Hair-raising tales from the salon

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Sloppy scissor work by "cowboy'' stylists is spreading fear through salons across Britain as more and more customers are emerging with the wrong coloured hair - or sometimes no hair at all.

Ministers are coming under increasing pressure to introduce mandatory control of the industry following hundreds of injuries and a number of legal actions.

As well as those who have suffered burns to the scalp, neck and face, many have endured hair loss, and some have gone completely bald.

One woman from Hackney, east London, received £2,500 compensation for a perm that left her with bald patches. Another won £40 damages after her hair cut made her look like "a cross between a hedgehog and a squaddie".

The Hairdressing Council received up to 3,000 complaints from dissatisfied customers last year. The profession wants legislation to replace the existing voluntary registration scheme.

John Byrne, of the Hairdressing Council, said: "There are people out there who are quite simply cowboys. All you need is a comb and a pair of scissors to call yourself a hairdresser.'' Carol Walker, an independent trichologist, believes the problem is getting worse. Among her clients are a woman who needed four days of hospital treatment for severe swelling of the face caused by a chemical reaction to dye; one who needed a hair transplant to cover a bald patch caused by a scalp burn following perm treatment; and one who had to visit casualty after bleach was allowed to run into her eyes.