The Case

The Claimant, who had a history of dermatitis, attended the Defendant's hair salon on 1st June 2007, with a view to lightening her hair colour, as it was dyed black.  She was anxious to ensure natural products were used due to her sensitivity and previous experience of dermatitis when dying her hair dark.

The Claimant was patch tested prior to the appointment, but on 1st June 2007 the stylist used different products on the Claimant's hair, rather than the natural products she had been expecting. The Claimant's hair did not colour as desired and the stylist applied a bleach product repeatedly to achieve the desired colour. After this was unsuccessful and the Claimant was left with discoloured hair, the stylist decided to dye the hair dark again, to attempt to cover up the discoloration, so the Claimant did not leave the salon with multicoloured hair.

 After leaving the salon, the Claimant felt her scalp and ears became red and swollen and her cheeks went red. The Claimant attended Kings College Hospital A & E department within 24 hours, where she was given a steroid solution and analgesics. 

The Claimant sustained contact irritant dermatitis with chemical burns and wounds to the scalp, with damage to the hair from excessive chemical processing. The Claimant's scalp continued weeping and remained pustular for 2 days.  The Claimant was left with cuts at the back of her head.

Over the coming weeks and months the Claimant suffered alopecia areata, being left with unsightly bald patches at the back of her head.  The Claimant took to wearing her hair up to hide the bald patches.

 The Claimant also suffered an adverse psychiatric reaction to the injuries and the resultant alteration in her appearance. She became anxious, irritable and depressed, with episodes of self-harm. The Claimant's psychiatrist expert advised she suffered an adjustment disorder with symptoms of anxiety and depression (DSM-IV). He recommended a course of cognitive behaviour therapy sessions with a clinical psychologist. 

 The Claimant's dermatologist confirmed she suffered acute allergic contact dermatitis and contact irritant dermatitis which was caused by skin exposure to chemicals at the hairdressers.  He confirmed the alopecia areata was triggered by the acute dermatitis. 


After issuing protective proceedings at Mayor's and City of London Court, an out of court settlement was eventually agreed for £8300.00.

The settlement was agreed on a global basis including £1500.00 for cognitive behaviour therapy sessions.

For the claimant: Daniel O'Keefe, Russell-Cooke LLP

For the defence: Lamb Chambers

The Court: Mayors & City of London County Court