use on themselves is going against these directions, breaks regulations, becomes a liability, and is an incredibly poor judgement call.

Below are two examples of what happens when hair color processing can go extremely wrong.

Please note, graphic images of the results below:

This woman from Houston, TX had a severe allergic reaction, although an extreme case, is possible.

Image curtesy of Read full article here.

This is another example of a case that circulated showing a severe allergic reaction.

Image curtesy of Read full article here.

I do want to note that the article does say she was allergic to a widely used chemical in permanent dye, named Para-Phenylenediamine (PPD). There are permanent hair color dyes that don’t have PPD. It’s important to note that people can have a reaction to PPD-free hair color as they may have sensitivity to other ingredients, even natural ingredients. This emphasizes why these products are only to be used by professionals.

Even if we see a client regularly, we have no idea what may have changed in their lives in-between their appointments. As a rule, we are not allowed to send home professional color to our clients – we don’t have a choice. It is our job as professionals to do a thorough consultation with any client, it is their prerogative to do with the information as they see fit. We can only strongly advise and provide the necessary information so that our clients can make an educated decision. I know some stylists may have clients say, “I would never say anything if something happened…”

That isn’t good enough.

If the client must go to the doctor because of a bad reaction, it is completely out of the client’s hands. The physician will have to know what happened. The client’s insurance company will do whatever they can to avoid covering the medical bills and will instead go after the hairdresser’s insurance. A hairdresser’s insurance only applies if performed by the professional in a licensed establishment, therefore, in this situation the client’s insurance company will sue the individual hairdresser. This exact scenario has happened to a fellow hairdresser, but because she performed the service in a licensed establishment, her insurance took care of it. This is why we have liability insurance.

There is a reason why our services had to stop and why “house calls” cannot be an exception. “House calls” are already against regulations as a business practice in many states and goes against many states’ “stay at home” and “social distancing” mandates, defeating the purpose of having these regulations in place. Even in normal circumstances where onsite services can be performed because you work under a licensed establishment, the establishment is CLOSED.

I mentioned there is training and protocols for blood exposure, bloodborne pathogens, and contagious diseases that cosmetologists in general need to know. We must follow these guidelines to make sure that these viruses aren’t transmitted to another person.

We know VERY little about COVID-19. We DO know that this virus is EXTREMELY contagious and stays active on various surfaces – for MUCH longer than I’m comfortable with. We also don’t know who has it or who isn’t a carrier because there are cases out there with mild to no symptoms. We cannot guarantee the safety or our ability to stop the spread of COVID-19, doing our work.

Hairdressers, remember when there was talk about getting rid of the requirement of obtaining a license in order to practice Cosmetology, many of us were and still are, pissed?? We said, a license is absolutely necessary due to the sharp implements, hot tools, and chemicals we use to perform our job.

Well, that’s still happening…

So, WHY are there so many of you throwing your credentials and licenses out the window by sending home hair dye kits, doing house calls, and uploading videos on how your clients can cut and color their hair at home?!

This is the time to prove why a license is so important!

I thought about sending at-home-color-kits and the possibility of house calls, but I had to stop, think, and not react because it’s bad practice, more importantly it’s AGAINST the board of rules and regulations in Cosmetology. It SUCKS!

Do you know what sucks more?

Those that still must go to work to keep us healthy, safe, and keep the world running. Those that are putting themselves and the people they live with at risk so the rest of us can stay home. I will forever be grateful for these people. We need to just stop, think and act, rather than react to our situation. This is a time to reflect on our self and our business; a time to be creative.

The beauty industry is one of the most creative industries out there. There are ways that we can help our clients, like retail. Products! This could include root concealer sprays or powders that come in a variety of colors… deep conditioning masks to nourish your clients’ hair while they’re waiting for their next cut… and color enhancing products with reviving pigment – all of which isn’t chemical-based for safe at-home alternatives – the list goes on. You can guide your clients on how to use such a product, hair accessories, and styling tips to use these alternatives at home.

Clients, I ask you to please support us during this time and wait for us. I don’t know any hairdresser who doesn’t want to work right now, because we love the work that we do. It is simply out of our hands.

I’m not here to judge anyone. I don’t know your pain or your struggles and everyone must make the best choice for themselves on what they think is right. We are all human. Saying that, it is also a time to think of others and the moral obligation of our profession to help keep others safe. I do know that I didn’t work my ass off and spend a lot of money over the last 16 years mastering my craft to throw it out the window so quickly.

You shouldn’t either.

Life has changed as we know it. This too shall pass and there will be money to be made again. There can be a beauty in all of this. A chance for all of us to reinvent ourselves and our business, and how we will move forward. There will be many possibilities with many opportunities. I know that we do have the power as an individual and as a collective to create a better future.

The Traveling Hairdresser

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  • Heidi Crull

    This is so beautifully written!! Thank you!!

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