Why Salon Chemicals May Cause Cancer?


Do you know what a hairdresser does?

Hairdressers have been working for generations to maintain hair color.

They want you to know all the truth about their job.

Hairdressers and cancer are topics few people want to discuss.

They work with toxic chemicals all day, and It is hard to know if they are safe or not.

But it is true that they use chemicals in the salon environment.

Wouldn’t you want to know whether your hairdressers are more likely to get cancer?

What are the chances of a customer developing cancer at the same time?

Hair dye myths

Hair dyes used before 1980 contained tar-like compounds.

Women who used these dyes had a higher risk of bladder cancer than those who didn’t use hair dye at all!

Toxic chemicals found in tar-like compounds also cause cancer in mice.

Cosmetics companies had no choice but to find new ingredients for darkening hair.

Many studies have been done to find out if there is a link between using chemicals near your scalp or fingertips and getting cancer.

But most of these studies are not helpful because they do not say for sure if there is a link.

Conflicting results from research organisation.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer evaluated hair dyes in 2008 and concluded it was carcinogenic to humans.

In a study done by the Yale School of Public Health published in 2002, researchers found no strong link between using hair dyes over 10 years with cancers like uterine, breast, ovarian or skin melanoma.

The findings of a new study published in the BMJ medical journal have revealed that women who use hair dye do not experience an increased risk for most cancers or dying from cancer.

The research was conducted on 117,200 female nurses at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

At the start of this 36-year long study, none of these females had any form of cancer.

They were simply followed throughout time with no knowledge of higher risks associated with using hair dyes over a prolonged period.

Why researching hair dyes is problematic.

Studying the latest hair dyes is a tricky business.

They are composed of thousands of different chemicals, and it can be hard to keep track of which ones are safe for humans and animals alike!

The subject has been controversial since 1978, when some carcinogens were found in those earliest formulas, – thankfully their use was phased out by 1980.

In 2017, Health Day News reported that black women who use dark hair dyes are at a higher risk of breast cancer.

This study found that black women using darker shades were 51% more likely to be diagnosed with the disease than those in lighter hues.

That’s because chemicals from these products can enter and invade skin cells.

In one of my earlier posts, I mentioned that synthetic chemicals like hydrogen peroxide, ammonia, parabens and PPD are still being used in some hair dye products.

These ingredients have been found to cause damage to your scalp, while also damaging the environment.

Hair dyes claiming to be 100% natural have these harmful ingredients mixed with organic products as a marketing ploy.

There is no official governing body on how much each ingredient should be and what percentage they should make up.

This means that even if a product says it is all natural based on percentages, it might not be any better than using synthetic dyes in high concentrations.

Work of a hairdresser

For years, the hairdresser has been a staple in society.

These professionals help people stay beautiful, and they help with upkeep.

It’s important to appreciate what they do, but also how often these people are exposed to chemicals like hair dyes, shampoos, hair straighteners, etc., which can be toxic if used without protection.

Hairdressers spent days in an enclosed environment full of chemicals.

Exposure to these can have negative effects on hair and skin, so salon owners must take measures like installing exhaust systems for ventilation or using safer products as much as possible.

Even when the owner takes all precautions, they never know what reactions their customers will experience, because everyone reacts differently from different things!

As a customer, you should think about the health and safety hazards your hairdresser faces, which could be biological hazards or contracting infectious diseases.

There is very little regulation to ensure their safety and wellness; so spare some thought for them on your next visit.

Is this occupational hazard acceptable?

When you are inside of one of these salons, people should not be concerned about your haircut or style.

You should only be concerned about the air quality.

Air toxicity can come from harsh chemical substances such as acetone, ammonia and methyl methacrylate; all found within many beauty products on shelves.

Today, you have the added products of permanent wave solution (perm), acrylic nails product liquid formaldehyde for use between manicures/pedicure treatments, etc.

All are toxic chemicals!

Proper ventilation is crucial 

Besides your favorite hairdresser having to face these harmful and irritating products, you, the customer, are in the same boat.

Air-conditioning units sometimes lack proper ventilation, leading to a buildup of these hazardous materials, which creates an unsafe environment for employees and customers.

The hair salon industry needs a major shakeup. With the help of medical professionals, volunteer groups and others in positions to influence governments.

We need better laws and best practices that protect both customers and workers alike.

The future of the industry

The hairdressing industry is changing, and to keep up, they need to be innovative and look at it from a holistic health perspective.

In addition to traditional methods of hair dyeing & styling, consumers are using digital media like social networking sites for marketing and conducting online courses.

Technology has made it easier for beauty brands to sell their products.

They can do this by selling them on their website or through an app, which is better for customers who want more information and don’t want to buy harmful ingredients.

Hairdressers should consider embracing this new age by incorporating these technologies into their businesses, so they can stay ahead of trends and provide more value when providing services to their customers.

The future of hair care products will be better, because new rules are designed to protect consumers and end-users.

As the market for natural, eco-friendly beauty grows, more companies are investing in creating safer options.


Many hair dyes have chemicals that cause breathing difficulties.

These are called PPDs. They can get on your skin, or breathe them in if they come out from an aerosol can.

These aromatic diamines can cause cancer cells to form on both internal and external parts of the body.

It may seem harmless because it affects only one person, but how about people who use these products daily?

What can you do to help?

It’s up to consumers like you and me to voice our concern with government bodies and non-profit organisations.

One organization is Women’s Voices For the Earth.

They are a nonprofit environmental organization that fights for women’s health and safety.

They pressurise manufacturers who use unsafe ingredients for their dyeing processes until it becomes an industry-standard practice worldwide.

There is no one size fits all solution, and you should do a little research before choosing what type of natural hair dye will suit you best.

Leave a comment if you want more information about hair products.

If this post has been helpful, share it with friends.


Curly girl – the handbook (say no to shampoo & chemicals)  

Homemade hair care – 34 natural toxic-free by Donna Nolan

International Journal of Epidemiology – the risk of cancer among hairdressers and workers


Disclosure: Just a Heads Up: My posts may contain affiliate links! If you buy something through one of those links, you won’t pay a cent more, but I’ll get a small commission, which helps keep the lights on. Many thanks!

Disclaimer: These statements are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease. They are for information purposes only. They have not been evaluated by the FDA. If you suspect that you have a medical condition, seek help from your doctor.

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