The Potential Risks of Hairdressing

Time and time again I’ve come across it in the workplace, a new trainee starts and is loving the job, really enthusiastic about hairdressing and then they find out they are allergic to either the chemicals or something else used daily in the salon. This is because there are so many things that people can be allergic to in the salon.

Dermatitis can cause problems for lots of hairdressers, particularly when you are training as your hands are in water a lot more whilst shampooing, washing up etc. 

This can be really painful; it sometimes gets so bad that your hands can crack and bleed. The best thing to do is keep hand cream with you at all times and keep applying it at every opportunity. Also wear warm gloves because as winter approaches the cold weather makes it even worse. It does usually ease off when you qualify as a stylist but some people still find it a problem as we always work with chemicals and they do unfortunately affect some people rather badly.

Quite a few stylists suffer with leg strains and sometimes develop thread vein or even varicose veins. This is because of being on our feet a lot more than most professions. Health professionals recommend that we try not to stand still for long periods of time. If you were doing a full head of foils then it is recommended that you walk on the spot now and again whilst working to keep the blood flow moving. 

You might look a bit crazy but I just tell my clients why and have a laugh at the same time as it’s certainly better to try to prevent those nasty veins arriving than having to deal with them later! Also recommended is that we should sit with our legs slightly elevated whenever we have the chance to try to prevent them developing late on. So lots of relaxing in the evening with my feet up is the answer for me! Also another thing to be aware of is although those high heels do look lovely, they definitely won’t help with those veins in the long run!

As most hairdressers stand on their feet all day, it may come as no surprise that musculoskeletal disorders are also a common health risk for hair stylists. Not to mention, the posture required to cut and color hair is far from ideal.

Another common problem that some stylists develop later on is carpel tunnel syndrome; this affects the tendons and muscles in your wrist and can be really painful. It’s known to be caused by repetitive movements over long periods of time. The best way to try to prevent it happening to you is to make sure you have decent scissors that suit the way you cut. We shouldn’t use other peoples’ scissors as you have to find the right shape and style that you are comfortable with. You should also make sure you have them sharpened regularly because it will help you not to strain your wrists any further as you don’t need to apply so much pressure with every snip! Good quality is really important when choosing the right scissors, too.

Overall, working as a hairdresser can unfortunately have a big impact on your health. A study recently carried out in Australia found that hairdressers were most at risk of respiratory illnesses, musculoskeletal problems, skin conditions, bowel issues, and general poor health. It also found that hairdressers have been proven to need more fertility treatment than most other professions due to inhalation of chemicals over a number of years. This study also found that hairdressers also had problems later in life due to years of poor dietary and fluid intake caused by not having enough breaks! They concluded the study by recommending that we educate stylists about the health risks for the future so that they are able take precautions where ever possible.

All of the above can be really nasty things to have to deal with in later life therefore it’s always best to try and prevent anything as much as humanly possible. I know whilst you’re young you will be thinking it won’t matter yet but the earlier you begin to look after yourself and do your very best to prevent these things happening the more chance you have of keeping them at bay for longer and hopefully forever!

I hope I haven’t put you off! I know this has made hairdressing sound like we should earn danger money for all the risks but it really is all about being in the know. If you’re aware of the risks you can prevent anything that could potentially happen. 

Staying fit and healthy outside of work is vital because we all know that healthy bodies work far longer than lazy ones! Also remember to try to eat and definitely at least drink lots of water, even if you don’t get chance to have a break it is so important to at least grab a quick drink while your client is being shampooed. 

If you don’t have assistants in your salon then just excuse yourself for a min to grab a drink; I’m sure your client will understand the importance of staying hydrated! Most of it is common sense and once you are aware of the risks you should be able to have a long and comfortable career without too many health problems at all. I’ve survived twenty one years and haven’t experienced most of these things so far. I have tried to look after myself out of work as I recommended earlier and it seems to be working!

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