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Hairdressing / Client Care

Maintaining Client Care in the Hairdressing Salon

There is more to caring for a client than just getting them a coffee with a smile. Many factors must be taken into consideration to maintain your client’s happiness and general well being. The consultation process is the first step to understanding what your client wants, the kind of lifestyle they lead and the condition of the client’s hair and scalp. The client can then be advised and given good guidance to the services that can be offered or indeed not offered.

Adverse Hair and Scalp Conditions

Adverse hair and scalp conditions may influence shampooing, conditioning, colouring and perming by forcing the hairdresser to inform the client of their hair, skin or scalp condition and either proceed with caution or advise the client to seek medical advice.

For example:

  • If a client has a small cut on their head, the hairdresser would inform the client before proceeding with the shampoo and take special care not to inflame the area.
  • If a client was fount to have head lice, the hairdresser would tactfully inform the client and advise the client to seek medical advice and return when the infestation is cured.

Looking out for adverse hair and scalp conditions is all part of maintaining client care.

Head and Face Shapes

Head and face shapes may influence cutting and perming by forcing the hairdresser to advise the client on which styles would suit their particular face shape and compensate for any style which may not complement the clients face shape.

For example:

  • If a client has a square face shape, a hairdresser would advise a style that would compensate by rounding off the squareness of the face, enhancing the good features and disguising unwanted features.

But it's not just head and face shape that dictate the appropriate hair style that a client should have. The clients lifestyle is very important and should also be taken into consideration.


Lifestyle may influence cutting and perming by making the hairdresser aware of the clients needs and choosing a style in line with those needs.

For example:

  • If a client has a very athletic lifestyle and washes their hair on a daily basis, then a shorter style that can be easily managed and kept clean should be advised by the hairdresser.

Hair Growth Patterns

Hair growth patterns may influence cutting by forcing the hairdresser to be aware of how the hair naturally sits and to cut the hair accordingly or to rethink the style chosen.

For example:

  • If a client has a cows lick, a short straight fringe would be unsuitable, but a slightly longer fringe that falls naturally in the direction of the cows lick will complement the growth pattern.
See also hair growth patterns and cutting


Incompatibility of previous services and products used may influence cutting, colouring, perming and relaxing.

For example:

  • If a client has had a previous colouring treatment and wishes to change the colour to an extreme, the required colour may not be achieved due to the amount of processing required.

This over processing may damage the hair. Perm lotion and other chemicals that are applied to the hair might react to other chemicals used. An incompatibility test is used to detect chemicals that could react with hairdressing processes such as colour and perm.

Incompatibility Test Proceedure:

  • Use Personal Protective Equipment.
  • Place a small cutting of hair in a dish.
  • Pour a mixture of hydrogen peroxide and ammonium hydroxide on the hair (without bending over the dish).
  • Watch for signs of bubbling, heating or discolouration; these indicate that he hair contains incompatible chemicals.

The hair should not be permed or coloured if there are any signs of a reaction as this may discolour or break the hair and could burn the skin.

Recognising Infections

Suspected infection is when a client is thought to have an infectious disease such as impetigo or a fungi infection such as ringworm. By carrying out a full head and scalp analysis, these infections can be spotted.

  • Impetigo - caused by streptococci can be recognised by blisters on the outer epidermis of the skin which dry to form a yellow crust.
  • Boils - caused by staphylococci can be recognised by inflammation and the development of pus in the hair follicles.
  • Barbers itch - caused by staphylococci can be noticed by small pustules forming around each hair of the beard.
  • Ringworm - This will attack dead tissue of the epidermis and the hair shafts.
  • Tinea capitis - This can be noticed by pink patches on the scalp which develop into round, grey, scaly areas with broken hairs.

Read more about Hair Infections

Recognising Infestations

A suspected infestation is when a client is thought to be infested with insects like head lice or itch mites. By carrying out a full head and scalp analysis, these infestations can be spotted.

  • Head lice as adults, are grey and about 2mm long.Their eggs are called nits, they are white and about 1mm long. The eggs are fixed to hairs close to the scalp and are usually in the occipital region.
  • Itch mites as the name suggests, are very itchy and cause scabies. Their eggs are laid in folds in the skin and can be recognised as tiny red lines beneath the skin.

