Beauty salon workers include hairstylist, makeup artist, nail technician, esthetician, colorist, cosmetologist, barber, stylist, masseur, and receptionist. A salon worker can fill many roles.
Salon workers are often exposed to dangerous chemicals that can lead to skin, eye, and respiratory tract irritation, as well as some serious illnesses and even death.
Many products used in salons have been deemed safe for clients, however, there has been little research on the health consequences for salon workers. Below, I’ve shared my findings.
The ingredients in salon products of most concern are:
- Ethyl acetate
Studies have shown that salon workers have up to 10 times the concentration of many of these chemicals in their bloodstream compared to the general population. The consequences of such a situation are usually not apparent for years. Complications can arise long after the person is no longer working with the chemicals.
Salon workers are also exposed to a number of infectious agents due to their work in close proximity to their clients.
Skin and eye conditions commonly seen in salon workers:
- Skin and eye irritation
- Eczema – especially of the hands and forearms
- Herpes 1 & 2
- Staphylococcal skin infections
- Hepatitis B & C from pedicures and manicures
- Fungal nail and skin infections
- Exposure to STDs during waxing
Exposure to products containing endocrine disruptors can cause:
- Low birth weight and premature babies
- Birth defects – eg cleft lip/palate
- Respiratory diseases
- Occupational asthma more common due to exposure to acrylic nail filings
- Reduced lung function – especially in hairdressers and nail technicians
- A chronic cough
- Nasal congestion
Cancers – Salon workers have an increased risk of developing the following types of cancers:
- nasal passage
- Multiple myeloma
- Hodgkin’s disease
- Salon workers often get headaches at work
- Many report dizziness and difficulty concentrating
- Depression – often reported by those who texturize hair
- Dementia, especially in nail technicians and hairdressers
- Motor neurone disease, especially in hairdressers
- Lupus and cirrhosis of the liver are more common among nail technicians
- Uterine fibroids, especially those working with relaxers
- Prolonged standing increases the risk of venous insufficiency of the legs
- Pain in the neck, shoulders, lower back and knees
In order to reduce health risks for workers in beauty salons, it is recommended:
- Use less toxic products
- Workers use gloves and wear masks at all times while on the job
- Optimal ventilation of the work space
- Use pump sprays whenever possible, as opposed to aerosols
- Close the products well after use
- Dispose of waste properly in bins with tight fitting lids
- The cleanliness of the hands must be emphasized
- Use as little product as possible when performing services
- Research all products before using them. Many products labeled “harsh chemical free” or “formaldehyde free” were mislabeled.
- Use only trusted products from trusted sources.
- Salon air filters should be replaced in a timely manner
- Improve the training of salon workers regarding the correct handling of products
- Continuing professional education is encouraged
- Government institutes import restrictions on toxic products from beauty salons
Author contact details: Dr C. Malcolm Grant, Family Care Clinic, Arnos Vale, [email protected]1(784)570-9300 (Office), 1(784)455-0376 (WhatsApp)
Disclaimer: The information provided in the above article is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Please consult a medical professional or health care provider if you seek medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Dr. C. Malcolm Grant, Family Care Clinic or The Searchlight Newspaper or their associates, respectively, are not responsible for any risks or problems associated with using or acting on the information provided.