Prevent allergies in the hairdressing industry
By Lene Stiil, co-founder, AllergyCertified
The hairdressing profession loses the most, compared to the other professions, at least when it comes to how long you typically work in your field. It becomes no more than eight years on average and that includes the time being a student. We just repeat – Eight years.
Almost half of the hairdressers simply stop doing their profession. They put down scissors and combs, and if they are lucky, they start another educating. About half of them stops due to the eczema and allergies caused by chemicals. It is not only alarming but also stupid and completely unnecessary.
We have visited the newly opened ZENZ salon in Roskilde, where Cecilie Bendix Schaarup-Jensen is the manager. Cecilie talked to AllergyCertifieds toxicologist Ewa Daniél about allergies and hairdressers.
Why do hairdressers get allergies?
Ewa: We typically see this happening when hairdressers are working every day with products, which still contain Methylisothiazolinone (MI) or Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI) or products where the Nickel content is high.
Cecilie: I started getting symptoms pretty quick after beginning my training. After struggling with itching and red skin for a long time, I went to the doctor, where they could not help me, so I got an appointment with a dermatologist for a patch test. It showed that I am allergic to exactly those substances - MI, MCI and Nickel.
Which symptoms should one be aware of?
Cecilie: For me, it started as itch, typically on my legs and arms. My eyes would also be very watery. It is very annoying and uncomfortable.
Ewa: I am often asked if there are any warnings on skin allergies. Like, can you see if there is something on the way and then stop using a certain product before it’s too late. Unfortunately, you can’t. What happens is, that the skin becomes sensitized without the body actually reacting allergically. And once you have been sensitized to a substances and subsequently encounter the substances again, the allergic reaction comes. Therefore, we always talk about prevention, as it is relatively straightforward to prevent skin allergies.
What can you do as a hairdresser or hairdressing student to prevent getting allergies?
Ewa: I think the most important thing is to use products that do not contain allergens. In addition, it is crucial to wear gloves to avoid direct skin contact.
Cecilie: During studying to be a hairdresser, we are also told that it is important to wear gloves. Nevertheless, I have heard several stories that in some places there are restrictions on the number of gloves and one is therefore encouraged to use the gloves several times.
Ewa: That makes no sense at all, because the more you use a glove the higher is the risk that allergenic substances will come through the gloves and then make contact with the skin. That's completely wrong.
Is occupational allergy also a challenge when you are not working?
Cecilie: Yes, I have to avoid the substances I am allergic to. I have to it whether I am at work, at home or visiting family and friends.
Ewa: Various studies have shown that your quality of life decreases if you get allergies. This is mainly because you are afraid of passing the allergy on to others - which, as noted in parentheses, is not possible. Or you are embarrassed about your skin when you have an allergic rash. And also, because you are often reminded several times a day that you have a chronic illness, because you have to think about whether you expose your skin to the substances you cannot tolerate. Therefore, it is so much better to prevent the allergy and avoid getting it, than to have to live with it for the rest of your life.
Cecilie: I can only agree. I think, it is so important that we talk about allergies in the hairdressing industry and the chemicals we are exposed to.
Around 27% of the adult population is allergic to one or more substances. Skin allergy is a chronic disease. Anyone can develop skin allergies and anyone can prevent skin allergies.
AllergyCertified was founded in 2014 by two Danish women and the organisation has some of the strictest health criteria on the market. For example, the products are not only evaluated on the basis of allergens, but also checked for whether there are classified endocrine disruptors or carcinogens in the products. AllergyCertified has certified approximately 1500 products. So far.
ZENZ Organic Hairdressing is the largest green hairdressing chain in Denmark with its own salons and product line. ZENZ Organic Products is a complete line of exclusive salon products based on natural and certified organic ingredients of the highest quality. The products are used by professional hairdressers around the world and a large part of the products are AllergyCertified and called Pure. Find all Pure products here.