Pests and Diseases of the Hair and Scalp

Impetigo caused by streptococci.
Blisters and dry to form a yellow crust on the outer epidermis of the skin. The bacteria enters through a cut or abrasion. It is highly contagious, especially to children.

Boils caused by staphylococci.
Infects the follicle to produce inflammation and pus in follicle.

Barbers' itch (sycosis barbae) caused by staphylococci.
Infects follicles of beard. Pustules from around each hair. It is transmitted by the use of infected shaving equipment.

Cold sores (Herpes simplex).
Infects skin around nose and lips, forms red itchy patches which may develop blisters. This tends to be a life long condition which comes and goes.

Warts (verrucae).
Small growths, which cannot be cured but can be burnt off.

Head louse (pediculosis capitis).
Can be found on scalp at the nape or sides of the head. The louse is 2 mm long and causes irritation by biting the skin and sucking blood.Females lay eggs (nits) close to the scalp attached to a hair shaft. Pediculosis is treated by an insecticide.

Itch mite (sarcoptes scabiei).
This mite causes `scabies'. Usually infects hands and wrists but can spread over the whole body. Infection is spread by direct contact. Medical advice is necessary.

Face mite (demodex folliculorum).
This mite feeds on sebum and is associated with blackheads and hair follicles. It inhabits the eye-lashes, nose and chin. They are harmless and do not transmit disease.

This term covers the loss of hair. The most common type of alopecia is found in men and is usually hereditary.

Fungus attacks dead tissues of the epidermis and hair shaft.

Tinea capitis (scalp).
Pink patches, develop into round grey scaly areas, with broken hairs. It is highly contagious, spreads by direct contact, and is most common in children. Treatment by Griseofulvin.

Alopecia areota
Patches of clear scalp of various sizes. normally caused by shock or nervous conditions. treat with antibiotics and high-frequency treatment.

A greasy condition of the scalp. A good diet will help with this condition.

Seborroe oteosa
Extreme oiliness caused by over active sebacious glands. It is not infectious but is often related to other scalp conditions.

Skin Tests

An allergic reaction occurs when the immune system, which is the body's normal defence against dangerous foreign substances, mistakes a normally harmless substance for an invader, such as a virus. No one knows why this abnormal reaction occurs in some people and not others.

People who have this type of unusual immune system are said to be hypersensitive. About one in twenty-five clients have some form of reaction to tints and a number of semi-permanents containing either phenylenediamine or para-toluenediamine. Product manufacturers recommend skin tests before every tint application.

How to do a Skin Test

  • Mix a small amount of tint with equal parts of peroxide (the strength you intend to use)
  • Cleanse either the inside of the elbow or behind the ear with cotton wool and spirit (alcohol)
  • Place a small smear of tint on the cleansed area and allow to dry naturally or cover with Nu-skin. (collodion)
  • Advise the client to leave the patch alone until returning to the salon, unless it begins to irritate, when it should be washed off and calamine lotion used to relieve the irritation.

If a positive reaction occurs, do not allow tint to come into contact with the clients scalp.

Test Curls and Colour

To see if a clients, possibly over processed hair, can withstand a colour or perm, 3 or 4 small sections of hair can be coloured or permed as a test for possible breakage, incorrect colour or over elasticity.

Discretion and the DPA

Never talk about clients to other clients or staff and allow clients to talk to you in the strictest of confidence. If this is not up held, the reputation of your salon could be damaged.

For example:

  • You might tell client (a) that the client (b) before them had a bad case of ringworm recently. If client (a) were to mention to client (b), "I hope your ringworm cleared up ok." Then client (b) may not be too happy and refuse to enter your salon again. This type of publicity for a salon is not good at all.

As a registered data user with the DPA (data protection act) you must give a client full access to all personal data at all times. You must make sure that the information is correct and accurate because the client would have the right to obtain compensation if damage is suffered from inaccurate information. A client can also claim compensation for loss or unauthorised disclosure.

Next Page: Health & Safety