I have a friend who periodically has to clean out retail space that hosts a conventional hair salon. My friend describes the experience as "awful." The fumes left over from the chemical perms, dyes, and hairsprays leave him with burning, irritated eyes, sinuses, and throat. In short, it makes him sick for a few days after he has finished cleaning the salon.
A closer look at the chemical soup that comprises the beauty industry reveals a host of ingredients that poses a threat to anyone who regularly uses the most ordinary of hair care products, nail polish, and cosmetics. Here are some of the most problematic chemicals used in conventional beauty products:
Most people have some experience with the toxic qualities of ammonia. Commonly used in cleaning products for decades, ammonia is a caustic toxin that can cause both short- and long-term lung damage in only a brief period of exposure. Exposure to ammonia fumes over a long period of time can lead to permanent damage to the respiratory system.
Curiously, dyes with ammonia often do not perform as well as those without ammonia. Because ammonia damages hair protein, it also damages the hair's capacity to "hold" color.
Formaldehyde is a controlled substance on the ingredients list of a variety of professional grade hair care products. Although restricted by U.S. law to concentrations below 0.5%, a number of products - particularly from Brazil - have appeared in salons with concentrations as high as 7%!
Symptoms associated with exposure to formaldehyde include hair loss, watery eyes, skin irritation, and respiratory infection. Some studies have linked long-term exposure to formaldehyde to cancer. But more research is required to determine the full effects of formaldehyde as a carcinogen.
DIAMINE TOLUENES (DTI)
My understanding of the chemical properties of DTI is limited to my recollection of high school chemistry. However, the Environmental Protection Agency has this to say about the dangers of DTI:
. . . Acute (short-term) exposure to high levels of toluene-2,4-diamine in humans has caused severe skin and eye irritation sometimes leading to permanent blindness. Other effects include respiratory problems, stomach gas, rise in blood pressure, dizziness, convulsions, fainting, and coma. No information is available regarding the chronic (long-term) or carcinogenic effects of toluene-2,4-diamine in humans. Chronic animal studies have reported liver injury.
Moreover, the State of New Jersey lists TDI as one of 11 "Extremely Hazardous Substances" whose accidental release into the environment "would produce a significant likelihood that persons exposed will suffer acute health effects resulting in death or permanent disability." (N.J.S.A. 13:1K-21(e))
SODIUM LAURYL SULFATE (SLS)
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, and its' cousin ammonia lauryl sulfate, is mild detergent and a widely known skin irritant. In fact, chemists regard SLS so highly as a skin irritant that they commonly apply the chemical to test subjects before testing another chemical for its effects on irritated skin. Studies have linked SLS to chronic skin hypersensitivity.
To be fair, scientists do not understand the effects of parabens on humans. However, one recent study in the United Kingdom found parabens in the cells of breast tumors. Although their analysis of 20 breast tumors found high concentrations of the parabens in 18 samples, the study could not conclude that parabens actually caused or even contributed to the cancer. Scientists do know that parabens can mimic the hormone estrogen, which is known to play a role in the development of breast cancer.
NATURAL CHOICES FOR SKIN & HAIR CARE PRODUCTS/SERVICES
The list of ingredients goes on. However, the common beauty product ingredients listed here represent some of the health risks associated with conventional hair care and skin care. If you have sensitive skin or simply wish to avoid exposure to unnecessary chemicals, you need to avoid the products containing these chemicals.
If you or anyone you know would like to find a supplier of beauty supplies that excludes these and other risky chemicals, the Natural Choice Directory is pleased to present the local suppliers of natural products: