Why Patch Testing is So Important

Patch tests and their importance, are a topic we get asked about on a very regular basis. This applies to Hair and Brow services. So in this blog post, we hope to dispel a few colour myths and answer all your questions as thoroughly as possible.

Patch Tests in the hair Industry, are extremely important to carry out, and if a salon doesn't ask you to come in to have one before an appointment, this should ring alarm bells with you. A common misconception is that because you've had colour for years and years, you're covered and do not need a patch test. Unfortunately, this is incorrect. Every colour brand is different, with different ingredients so if you're new to us you certainly need one. But the even bigger misconception is that if you keep up with regular 6-week applications, you don't need one before your next. Again, incorrect. The fact is, we can all build up intolerances to any food or any product for a multiple of medical reasons or for no particular reason at all - at any time. So without being medical professionals, the only real tool at our disposal, to safeguard your health, and our business, is a patch test, before every single colour application.

So what is a patch test?
A patch test is a tiny dot of colour, most commonly placed behind the guest's ear at least 48 hours before their colour service. The point of it, is to see if you are adverse to the colour or any of the ingredients in it and will, therefore, have a reaction.

What will a reaction look like?
A reaction will most commonly feel like a burning sensation, may blister, and if it does you must wash it off straight away and notify us asap. Some people react straight away, and some may react perhaps 24 hours later. Regardless, it will mean we cannot apply colour directly to the scalp. If you have a patch test and are unsure if you have had a reaction, you can always contact us anytime to discuss your concerns.

How regularly do I need to have a patch test?
Every salon handles this one differently, but many more and more, are taking the course of action that we are. Going forward, guests will be asked to come in 2-3 days before every Colour service, regardless of how recently you may have had your last colour service, to have a patch test, which takes 2 seconds. As explained above, we have to perform one this regularly, because anything can happen in the time in between your last service. Things such as pregnancy, menopause, illness or new courses of treatment or medication, can quickly cause a new intolerance. But more unpredictable than that - a severe intolerance can happen anytime for no specific reason at all. So regular patch tests have to be carried out by us, for this reason.

How often do we see people react to colour?
It's definitely rare, but it does happen. So it's absolutely worth keeping up with regular patch tests before each application.

How severe can a reaction to colour be?
The tragic truth is that an adverse reaction to colour can cost you your life. Some reactions can be milder than others, but we think you'll agree that it simply isn't worth running the risk. Taking two minutes out of your day to pop in for a quick test before each application, is a small inconvenience in comparison to the worst case scenario.


We hope our guests will now understand the vital significance of having a patch test before each colour service and can appreciate why we have to be as firm on this as we are. We need peace of mind for everyone's sake that any service we provide for you is safe, and this is the only way we can do so.

Thanks for reading!


The True Cost of Box Colour

Finest Pigments by Davines is 98% naturally derived and can be a great alternative to box colour and even colour damage. 

Finest Pigments by Davines is 98% naturally derived and can be a great alternative to box colour and even colour damage. 

We’ve all done it. Whilst being swayed in the hair products aisle of our local boots, a new hair colour has caught our eye and after much shade deliberation, it’s made its way into our basket. Now, if we take a moment to really think about box colours for a second, the problem with them is glaringly obvious. 

I’m blonde, and I walk into Boots and pick a beautiful glossy red. It looks fabulous on the model, so why wouldn’t it look fabulous on me? Dina or Lacey, who are both brunette, can walk into Boots and pick up the exact same shade of red. Yes, the little charts on the back give an indication of what the end result will be on dark or light hair, but have any of you actually had success with those charts? I thought not.

The thing you’ll hear time and time again in Blushbar is that everyone’s hair has a history. Coloured, not coloured, bleached, not bleached, porous, not porous, lighter at the roots or lighter on the ends than the roots, the list can go on and on. The amount of variables you can be dealing with is almost unfathomable for the amateur hair stylist to think about when home dying. Yet, every single one of those things has to be accounted for before we can chemically change the colour of your hair.

It’s easy to forget, your hair colour changing is a chemical reaction of products. For a box colour to act as a “one size fits all” thing, is completely impossible. You have to start questioning the type of chemicals they put in this colour, in order to lift it, or do whatever it is claiming it can do, for every hair type. Think about that for a second. 

