Eyelash tinting is a beauty treatment which involves dyeing the lashes with a solution composed of colouring mixed with hydrogen peroxide. The procedure takes only 15 minutes and lasts for around 6 weeks on average. The popularity of eyelash tinting is due to the fact that it achieves an effect similar to mascara, without the need for regular reapplication. Tinting cannot be washed out by water or tears, making it perfect for beach holidays and weddings. Eyelash tinting is not risk-free however, and it is worth noting that the colour additives used in tinting are effectively illegal in the USA.
Those considering an eyelash tinting beauty treatment should have a consultation with their therapist and take a skin patch test 24-48 hours prior to the treatment taking place. A consultation should identify any medications or medical conditions which may adversely affect the outcome of the treatment. A contagious eye condition such as conjunctivitis for example would render eyelash tinting unsuitable for an individual.
A skin patch test should involve a tiny amount of the tinting solution being applied to the inner forearm or behind the ear, areas of skin which are the most similar to the skin around the eyes. The aim of the patch test is to identify any possible allergic reactions to chemicals such as colour additives used in eyelash tinting solutions. Even if a client has had their eyelashes tinted within the past 6 months a test should still be carried out, as different products contain different chemical formulations.
Many women who contact our firm following an adverse reaction to an eyelash tinting treatment are doubtful about whether or not they can make a compensation claim, because they signed a disclaimer (waiver) form stating that they did not want a skin patch test of the tinting product before the procedure was carried out.
Beauty salons and therapists often view patch testing as an inconvenience that disrupts their schedule and for which they cannot charge extra money. For this reason, some advise or encourage clients to complete a disclaimer form in the belief that this will absolve them of legal responsibility if something goes wrong.
Signing a disclaimer does NOT mean that a client loses the right to pursue a claim against a beauty salon for an eyelash tinting injury. Beauticians are trained professionals who are responsible for properly advising clients and carrying out treatments in a safe manner. Given the safety risks, advising a client to sign a disclaimer to avoid a patch test can be classed as negligence if the client subsequently experiences an adverse reaction to the tinting product.
Clients themselves often do not want a patch test for whatever reason, and are therefore happy to sign a disclaimer form. However, they are usually not capable of understanding the risks of not having a patch test before an eyelash tinting procedure, such as the potential consequences of an allergic reaction, meaning that a disclaimer will not be legally valid. Salons must be firm about the need for a patch test and not treat clients who refuse one, otherwise they can be held responsible for any negative outcome.
Inflammation, Burning Sensation, Swelling and Itchiness
Corneal Abrasions, Chemical Burns and Infections
Blurred Vision, Temporary or Permanent Blindness
There is also considerable scope for human error during eyelash tinting treatments. Even a small drop of eyelash tint spilled in the eye will cause pain, a burning sensation and blurred vision. Therapists should advise clients to keep their eyes firmly closed during the treatment, and apply a cotton shield under the eye to capture any drips. Clients should also remove any make up and contact lenses before the treatment is carried out. It is also essential that the therapist removes any excess dye and thoroughly rinses the eyelashes following the procedure.
By far the most dangerous ingredient contained in eyelash tinting products is para-phenylenediamine (PPD), a known contact allergen, and the same chemical that causes the vast majority of allergic reactions to hair dye that are regularly reported in the press. Most dark shade eyelash tints contain PPD, and beauty therapists and eyelash technicians should be well aware of the danger of allergic reactions to tints containing this chemical substance. Research suggests that somewhere between 2% and 14% of people may become allergic to PPD, and the medical consequences of an adverse reaction are unpredictable.
Two symptoms of an allergic reaction to PPD contained in eyelash tinting products are conjunctivitis, where the eye itself becomes painful and inflamed for an extended period, and dermatitis, a condition similar to eczema, where the skin around the eyes can become red, itchy, cracked and blistered. In more serious cases, a person’s face may swell up, their eyelids may close completely, and they may develop breathing problems. In such cases, immediate medical attention will be necessary due to the risk of potentially fatal anaphylactic shock.
