Americans spend billions of dollars on our hair. We shampoo, brush, braid, cut and comb it. Our locks are gelled, moussed, sprayed and blow-dried. Occasionally, our mane coiffed, quiffed and occasionally fluffed. That’s a whole lot of hair care.
But do some of our ’dos endanger our health?
The problem lies in a substance used in many products applied to hair, like gels and sprays. A recent paper from scientists at Purdue and Indiana universities says animal studies show that the substance, siloxane [SI-lok-sayn], accumulates in the body. The compound, which gives hair a shiny, less-frizzy look, has been shown to cause liver, lung and nervous system damage in animals.
Few human studies, however, have examined their long-term health impact.
Scientists worry that products containing siloxanes might be especially dangerous when applied in a confined space. With heated styling tools, the compounds get into the air and the lungs more easily.
The study’s authors recruited volunteers who went through their normal hair-care routine in a lab space. The researchers measured air contamination while participants styled their hair.
Emissions of siloxanes soared in the enclosed space when a styling tool was used at its highest heat setting. They were also present when no heat was applied. Using the bathroom fan dramatically lessened air contamination but did not eliminate it.
The researchers say an investigation of the long-term health impacts of siloxane products is urgently needed.
The study points to the need to do your hair grooming in a well-ventilated area. Open a window. Use a fan.
Don’t make that beehive a buzzkill.