Hair salons are a place where we can sit back, relax and beautify ourselves, right? Wrong! Executive Editor of Women’s Health Amy Keller Laird sheds light on some of the shocking dangers of hair salons and tells us how you can stay safe while still getting the ‘do you are after.
FACT: Keratin-Smoothing Treatments
Keratin-smoothing treatments can lead to breathing problems and nosebleeds. These treatments have recently taken off as a miracle treatment for frizzy manes. The in-salon service infuses the hair’s cuticle with the protein keratin, a natural component of hair, to fill in any gaps along the strands that are dry or damaged, which causes a frizzy effect. The problem: Many formulas contain the chemical formaldehyde — a known carcinogen — to modify the keratin proteins so hair stays straighter longer. Some salon keratin formulas contain an alarming amount of formaldehyde– 12 percent — surprisingly, even some labeled formaldehyde-free. Formaldehyde interacts with proteins in your body’s cells, which can cause allergies or asthma. Stylists and customers have reported nosebleeds, breathing problems, and eye irritation after using formaldehyde-containing products.
TIP: Ask your stylist to check the solution’s label for potentially harmful formaldehyde alternatives like methylene glycol, formalin, or methanal.
TIP: Don’t get Brazilian Straightening Treatment. If going in-salon, look for big companies that follow the letter of the law. Try a place that stopped using formaldehyde treatments and is offering a safer alternative. If the salon is doing the treatment in a separate room or glass cube or either you or the technician has to wear protective gear or a safety mask, there’s likely something hazardous, no matter what the marketing materials say. If the salon treatment claims to straighten hair for three to four months, chances are it contains dangerous ingredients.
TIP: At Home Products. There are a new generation of products that aren’t traditional Brazilian straighteners. They smooth the hair versus totally straightening it. Products that are on infomercials and shows like HSN or QVC are likely vetted by third parties or have research to back up their claims because they have to follow strict television rules. KeratinEarth is an effective product you can do at home. John Frieda Frizz-Ease 3-Day Straight Spray is really impressive. It contains hydrolyzed keratin that makes your hair sleek and smooth. You spritz it on and flatiron, and stays smooth for three days or until you shampoo.
FACT: Trimming Your Ends
Trimming your ends does not speed up the hair growth process. The idea is awesome, but unfortunately it is not true. The fact is, cutting the hair doesn’t make it grow faster—it makes it shorter. True, getting rid of the split ends can make your hair look healthier and add bounce, but as far as growth goes, the average rate is 1/2 inch per month, and no number of regular salon visits will change that. Hormonal changes, however — seasonal or pregnancy-related — can affect the speed of growth. So good to remember, hair is not alive, it’s dead skin cells.
TIP: Biotin supplements may help stimulate hair growth. Many studies have been performed on nail growth and the keratins in both are similar so many dermatologists believe that a large dose of biotin can strengthen hair and possibly promote growth. These supplements must be taken regularly and won’t yield results for a few months. A reputable brand is Elon Matrix 5000.
Depending on the type of extensions you have, the person putting them in, the type of hair you have, and how you care for them, extensions can lead to Traction Alopecia, a type of hair loss where the root of the hair is stressed and literally breaks off. This tends to happen more in African-American women when the extensions are woven into the hair super-tightly and they’re using a heavyweight weave. Traction Alopecia tends to happen most where hair is finest/weakest, which for all women is in the crown and front of the hair by the temples.
TIP: If you have fine hair, the best solution would be fine-hair extensions that won’t weigh your hair down, but these are super-expensive, often thousands of dollars. Your best bet on the cheap is something like Hair U Wear, which are temporary clip-ins, and the clip-ins distribute the weight of the hair evenly. If you do have salon extensions, be sure to care for them properly by using the special brush they give you (kind of like a wig brush) and getting upkeep every six weeks—when they start to grow out, they can weigh hair down even more.
BONUS! Before you Get a Massage
FACT: Just because a massage therapist is licensed doesn’t mean you’ll be getting a fantastic massage. Licensing is based more on theory than on hands on technique.
TIP: Do your homework!