Though eyelash tinting is a generally safe beauty treatment when performed by an experienced professional therapist, it can also cause severe injuries if the correct pre-treatment tests have not taken place, or if the tinting is carried out in a negligent manner. Beauty salon clients have a legal right to expect that their treatments will be performed in a reasonably competent manner. Where this has not been the case and injuries have been sustained, specialist legal advice from solicitors with experience of these types of cases will help an injured person decide whether a claim for compensation should be pursued.
Case Study 1
A recent client of Bartletts Solicitors experienced a painful and traumatic allergic reaction following an eyelash tinting procedure at a beauty salon that left her requiring hospital attention. Ms F was asked by her beauty therapist whether she had had the treatment carried out previously, to which the answer was yes, but was not subsequently not offered an allergy test, despite it being generally known in the industry that individuals can develop allergies at any point in time, as well as the fact that different eyelash tints contain different chemicals with the potential to trigger an adverse reaction. The morning after the procedure, Ms F’s forehead had swelled up, while her eyes were painful, red and itchy. She attended her local hospital walk-in centre, where she was prescribed hydrocortisone cream; her symptoms persisted for over a week, during which time her eyelashes fell out and she suffered from blurred vision and conjunctivitis.
Ms F later returned to the beauty salon to explain the situation, but having been offered a gift voucher which seemed wholly insufficient given the ordeal she had gone through, she decided to seek legal advice. Our firm went on to represent Ms F in a no win no fee compensation claim against the beauty salon and its parent company. An expert medical opinion indicated that Ms F had most likely experienced a reaction to para-phenylenediamine (PPD) contained in the dark shade tint that was applied to her eyelashes. A simple skin patch (allergy) test would have determined that she was sensitized to PPD, and hence the likelihood of an adverse reaction to the eyelash tinting product. The beauty therapist and salon had therefore acted negligently in failing to carry out this essential test, which was the direct cause of Ms F’s physical injuries and emotional distress. Following an admission of liability, our client received £4,250 in compensation.
Case Study 2
Ms R booked an appointment for an eyelash tinting procedure at her local beauty salon. As she had never had an eyelash tint before, she asked if she needed a skin patch test before her appointment, but was advised that she didn’t, as the salon had never had a problem with the treatment previously. Ms R’s eyes were itchy and streaming following the procedure, but the beauty technician told her this was normal, and would clear up quickly. When she got home and looked in the mirror, Ms R could see that her eyelids were swollen and her eyes were red. Her eyelashes later fell out. Ms R had suffered a serious allergic reaction to the eyelash tint, and was forced to seek medical attention and take 5 days off work recovering.
Ms R contacted Bartletts Solicitors for advice, and we subsequently represented her in a claim for compensation against the beauty salon’s owners. We wrote to them explaining that a skin patch test should have been carried out on Ms R, 24-48 hours before her appointment for the eyelash tint procedure. This was especially important considering she was a new customer. This test should have detected Ms R’s allergy to colour additives in the tint solution. Failing to perform the test was negligent on the salon’s part and had directly caused Ms R's allergic reaction. The salon’s insurers admitted liability, and Ms R received £2,800 in damages.
Case Study 3
A recent client suffered an allergic reaction and chemical burns from an eyelash tinting treatment at a beauty salon. Ms J was not offered a skin patch test (that should have been carried out 24-48 hours before the procedure), but was merely asked by the beauty therapist whether she had any allergies, to which she answered no. A patch test would have identified the fact that the eyelash dye was too strong for Ms J’s skin type, and that she had a pre-existing allergy to chemicals it contained. Ms J’s eyes were stinging within minutes of the dye being applied, and were weepy, burning and swollen afterwards. She was later treated with antihistamines and eye ointment by her local GP, but experienced blurred vision for the following 2 weeks, and needed help from family members with her young children during that time.
Ms J was angered and upset by the fact that the beauty salon’s manager refused to acknowledge responsibility for the botched eyelash tinting treatment, and later instructed our firm to begin a no win no fee personal injury claim against the salon’s owners. We wrote to them, highlighting the fact that their failure to carry out a skin patch test resulted in an eyelash dye product being applied to our client’s eyelashes containing chemicals that she was allergic to. The adverse reaction, swelling and chemical burns caused by the eyelash tinting procedure were directly caused by the negligence of the beauty therapist and her employers, in failing to carry out this essential pre-treatment test. We were able to win an admission of liability, and our client later received a cheque for £2,750 in compensation.