News and Features

Do hair care professionals need to be ventilation engineers, chemists and lawyers as well?

New products, new research and new legislation all mean new headaches for professionals trying to run their businesses and offer creative services to clients.

Two recent stories reinforce the challenges for the professional.

The first concerns the increasing popularity of hair straightening and smoothing processes, for example the much-publicised Brazilian Blowout products. First an American manufacturer was fined for not identifying that their straightening products contained formaldehyde. Exposure to formaldehyde is associated with certain types of cancer and the chemical can only be used in very diluted forms.

Then a study in an American scientific journal identified dangers to the health not just of clients, but of hair and beauty professionals as well, when they use straightening products. Studies were carried out on the air quality in salons using the products. Concentrations of formaldehyde were found that were well above safe levels, and which caused watery eyes, breathing difficulties and nose bleeds in hair workers. The study called for proper engineering controls like exhaust ventilation to be installed in salons to overcome the problem.

The other story comes courtesy of Mike Patey at the Hairdressing and Beauty Supplies Association. He recently issued a note to members alerting them to a problem in the new EC Cosmetics Regulation. The new rules, which came into force on 11th July, exclude the use of oxidative colouring products for colouring or tinting eyelashes. This was quickly seen as a problem for the industry, and the EC technical authorities have rushed out a draft amendment which would permit the use of oxidative hair dye and hydrogen peroxide at specific concentrations for the professional colouring of eyelashes. It’s hoped this would come into force after a consultation period which ends in October.

As if it wasn’t challenging enough to carry on providing a great service to clients these days, at this rate it looks like we may also have to become a combination of ventilation engineers, chemists and lawyers to keep up.