It is quite shocking the number of women who have visited our clinics for consultations explaining their horrendous experiences at certain hair salons and the resulting hair loss they have suffered.
There is a general lack of oversight by most governments on products used in hair salons and which contain a number of hazardous chemicals that may harm your health. Also, most salon workers lack basic understanding of the products they use and in most cases have not been properly trained in their application.
There are several products used in salon services such as hair dye, wig glue/hairpiece bonding, hair extension glue and lace wig glue. These products contain some extremely toxic chemicals which can be very dangerous for your health. Some of these chemicals are toluene, styrene, trichloroethylene and dioxane to mention a few.
Toluene is a clear, colourless liquid with a distinctive smell. It is a good solvent (a substance that can dissolve other substances). Toluene occurs naturally in crude oil and in the tolu tree. It is produced in the process of making gasoline and other fuels from crude oil and in making coke from coal.
Toluene may have an effect on your nervous system (brain and nerves). Nervous system effects can be temporary, such as headaches, dizziness, or unconsciousness. However, effects such as uncoordination, cognitive impairment, and vision and hearing loss may become permanent with repeated exposure, especially at concentrations associated with intentional solvent abuse.
Styrene is primarily used in the production of polystyrene plastics and resins. Acute (short-term) exposure to styrene in humans results in mucous membrane and eye irritation, and gastrointestinal effects. Chronic (long-term) exposure to styrene in humans results in effects on the central nervous system , such as headache, fatigue, weakness, and depression, hearing loss and peripheral neuropathy.
The main use of trichloroethylene is in the vapour degreasing of metal parts. It is also used as an extraction solvent for greases, oils, fats, waxes, and tars, a chemical intermediate in the production of other chemicals, and as a refrigerant. Acute (short-term) and chronic (long-term) inhalation exposure to trichloroethylene can affect the human central nervous system, with symptoms such as dizziness, headaches, confusion, euphoria, facial numbness, and weakness.
Dioxane is a clear colourless liquid with a faint ethereal odour. It is also used as a solvent. Acute (short-term) inhalation exposure to high levels of dioxane has been shown to cause vertigo, drowsiness, headache, anorexia and irritation of the eyes, nose, throat, and lungs in humans. It may also irritate the skin.
The extent of the inherent dangers of these chemicals depends on the frequency of interaction with them. While a salon customer may only be exposed to small quantities of these potentially hazardous chemicals during their short visits, a salon worker on the other hand is constantly exposed to these chemicals on a daily basis in the course of their work.
Salon workers who have experienced breathing problems, headaches, skin rashes, or other health problems while at work should consult their doctors and insist that their employers provide them with safer alternative products or provide them with precautionary items to protect their health. Long term studies of salon workers have also reported higher risks of chronic conditions, including certain cancers, immune diseases, asthma, and higher risk of some birth defects in their children.
While the salon customer may be at a lesser risk than the salon worker, we have witnessed some cases where the former have suffered irreparable scalp damage and total baldness. In some extreme cases, the customer has suffered from health conditions occasioned by their visits to the salon.
Salon customers can take certain precautionary steps such as insisting on studying the products and checking the chemical components. Ingredients in salon products can sometimes be found on the product label, although manufacturers are not required to fully list all ingredients in products sold for professional use.
If you have recently visited a salon and have developed serious itchiness on the scalp, you need to consult either a dermatologist or if you are experiencing hair loss, you need to consult a hair restoration consultant before it is too late and irreparable damage sets in.