Have You Asked for the Tat Chat With Your Haircolorist?

Share Article

Susan Maccoy, expert cosmetologist, states in her white paper, "Tattoo - Hair Color Alert". There is a dangerous combination of cosmetic hair dyes and tattoos that is a pervasive, growing risk to American consumers including rashes, mild to severe allergic reactions and more.

Susan Maccoy,CFLC Expert Witness:Cosmetology

Clearly it pays to “think before you ink.” “That means every cosmetology salon customer must have the “Tat Chat” every time they go in for a dye-involved service,” Maccoy said.

Tattoos. They’re everywhere . . . on all body parts, in all social circles. Body art has simultaneously achieved both celebrity and mainstream status . . . and simultaneously created a serious health risk.

Today, more than 45 million Americans sport at least one tattoo. And for a large percentage of people with tattoos, they also engage in salon treatments involving dyes . . . and are unknowingly putting their health at risk.Tattoos. They’re everywhere . . . on all body parts, in all social circles. Body art has simultaneously achieved both celebrity and mainstream status.

“It’s the public health hazard that no one is talking about,” says nationally-renown cosmetology professional and legal expert witness Susan Maccoy.

“As the popularity and prevalence of tattoos have grown, public safety education about dyes in the body has not,” said Maccoy. “Most consumers don’t know the combination of hair dyes and body inks pose a very real health risk – including rashes, mild to severe allergic reactions, scalp injury, scarring, blindness, anaphylactic shock, and more. It’s a clear public health risk.”
More information in depth visit the White Paper at

Maccoy stressed every consumer needs to have what she calls the “Tat Chat” with their practitioner before initiating any salon treatment that includes dyes or additional tattoos.

The “Tat Chat”, according to Maccoy, already is standard protocol in cosmetology training. In addition to practitioner training, the steps are outlined on all professional and consumer hair color dye packaging, per FDA mandate. “It’s the dirty little secret in the industry that practitioners are brushing off this protocol and conducting dye-based salon hair color treatments on customers. This protocol ensures safety for those that have either permanent or temporary tattoos,” Maccoy said. She added that consumers performing their own dye treatments at home need to be aware and self-test as these same warnings appear on consumer packaging, as well.

Many may think that since they’ve had salon hair dye treatments while already tatted that they must be safe now. Not true, says Maccoy. These combination interactions have a latency factor, so just because the procedure goes seemingly without event, it does not mean that the reaction won’t manifest during a later treatment.

“Just because you’ve had a dye-based treatment, such as hair coloring, before doesn’t mean you won’t have a reaction this next time,” Maccoy stressed. “Similarly, if you already have a tattoo, it doesn’t mean the next one will go without reaction. Now, if you combine the two, you take on a more complex level of risk for a negative reaction.”

Maccoy also cautioned parents, citing the popularity of allowing children to have temporary tattoos because they’re perceived as “safe” when the latency factor for future medical ramifications is in full play.

Clearly it pays to “think before you ink.” “That means every cosmetology salon customer must have the “Tat Chat” every time they go in for a dye-involved service,” Maccoy said. She outlined the specific steps for the Tat Chat and resulting test procedure.
First and foremost, initiate the Tat Chat. Make sure your practitioner is made aware that you have a tattoo or any other dye-related treatments. Think beyond hair to include brows, henna tattoos, lashes, eyeliner, and tattoo lip color.

A competent hair stylist will then take the following steps before proceeding with the scheduled beauty service:

  • Have a thorough, fact-based conversation with the customer about the dangerous combination of tattoos and dye-based salon treatments.
  • If the customer wants to proceed, then a “patch test” must first be conducted. A patch test is a limited, test exposure of the planned chemicals with the customer’s skin.
  • The practitioner will select a test area behind one ear extending into the hairline or at the inside bend of the elbow, cleanse the area with mild soap, and then dry the patch. Then the planned chemical/dye solution is applied to the test area with a sterile cotton swab.
  • The area should be left undisturbed for 48 hours.
  • If any redness, swelling, burning, itching, or blisters appear, the customer is allergic and under no circumstance should proceed with the procedure. If the procedure is done despite these results, the customer is in medical danger and the practitioner open to a lawsuit.
  • If the patch test does not result in any visible signs of negative reactions by the customer’s body, then the service can be administered.
  • Before the customer leaves the salon, the practitioner should very clearly tell the customer what warning signs they should look for. Should a customer experience an adverse reaction to either the patch test or resulting procedure, they should seek medical help immediately.

As tattoos continue to grow in popularity and their size grow on the bodyscape, so, too, do the medical dangers. “Until there is a dramatic breakthrough in the adherence of cosmetologists following protocols to avoid dangerous combinations of inks, consumers are going to have to be diligent about having The Tat Chat every time they’re in the salon”, Maccoy warned.

Press Contact:
Susan Maccoy



Maccoy is an award-winning hair artist, image consultant, beauty educator, expert witness, and consultant to the hair care, beauty salon, and spa industry. As an educator, Susan Maccoy has taught and lectured nationally and internationally.

She has rendered product testing and consulting services for such companies as Clairol Professional, Inc., Helene Curtis, Glemby International, Alberto Culver, Nancy Flynn Marketing Resources Inc., and Restore Products. Maccoy is the winner of the Clairol Hair Fashion Award, Glemby International's Outstanding Achievement Award, and Today's Chicago Woman Reader's Choice Award.

Maccoy has been featured in magazines such as Vogue, Women's Day, Redbook, Teen Magazine, Modern Salon, Miami Herald, Chicago Tribune and many others. In addition, she is the author of "Down the Shampoo Bowl - The ABC's of Hair Salon Management".

A world-class expert witness and consultant, Maccoy is a Certified Forensic Litigation Consultant [CFLC] and a Professional Member of the Forensic Expert Witness Association ~ FEWA. Her engagements encompass the full range of cosmetology procedures, policies, and salon management, product liability, and standard of care in the beauty salon and spa industry plus matters involving product development, product liability, professional liability, and employee and consumer injuries.

Expert Witness Profile - Forensic Expert Witness Association~FEWA

Expert Witness Profile - Consultant Profile Experts.com

Expert Witness Profile - Juris Pro

Visit the White Paper at

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Susan Maccoy
Visit website