One person may need one developer, and another may need one not as strong to reach the same outcome, because your hair has a history and will be entirely different in each individual case. 

This is why box colours are so bad-because they can’t possibly cater for everyone’s individual hair, so it’s highly likely you’ll end up with properties on your hair that you didn’t need; peroxides used that are much higher than you actually needed. Regardless of whether it reaches a good outcome or not, it will end up drying your hair out over time. And very often, it won’t reach a desired outcome because it couldn’t cater to your specific hair, which just makes it all even worse. 

For a qualified stylist to correct a botched box colour attempt, or even just to remove box colour in order to place professional colour, a bleach bath may be involved. Firstly, a lot of people groan because they don’t want bleach on their hair; there’s no denying bleach can have a slightly detrimental effect (Hello Olaplex!). But also, as stylists, we can’t entirely predict how that bleach bath will react on colour that isn’t professionally used, because we don’t know what’s in it. We can’t promise an outcome straight away, or how long it will take to reach a desired outcome, because we don’t know how the bleach will react. We therefore have to tread exceptionally carefully.

The moral of the story is, while you may get an “ok” result, or passable result with box colour, it’s adding to your hair history. This will make good hairdressers tread very carefully around you when it comes to a professional colour job - you’ll certainly need more time in your initial visit and it will be classed as a “colour correction” rather than a straight colouring appointment.

It’s always best to be honest with your hairdresser if you have used a box colour, rather than try and hide it. There are some telltale giveaway signs of box colour that hairdressers will see the moment bleach or colour hits your hair, so honesty is always the best policy. 

Whatever you’ve done, you will not be the first, we promise.

Colour options for box coloured/damaged hair
• Bleach Bath to get rid of the box colour as much as possible and start on a clean base. 
• Gloss Colour (lasts about 12 washes) this can boost natural colours in a non-harming way. We use Davines Finest Pigments which is 98% natural ingredients. 
• Highlights/Low Lights of any kind- these can mask any banding that you have from box colour. It may take a few attempts to get rid of a warm halo of colour entirely, but highlights are great at blurring the line of demarcation. 
• Olaplex Treatments - we would suggest using Olaplex if you're using bleach. We recommend Olaplex on any hair, whether healthy or damaged, to stop the bonds in your hair breaking when bleach is used. 

Davines - a new found love.

As many of you know, I travel a lot for work and there's nothing I love more than walking into American beauty boutiques like Sephora or Ulta and asking the sales reps what their favourite hair products are. 

The sales reps are heavily on a store-wide commission in the States, which means they are not tied to any particular brand, so they tend to sway towards the products that truly work so they gain your repeat business. It works exceptionally differently to the UK, we would never find service like that in the likes of Boots or Superdrug; we would never have a named rep with whom we gain a rapport and discuss our hair woes with. Working this way, means they get a fascinating insight into not only the best products, but the products the customers are coming back in and buying again and again (which means repeat, easy commission for them). 

I walked into a well-known store in Soho, New York and was greeted by a totally new haircare range. The packaging was striking to my graphic design eye and I picked up some bottles and did what I always do; turned the bottle over to read the ingredients. To my surprise, I didn't find the normal muck found in store-bought shampoos. As I was reading, a very enthusiastic sales rep came over and started raving to me about the range, eloquently called Davines. 

She explained to me that the range followed the slow-food movement, with many ingredients in the shampoo coming from Italian farms where the ingredients are grown by family-business farmers. The farm the ingredients come from, is even printed on the bottle. She explained that all the girls had been converted to their shampoo and won't touch anything else. My skeptical nature got the better of me, I thanked her for her time and went about doing some detective work. 

I spent an hour around the store, gradually getting to talk to each employee and bringing Davines up into the conversation. Each one was able to tell me the shampoo they used from the range, why and how much they instantly could tell the difference to other shampoos and conditioners they had used in the past. I looked at the price list and decided, it was worth a shot - as I love being able to bring back the latest in haircare, to Leigh-on-Sea.
n.b. We were the very first salon in the whole of the UK to be approved for Living Proof two years ago, however, the moment M&S got a contract for it - it went from being an exclusive range only previously sold in Space NK to a supermarket style brand. This wasn't going to cut it for us any more. 

