SA Hair Severely Damaged by Qualified Hairdresser - What Can I Do?

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16 December 2014
I'm assuming some people will laugh at what I'm about to say but I need to know if I can possibly take this anywhere.

I had a hairdressing appointment last Thursday and long story very short, had my scalp burnt by bleach by what I was told at the time was a fully qualified hairdresser - which she was, although apparently had made many mistakes, and has since been fired. It was difficult to get a refund from the salon despite the fact that she made such a huge mistake (which they're obviously aware of as they fired her?) and burnt my scalp, which is now missing hair and has also completely ruined the rest of my hair which after all that doesn't even look like I've been to the hairdresser.

I know some people will probably think I should just get over it but I don't pay hundreds of dollars to get burnt and lose sections of my hair that may never grow back due to scarring.

If someone can lead me in the right direction under Australian Consumer Law, that would be really appreciated, thank you.

Sarah J

Well-Known Member
16 July 2014
Melbourne, Victoria
Hi EllJay23,

I'm very sorry this has happened to you. It must have been a terrible ordeal.

As to what options you can take, it really depends on what you are seeking.

1. If you are seeking your money back, you're advised to speak with the hairdressers directly and see if they're willing to do this. If not, you can make a complaint to the Consumer and Business Services SA as they offer free assistance in resolving disputes between consumers and businesses.
2. If you are seeking compensation on top of a refund, you might need to the Magistrates' Court in SA (for small claims) and initiate legal proceedings against the hairdresser business or hairdresser directly. Oftentimes, if you do this, or threaten this, they will be willing to negotiate a settlement.
3. If you would like to lodge a complaint, see if there are any hairdressing associations the business belongs to. Also, take a look at any relevant ombudsman or authorities who can help you in lodging a complaint against the business or in assisting you with your dispute: ACCC Industry ombudsman & dispute resolution


Hi Elljay23,

If you decide to take this further in terms of compensation - or at least threaten to as suggested by Sarah, you will need to weigh up the damage you have suffered - the injury, embarrassment and costs - against the financial and emotional cost of court proceedings.

I know of one matter where a young girl suffered very bad burns as a result of having colour foils and then being placed under a heat lamp. The burns she suffered were oozing and later became ulcerated requiring surgery. She was left with an area of her scalp where hair would not grow.

The family made a claim against the hairdresser for negligently failing to consider the potency of the chemicals, the heat lamp and failing to check on the girl's scalp etc however the court did not have an opportunity to make a ruling on the matter, as the hairdresser didn't turn up to court and default judgement was awarded.

However - compensation for injuries of that extent were assessed by the court to be in region of $40,000.

It doesn't sound as though your injuries are quite as bad as this, but if you are thinking about taking this further there are steps you should take as soon as possible to establish and prove your case.
  • Seek medical advice as soon as possible to ensure no further harm is done and gain an initial prognosis
  • Make sure the salon is aware of what has happened to you
  • Keep a diary of your condition, including any pain/ irritation levels and other effects you have experienced as a result of your reaction
  • Make a record any losses or payments you have incurred as a result of medical bills or further hair dressing bills to fix the damage.
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Reactions: DennisD and Sarah J