Research/studies Workplace exposures

Dyes, perming products pose risks to hairdressers: study

Lund, Sweden – The levels of certain carcinogens in hairdressers’ blood may be linked to how often they use permanent dyes and perming treatments on clients’ hair, according to a study from Lund University.

Almost 400 people took part in the study, in which researchers analyzed blood samples for eight potentially carcinogenic aromatic amines. Those included toluidines, which the European Union has banned in cosmetics because of their carcinogenic properties, researchers said.

Despite the ban, hairdressers’ levels of ortho- and meta-toluidines tended to increase in tandem with the frequency of weekly permanent light-color treatments that they applied. A similar pattern existed between ortho-toluidine levels and the frequency of perming treatments.

In addition to calling for further study, the researchers recommend several safeguards to help protect hairdressers from possible hazards, including wearing gloves when working with hair dyes or perming products. Hairdressers also should perform tasks in which gloves cannot be used, such as hair cutting, before moving on to dyes or perms.

The study was published online June 9 in the journal Occupational & Environmental Medicine.