Stylists as Health Advocates: How the Hairdressing Industry is Changing Society's Health Behavior
Countless studies have shown that ingredients such as phthalates and parabens are linked to hormone-related issues and breast cancer in women. Widely used in cosmetics, these chemical groups can penetrate the body and disrupt the balance of the hormones, potentially stimulating the growth of cancer cells.
But despite widespread awareness of these cancer-causing ingredients, many personal care products still use them due to lack of regulation. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require beauty brands to seek approval before they go on the market, so millions of consumers who buy these products are unwittingly exposing themselves to various potential health problems.
In the last decade, however, many Americans have become more conscious of the products they use. This is due, in part, to the increasing number of professionals who demand safer, cleaner cosmetics, such as hairdressers and salon owners. So it’s not surprising that mindful clients look to none other than Hair Stylists not only to get their hair done but also to seek advice on beauty products.
Being in the business of beauty, cosmetologists’ knowledge on products go beyond the surface. They know that being surrounded by chemicals daily can have adverse effects on their health. In fact hairdressing is known as being one of the most toxic careers, and Hair Stylist health problems like cancer and fertility issues continue to increase. Professionals know the only way to prevent illness is to arm themselves with information and non-toxic products, and this knowledge needs to be passed on to the client.
Salons: The New Health Advocates
While there’s no replacing doctors and clinics as primary healthcare providers, salons have become trusted venues for promotion of health behaviors in the US, according to a study and program headed by the National Cancer Institute.
Because they are more accessible than doctors and well-informed in health-related topics, hairdressers (especially Holistic Hair Stylists) enjoy a level of trust from their clients which gives stylists access to information not readily available to people outside the beauty community.
In addition, women regularly visit hair salons (more often than they visit their family physician), providing more opportunities to discuss their health and lifestyle.
In fact, over the years, barbershops and salons have helped and encouraged many clients to get screened for breast cancer, prostate cancer and high blood pleasure.
As a Holistic Hair Stylist, what can you do to promote health and wellness within your space?
1. Use products that contain the least amount of chemicals. Hair Stylists work with chemicals, day in and out. While there are no 100% chemical-free salons products that work at a professional level, there are many non-toxic options in the market that you can use, such as ammonia-free hair color from Oway and Original & Mineral.
2. Minimize your use of plastic in the salon. Plastic contains the chemical called Phthalates, which have been linked to breast cancer and hormone issues. This chemical can leach into hair products and find its way into our system. Opt for glass containers instead – they preserve the formula of the product and does not leach harmful chemicals into it.
3. Avoid synthetic fragrance. Aside from containing phthalates, many companies sneak other chemicals in this ingredient and disguise them as fragrance.
4. Find out where product ingredients come from. While it’s great that natural beauty products are becoming popular, chemicals like pesticides and chemical fertilizers used in growing ingredients can find their way into our system as well. We highly recommend purchasing professional organic salon products to be safe.
5. Partner with your local health department and organize screenings. This will not only establish you as a health advocate in your community, but you also get to help clients take charge of their own wellness. You could be saving lives, and that in itself is already a tremendous accomplishment.
6. Learn to have thoughtful discussions on lifestyle and health. As Hair Stylists, sometimes having a discussion on healthier lifestyles is avoided because you don’t want to be “too preachy.” However, there’s thoughtful and informative ways to have discussions with your clients on their health and wellness.