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Last updated: May 07, 2021

What Would You Do: Bleaching Sensitive Scalps

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Advice From The BTC Community For Bleaching Sensitive Scalps

Itchy, burning scalps…a necessary evil for achieving the perfect blonde? Or are there measures you can take to prevent this from happening? One stylist reached out to us with this question:


“I have a client I have been servicing for eight years. For the last nine months I have been adding Splenda to her haircolor because she complained about itching after the service. It has been getting worse—she even takes an allergy pill before. After two months since her last appointment, I contacted her, and she said she can’t take the constant itching and being uncomfortable after. I only use 20-volume on her. I would love to get my longtime client back. Any recommendations?”


So what advice did the BTC Community (and trusted BTC experts) have to offer? Check out some of the best responses below.


Got a question? Send us a DM on Instagram!



Try These Color Lines  

“I had that happen with a client. I did my research and talked to supply house reps about what to do. I now use CHI’s Organics line for her base color (my regular line for her foils since they don’t touch her scalp) and she doesn’t have this happen anymore.” – Krystal Dawn


Schwarzkopf Professional ESSENSITY! I use it on all my sensitive clients or clients who have had allergic reactions. 100 percent white coverage and no smell at all!” – Fenerty Allen


“I have a client with the same problem. We switched to Wella Professionals Koleston Perfect Innosense and she’s fine. It’s hypoallergenic.” –Sharon Hatala


Redken Chromatics is my go-to for sensitive clients! Works every time!”- Jennifer Fowler


“I would suggest using a PPD-free color line. PPD is p-Phenylenediamine. It’s been used in haircolor for many years and is a prevalent allergen in patch tests…As technology changes, progressive haircolor companies have been able to develop lines that do not have PPD. I would highly suggest trying Kevin.Murphy Color.Me, Keune’s So Pure color line or anything from Alfaparf Milano…I would also suggest a patch test with multiple brands to see what works best for your client.” – RStafford Jeff


PRAVANA Hush [Scalp Comfort Solution] works GREAT for sensitive clients! I tried every color line I could get my hands on, but my longtime client would still break out everywhere the color would touch. I did a patch test using Hush and went back to her original color (Matrix) and she had no irritation at ALL!” – Melissa Beck-Colangelo


“I developed an allergy about 10 years ago. I use Antidot Pro [by Scalfix] on myself as well as my clients…I discovered this 2 years ago and can’t imagine NOT using it in my color!”
– Erin Gee



Lighten Off The Scalp or Don’t Lighten At All  

“Heavy highlight with whatever color she uses—that way the color won’t touch her scalp, and it looks the same. I’ve done it to clients who are allergic to color. No problem.” – Ann Ruble


“I would recommend only foiling the color into her hair. That way it’s not directly touching her scalp. It may be a longer process, but she definitely won’t have the itching.” – Samantha Burnette


“You are playing with someone’s life and health. Do not use anything on the scalp. Allergies can become life-threatening at any time.” – Crystal Richards Harren


“I had a client who I colored for years. Then she had a severe allergic reaction and her whole scalp swelled. She had developed an allergy to PPD. Another salon convinced her to let them color it again and she ended up in the hospital with anaphylactic shock. Don’t play around with the health of your client. She only does bleach highlights now. Off the scalp, no toner.” – Marla Johnson Miller


Consult a Doctor (It Could Be Something Else)  

“Please recommend that she see her doctor and get a referral to an allergist. They can do a panel to find out what ingredient is triggering it. Don’t risk a client’s health. There are absolutely times as a stylist you have to say no.” – Jenn Kidd


“I had a client who swore the color was causing her to itch. I recommended she get a blood test for other allergies and she found out she was allergic to wheat…”
– Jeannine Mangan


“Advise your client to seek out a medical professional. This may be one of many symptoms she is having due to a health issue. We see our loyal clients sometimes more often than our own friends and family. We are their advocates of good and healthy wellbeing as well as the health of their hair.” – Gana Schaefer


“Ask her if she’s gluten-intolerant. A lot of color contains gluten. We had a client who is gluten-intolerant, and once we changed brands, her discomfort subsided.”
– Dana Sereyko Schmaltz



Bonus! We Asked the Experts

What do celebrity colorist Justin Anderson, #ONESHOT winner for Platinum Shot of the Year, Maggie Hancock, and two-time #ONESHOT nominee for Transformation Shot of the Year, Jack Martin, recommend for sensitive scalps? Here’s what our bleach experts had to say.


Justin: “I tell my clients to not wash their hair for as many days prior to their service as they can. Natural oils on the scalp help to protect the head.”


Maggie: “I always use PRAVANA Hush Scalp Comfort Solution. I use a bowl and brush to apply, and it helps my clients’ scalps tremendously.”


Jack: “My secret? I add b3 to my scalp mixtures. This eliminates more than 70 percent of irritation. I also use L’ANZA Healing Haircare Cream Decolorizer, which is an oil-based, cream lightener that conditions and moisturizes the scalp while it works. You don’t even feel it!”