Researching Health Hazards for Hairstylists: Harebrained Idea?


If hair salons are at the center of the health and beauty industry, why would researchers study workplace health hazards for stylists? Just a wild hair, perhaps?

Some scientists in the UK looked at health risks for hairstylists, according to occupational medicine research in the Oxford Journals. Through interviews with 147 hairdressers who were given the chance to report symptoms, the team was able to document health issues associated with their work. The questionnaire extracted details such as whether symptoms were worse at work than at home, and if they improved on their days off. 

The study’s leaders recorded:

  • Demographics
  • Work history
  • Health training levels
  • Presence of respiratory, skin and musculoskeletal issues

The control group consisted of 67 women who were not employed as hairdressers. The median age of this group was 38 years. Researchers adjusted for age of the participants, number of years working and whether or not they smoked tobacco.

Of the hairdressers in the study, 86 percent were females, with a median age of 27 years. They were employees from 56 salons, two of which were chain businesses.


Some of the main symptoms experienced by the hairdressers in the study were musculoskeletal. They include the following work-related symptoms: 

  • Shoulder pain
  • Wrist and hand pain
  • Upper back pain
  • Lower back pain
  • Leg/foot pain

Both the hairdressers and the control group reported tightness in the chest, wheezing and general asthma symptoms, totaling 16 percent among the stylists and 17 percent in non-hairdressers.

A study of 60 hair salons in the UK showed more than one-third experienced dermatitis, the most common condition recorded. The scientists say it may be the result of using chemical products that include persulphates, ammonia compounds and cyanoacrylates.

The report acknowledges possible causes of workplace health risks for hairdressers, including hazardous agents:

  • Vapors
  • Solvents
  • Perfumes
  • Dusts


Unfortunately, researchers found that protective measures are used only after symptoms develop, rather than for preventive purposes.

Researchers observed that the training provided for most hairdressers doesn’t include health risks associated with the career.

“This study identified frequently reported musculoskeletal, skin and respiratory symptoms in hairdressers,” the report concludes. “This points to a need to develop training that not only deals with risk assessment but also informs hairdressers about the health risks of their work.”

A salon visit is supposed to be a relaxing experience, but knowing your hairdresser’s health is at risk makes it feel a little less therapeutic. Hopefully, instead of masking research results, scientists will tease out the cause of these workplace hazards. Then maybe they can iron out the problems by styling some prevention.


Photo credit: Ezra’s First Haircut by Andrew Seaman is licensed under CC BY 4.0

This article is made available for general, entertainment and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed herein do not necessarily reflect those of The Joint Corp (or its franchisees and affiliates). You should always seek the advice of a licensed healthcare professional.