The 1-question you have to ask every customer before you bleach, wax, or laser

Before you bleach, wax, or laser, you must ask, ”Do you have a Celtic background?”

Why? Hold tight, you’re in for a ride.

The MC1R gene provides instructions for making a protein called the melanocortin 1 receptor. This receptor plays an important role in normal pigmentation. The receptor is primarily located on the surface of melanocytes, which are specialised cells that produce a pigment called melanin. Melanin is the substance that gives skin, hair, and eyes their colour.

Melanocytes make two forms of melanin, eumelanin and pheomelanin. The  amounts of these two pigments help determine the colour of a person's hair and skin. People who produce mostly eumelanin tend to have brown or black hair and dark skin that tans easily. Eumelanin also protects skin from damage caused by ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight. People who produce mostly pheomelanin tend to have red or strawberry blonde hair, freckles, and light-coloured skin that does not tan. Because pheomelanin does not protect skin from UV radiation, people with more pheomelanin have an increased risk of skin damage caused by sun exposure.

The melanocortin 1 receptor controls which type of melanin is produced by melanocytes. When the receptor is activated, it triggers a series of chemical reactions inside melanocytes that stimulate these cells to make eumelanin. If the receptor is not activated or is blocked, melanocytes make pheomelanin instead of eumelanin.

Certain genetic variations are most common in people with red hair, fair skin, freckles, and an increased sensitivity to sun exposure. These MC1R variations or polymorphisms reduce the ability of the melanocortin 1 receptor to stimulate eumelanin production, causing melanocytes to make mostly pheomelanin.

Beauty therapists have a duty, an obligation to their clients to explain the incidence and relevance of the MC1R gene in the clients genetic history. Please ask every client –Do you have a Celtic background ?you are asking ; Do you have an English ,Irish ,Scottish or Welsh connections in your family history?

The client that says “Yes” is your “Red Flag” client. This client will not respond favourably to any Heat For Example ; Laser , IPL , Lip waxing , any waxing , bleaching ,electrolysis,  full head scalp bleaches with their hairdresser , rigourous exfoliation , microdermabrasion , setting masks, hot facial towels from the Hot Cabinet, steam treatment , hot body wraps , nor the sun !

Do ensure you are asking this of your entire waxing, laser, IPL clients, electrolysis ,facial clients and those that attend your hairdressing colour section of your salon. Any process or in-salon treatment that creates or requires heat is a target. Have protocols in place to explain skin reactions and healing processes as well as a comprehensive take home skin care regime. Our ‘Red Flag ‘clients need take home notes and advice on their post treatment care. Professionally you are bound to provide these notes and to record that you have given them to your client with the accompanying explanation. If you are a large organisation you could have an intranet service for your clients or place them on you website for ease of review.

You will then place a follow up call or text to your client two days later.

You can see how very important it is to complete your skin consultation and identify these fair skinned young people in your salons and inform them that they are genetically the “most at risk group for malignant melanoma”, a type of cancer most attributable to UV. However, they often don't realise the extent of the risk so please explain the eumelanin and pheomelanin physiology to them.

 Thereafter discuss the “Red Flag” concept that explains their very poor relationship with UV in the Sun. Your major question is then; what sunblock are you using every day of the year?

Advise your client to focus particularly on those zones that are constantly exposed to sunlight UV rays.

By insisting on the use of a physical sunblock every day of their lives thereafter, you will become part of their team assisting them in ; “Saving Face”.

Written by Margaret Walsh .