Always apply the Colourstart patch test at least 4 days before any colouring process. This is because PPD sensitivity sometimes causes reactions which may not appear until 4 to 5 days after application.

Colourstart is not recommended for anyone under the age of 16.

For further instructions on how to use Colourstart:


Select a clean, dry, intact area of skin to apply the patch. The patch should be applied only to healthy skin that is free of acne, scars, dermatitis or any other condition that may interfere with the test results. Avoid placing the patch on areas of the skin where creams or emollients have been applied as these may affect how the patch sticks to the skin.

Step by step

The instructions and diagrams below relate to the use of the patch on the upper arm.

Figure 1

Wash your hands before applying the patch. Peel open the foil pouch and remove the patch. Remove the tab marked “1” from the surface of the patch while taking care not to touch the patches (see Figure 1).

Figure 2

While holding the patch at the edge with your fingertips place it on the upper arm (above the elbow but below the shoulder) where you will be able to see the test results.
The patch should be smoothed from the centre to the outer edges (see Figure 2).

Figure 3

The second tab, marked with a “2” should then be removed (see Figure 3) and the patch smoothed from the centre to the outer edges (see Figure 2).

Once the patch is in place you will see one patch marked “A+”, which is the active patch containing PPD and one clear patch marked “A-”, which is the control patch with no PPD allergen.

You should wear the patch for at least 48 hours without removing it.

If you experience any symptoms of discomfort or there is a noticeable difference in how your skin looks or feels in this 48 hour period, remove the patch and wash the area gently with water as it may be a positive result.

DO NOT apply hair colorant. Talk to your pharmacist or doctor if you are at all unsure.

After 48 hours remove the patch and look at the skin underneath. If you see any sign of redness, inflammation or tiny blisters, you may be allergic to PPD and should not apply hair colorant. For further instructions on how to use Colourstart refer to the Patient Information Leaflet (PIL).

If a severe patch test reaction develops which is seen as intense redness with large fluid filled blisters, talk to your doctor immediately. DO NOT apply hair colorant.

If no positive test result is seen, continue to look at the area for a further 48 to 72 hours to see if there is a change in the skin.
There should be no visible differences in the two patches marked A+ and A-.

If you see a reaction to Colourstart, DO NOT apply hair colorant. You may suffer a worse reaction. You should seek medical advice from your doctor or pharmacist.

Colourstart works by showing if you are likely to be allergic to PPD only and will not detect if you might be allergic to other ingredients in hair colorants. The absence of a reaction following use of Colourstart does not guarantee a safe hair colour treatment, but by following these safety instructions, you can minimise risk.

Do not use Colourstart if you

  • suspect or know that you are allergic to PPD or any of the other ingredients of this medicine
  • have active dermatitis on your skin (e.g. redness, swelling, itching)
  • have previously experienced an allergy to hair colorant
  • are pregnant or breast-feeding
  • are taking oral or topical steroids or immunosuppressant medicines
  • have a black henna tattoo, or had a reaction to a black henna tattoo

Still Unsure?

Contact us now for help.


DO NOT perform the “Allergy Alert Test” as instructed on hair colorant packs in addition to using Colourstart.
Colourstart is a medicine and should only be used by the intended person. If anyone else applies the patch to their skin, or you apply more than one patch, remove as soon as possible and wash the area gently with water.



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Help and advice

Here you can find lots more useful information and advice on who should use Colourstart and how it should be used.

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Colourstart Test 65mcg Cutaneous patch. Contains p-phenylenediamine (PPD). A screening test for allergy to hair colour (PPD). Always read the label.