You may frequent a nail or hair salon for a haircut, dye job, manicure or pedicure. But if you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic asthma or another chronic lung condition, the salon environment may have triggers that can lead to a flare-up.
Salon products like hairsprays, hair dyes and nail polishes contain chemicals and fragrances that can irritate the airways and cause respiratory symptoms.
Keep reading to learn more about the hidden dangers in salons and how you can protect yourself on your next visit.
The “Toxic Trio” Of Chemicals
Dibutyl phthalate, toluene and formaldehyde are called the “toxic trio” of chemicals found in several hair and nail salon products.
- Dibutyl phthalate – is a chemical in nail polishes and nail hardeners that can irritate the respiratory tract.
- Toluene – is a chemical in nail polishes and fingernail glues that can irritate the lungs and respiratory tract. Toluene is also linked to the development of asthma.
- Formaldehyde – is a chemical in nail polishes and nail hardeners that can cause coughing, trouble breathing and asthma-like attacks.
Along with the toxic trio, salon products may contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs), bleach, ammonia and strong fragrances.
Any of these substances can induce respiratory symptoms like coughing, wheezing, nasal congestion, throat irritation or shortness of breath when you breathe in the chemical fumes.
Over time, repeated exposure to hazardous chemicals could increase airway inflammation.
How To Protect Your Lungs In Salons
Many nail and hair salons are not well ventilated. Fumes, fragrances and emissions can linger in the air and you continue to breathe them in through the duration of your visit.
Look for a salon with a well-ventilated work area to reduce your exposure to toxic fumes. If you have COPD or asthma that is sensitive to chemical triggers, consider wearing a face mask when you go in for an appointment.
One of the biggest roadblocks to protecting your health in nail and hair salons is the lack of regulation for salon products. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not require cosmetic and salon ingredients to undergo safety testing before products appear on the market.
And manufacturers are not required to list all ingredients on product labels. You (and your stylist) may not even be aware of all the chemicals you are coming into contact with.
Before you make an appointment for a color job or manicure, ask if the salon uses eco-friendly, natural, organic or safer products.
Christine Kingsley, APRN is the Health and Wellness Director at the Lung Institute where she focuses on providing helpful online resources for people looking for information on various lung diseases, breathing exercises, and healthy lifestyle choices. She advocates for holistic care that involves working with your doctor to explore all options including traditional and alternative care while focusing on diet and exercise as proactive measures.