The following morning, I was eager to use my new products (Love Shampoo and Conditioner as the sales rep said "it leaves your hair soft as butter") and see if they really did live up to the hype. Well, I can honestly say I was stunned - the sales reps were right, there was an instant difference straight out of the shower. My hair no longer felt knotty when trying to comb it through when damp, blow drying was a breeze and yep, my hair was indeed, soft as butter. The most noticeable difference was how the conditioner was a texture of almost putty, a super-thick consistency that didn't slide off my hair when my hair was damp in the shower, but clung to it instantly. The scent was pretty amazing too. 

Fast forward to now - we were able to contact Davines in the UK, who already have savvy salons and the British Hairdresser of the Year under their belt, and we were lucky that they decided to let us become part of the Davines family. We've just completed a two day switchover to be an entirely Davines salon - including colour. We're all totally sold and as always, it's not about what we can sell to you, because honestly, no salon in the world could sustain itself from product sales alone - it's about truly giving you honest advice for your hair type and gaining your trust that we truly just want you to have the most healthy, beautiful hair that you can have. 

We'll be sending everyone away with samples of the shampoo right through to New Year, because we know you won't believe us until you try it for yourselves. Pop in, anytime - and we'll give you a consultation on what would be best for your hair. You can also see a full breakdown on our website of what we use in the salon and what shampoo and conditioner is best for what purpose or contact us via Messenger on Facebook for an online consultation and we'll point you in the right direction. 

If you're still wondering if this is marketing hype, see thousands of unbiased Google review links below: 
NouNou Shampoo Review
Love Shampoo Review
Minu Shampoo Review
Momo Shampoo Review

Post written by Sarah

Lauren's Hair Extension Makeover

Before and After

Before and After

Lauren came to us knowing that she wanted hair extensions to bulk out her shorter hair style. After an initial consultation Lauren went on holiday, we agreed we would complete her colour once she returned from holiday, so that we could accurately match the new bond colours and ensure vibrancy of colour throughout. We put 100 bonds in Lauren's hair, using three different colours to achieve a natural blend. We halved some bonds and fused them together in Caramel and blonde colours to give a subtle lift of colour throughout, while creating a base of her gorgeous chocolate brown colour. 

Lauren didn't want her extensions "too long" so we kept them at the length most ladies like if they are a fan of curling their hair - just sitting above boob level. This ensures that when you curl your hair, you still have volumous bounce and when you leave it to dry naturally, it's still long and thick enough to cover any gaps between your natural hair and the hair extension. 

With regular maintenance and checkups at Blushbar, Lauren can expect her extensions to last anywhere between 4-6 months. 

If you've been thinking of having hair extensions, our hair extension consultations are free. We're happy to chat to you about all the different types and the pitfalls and advantages of each. Swing by and have a coffee with us to discuss yours. 

You can book your consultation online, at a time convenient to you, no need to enter a valid credit card for this one, just go to the button on the right and select "Hair Extension Consultation". 


Prom/Bridesmaid Hair - The Folded Ballerina Bun

The Folded Ballerina Bun. 

The Folded Ballerina Bun. 

You all loved Part 1 of our Prom+Bridal hair series, here's part two. The folded ballerina bun, as shown here by our stylist, Emma. 

Perfect for grecian-style dresses and dresses with ornate detailing around the collar. As always, we're a flat-fee salon, all hairup is priced at £35.00 with wash, blow dry and styling services at £22.00 with 24/7 online booking available.  

Prom/Bridesmaid Hair - The Sophisticated Down-Do.

The Sophisticated Down-Do

The Sophisticated Down-Do

As it's coming up to Prom and Bridal season, we've been busy coming up with some fabulous styles for our guests at Blushbar. We'll be sharing one a week, for the next month or so, showing you what we're made of and inspiring you along the way. At Blushbar, we tend to prefer more natural looking styles, rather than tight corkscrew curls, traditionally seen at Proms. We love textured, lived-in, natural looks, and you'll see this throughout our work, over the next few weeks. 

We've also created videos of our stylists at work. They're all under a minute long and should give you a real flavour of what each style looks like in the flesh. 

We're a flat-fee salon which means we're £22 for a wash, blow dry and style, and £35 for hair up. No matter what length hair, we're always flat-fee. 

So, we're kicking off with Holly, our lovely model seen above, sporting our "Sophisticated Down-Do" as created by our stylist, Louise.