CHICAGO, IL, March 27, 2009
--/WORLD-WIRE/-- America’s Beauty Show, March 28-30 in Chicago, is
dedicated to safe and healthy beauty salons. By doing so, the Show raises
serious and decades overdue concerns on the dangers of conventional
Salon products are generally dispensed from bulk containers
without labeled ingredients. Of particular concern is the cumulative
contamination of air, particularly in poorly ventilated salons, with volatile
ingredients and fine particles, particularly from hair sprays. Known as
aerosols, these can penetrate deeply into the lungs of clients, and even more
so their stylists working a usual five-day week.
Products used in the great majority of nationwide salons
contain a wide range of toxic ingredients, including carcinogens, hormonal
ingredients, and allergens. Exposure to them poses hidden dangers to clients,
and much more so their stylists.
Stylists, particularly in small hair and beauty salons, tend
to drift in and out of their jobs. So formal long-term studies to investigate
dangers to their health, known as epidemiological, are not feasible.
Moreover, there is substantial and long standing evidence on a wide range of
toxic effects in salon workers, particularly hairdressers and beauty
stylists. These include nausea, sleep disorders, fatigue, and numbness and
pain in the fingers. They also include allergic dermatitis, acute lung
irritation, asthma, and chronic bronchitis.
An additional poorly recognized danger from salon and
personal use relates to hair straighteners based on thioglycolic acid.
Besides causing hair to become brittle and break, they can also irritate the
scalp and cause pustular and allergic reactions.
Of particular concern are hair dyes. About 35 percent of
women and 10 percent of men are regularly exposed to these dyes in salons or
by personal use. Black and dark brown permanent and semi-permanent dyes contain
carcinogens, particularly those known as phenylenediamines. These have been
shown to cause cancers, particularly non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, Hodgkin’s
disease, and multiple myeloma, besides breast and bladder cancers. However,
in spite of this long standing evidence, stylists, let alone their clients,
remain unaware of these avoidable risks of sometimes lethal cancers. In sharp
contrast to the U.S., these dyes have been banned in Europe.
The continued use of these dangerous hair dyes is all the
more reckless. Safe certified organic dyes, particularly those marketed by
Logona, a German company, are now available in the U.S. These dyes achieve
stable and long-lasting colors, ranging from brown to black.
A recently recognized concern relates to the potent carcinogen
vinyl chloride, a propellant in some pressure sprays, which has been
incriminated as a cause of fatal liver cancer. Another recent concern relates
to hormonal phthalates in sprays to which pregnant women may be exposed, and
have been incriminated as a cause of congenital abnormalities in their male
infants. Of critical importance is the protection of clients and, even more
so, their stylists by establishing efficient ventilation of salons, and their
workstations. The efficiency of this ventilation should conform to certified
Information on all ingredients in all products used in
salons, including their risks and recommended safety precautions, should be
detailed and made readily available to all stylists in standard Material Safety
Data Sheets. This information is legally required by the Occupational Safety
and Health Administration for all workplaces with ten or more employees.
However, this requirement is observed more in the breach than the
performance. This information should also be made readily available to
Pressure sprays should be banned. They release very fine
particles which are readily inhaled into the depths of the lungs and can
irritate and cause toxic effects. Pump spray products are very much safer as
their particles are at least tenfold larger, and large enough to be filtered
out through the nose. Polyvinyl pyrrolidine, a common ingredient in hair
sprays, is designed to increase smoothness and flexibility of the hair.
However, it can cause chronic lung damage and should be banned.
Finally, eyeliners, skin lightening creams, and some brands
of mascara used in salons, besides being available for purchase in beauty
supply stores, contain mercury as a preservative. However, even small doses
of mercury accumulate and can cause neurological damage following long term
For more information contact:
Samuel S. Epstein, MD
Chairman, Cancer Prevention Coalition
Professor emeritus Environmental & Occupational Medicine
University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health
(Author of Toxic Beauty, 2009, BenBella Books)