Skin test before perm, hair smoothing or hair straightening

In the past few years the UK hairdressers heard a lot of the importance of skin testing before all colour applications. Major manufacturers and the federation have asked the colour technicians to skin test 48 hours before every colour application. L’Oreal launched a website www.becoloursafe.com to promote skin testing before colouring services.

I was wondering if there are any regulations for skin testing before perming, smoothing or straightening the services what I offer.

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I’ve checked with most major manufacturers in the UK and they do not recommend skin testing pre perm, smoothing or straightening services. After calling the National Hairdressing Federation they advised that they don’t recommend to carry or don’t carry out a skin test pre perm, pre smoothing or pre straightening appointments, however they strongly advise to contact the manufacturer to clarify their requirements.

Just in case I spoke to my lawyer who said I have to check with my insurers and see their requirements. My insurers do not need me to carry out a skin test prior the services I offer.

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If you a hairstylist I would recommend you to check manufacturers instructions and your insurers requirements regarding the need of carrying out skin testing prior perming, smoothing or straightening services. If you a customer and wish to have a skin test you should freely ask your technician.

IF YOU DECIDE TO CARRY OUT AN ALLERGY TEST, IT IS ESSENTIAL THAT YOU ALWAYS PERFORM AN ALLERGY ALERT TEST 48 HOURS BEFORE EACH USE OF A  PRODUCT, AS AN ALLERGY CAN DEVELOP SUDDENLY, EVEN THOUGH YOU HAVE PREVIOUSLY USED THE SAME PRODUCT OR ANOTHER BRAND.

To carry out the Allergy Alert Test, always follow the instructions supplied with your product.

HOW TO PERFORM THE ALLERGY ALERT TEST:

Remove earrings. Behind the ear and using a cotton bud, apply a small quantity of unmixed product /solution 1 and neutraliser in separate area/ product sufficient to cover an area of 1-2cm² (e.g. the size of a small coin).
Re-apply two or three times allowing it to dry between each application. Carefully reseal the product container and keep it for the application 48 hours later.
Leave for 48 hours without washing, covering or touching.
If during this period you notice any abnormal reactions, such as itching, redness or swelling in or around the test area, DO NOT APPLY THE PRODUCT.

IN CASE OF A REACTION DURING THE APPLICATION such as intense stinging, irritation, rash or burning sensation on the scalp, rinse immediately and discontinue use. If you experience shortness of breath, seek immediate medical attention. Before perming / straightening your hair again, consult a doctor.
IF, DURING THE DAYS FOLLOWING APPLICATION, itching, redness or, spots on the scalp or skin occurs, swelling of the eyes and/or face, blisters or oozing of the scalp and/or skin occurs, it is recommended that you consult a doctor.

Formaldehyde

Working with formaldehyde

I have been working with products containing formaldehyde since 2007-2008. Done many Brazilian Keratin treatments, visited Brazil numerous occasion , where I spent time in factories, done exhibitions, and talked and visited many manufacturers. Me and my team tested probably 50-60 companies products, launched our own brand and distributed Brazilian Keratin products. In the past years I’ve done extensive research, teached my technique internationally and been asked by many beauty editors on my view on Formaldehyde. I know many stylist and customers who loves the effect of Formaldehyde, I am neither supporting or condoning using such products, the below is just my thoughts on formol and a way I am using it in salon. My treatment does not release extensive amount of formaldehyde in the air, and does not cause discomfort. However I have experienced and seen colleagues and costumers experiencing discomfort caused by formaldehyde and I think regularly  being/working in an environment  where large amount of formaldehyde is released it is unhealthy.

I urge every stylist to do they own research before using products contain formal or release formaldehyde.

So what is formaldehyde?

Formaldehyde is an organic compound, a gas at room temperature, formaldehyde is colorless and has a characteristic pungent, irritating odor. It is an important precursor to many other materials and chemical compounds.  Commercial solutions of formaldehyde in water, commonly called formol, were formerly used as disinfectants and for preservation of biological specimens. It is commonly used in nail hardeners and/or nail varnish.

Where can we find formaldehyde?

Formaldehyde is pretty much everywhere, you can find it in the air and the human body. According to a 1997 report by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, formaldehyde is normally present in both indoor and outdoor air at low levels, usually less than 0.03 parts of formaldehyde per million parts of air (ppm).Formaldehyde and its adducts are ubiquitous in living organisms. It is formed in the metabolism of endogenous amino acids and is found in the bloodstream of humans and other primates at concentrations of approximately 0.1 millimolar.  Formaldehyde is used in building materials and to produce many household products. It is used in pressed-wood products, such as particleboard, plywood, and fiberboard; glues and adhesives; permanent-press fabrics; paper product coatings; and certain insulation materials. In addition, formaldehyde is commonly used as an industrial fungicide, germicide, and disinfectant, and as a preservative in mortuaries and medical laboratories. Formaldehyde also occurs naturally in the environment. It is produced in small amounts by most living organisms as part of normal metabolic processes.

When dissolved in water, formaldehyde forms a hydrate, methanediol, with the formula H2C(OH)2. This also exists in equilibrium with various oligomers (short polymers), depending on the concentration and temperature. A saturated water solution, of about 40% formaldehyde by volume or 37% by mass, is called “100% formalin or formol“. A small amount of stabilizer, such as methanol, is usually added to suppress oxidation and polymerization. A typical commercial grade formalin may contain 10–12% methanol in addition to various metallic impurities.

Open Air method

I am a big fan of open air method, when the treatment is done in open air, when is possibility and using high heat I recommend the treatment to be performed outside a building.

This was the boring but needed bit, let’s get done to my theory

We are talking about two different substances Formaldehyde which is in the air, and Formal which is dissolved in water, so it’s in the product. Let’s look at Formalin,  in the beginning companies used up to 15% in their products. Formalin is not breathable but can touch your skin, go into your eyes, or in your mouth. It can cause irritation, redness, and skin sensitivity, and eye irritation (eye watering). The treatment not suppose to be applied on scalp, but away from the scalp, I haven’t seen any skin sensitivity for the product yet, but I can believe it’s exist. By smelling the product no one had anything bad happened, so I think we can agree that formal as it is in the treatment is harmless, until it becomes formaldehyde so it’s in the air.

The problem happens when formal becomes formaldehyde trough excess heat, that could be heat of straightening irons, or hair dryers. Using this heat the stylist release formaldehyde in the air. The effects of high formaldehyde level in the salon can cause eye irritation, nose irritation and breathing irritation, strong smell and uncomfortable smoky environment. This is short term exposure.

Blow drying, and  heat delivery method is dated, and it’s causes high level of formaldehyde in the air. I think the secret of the proper treatment is using the right amount of product to coat the hair, and use minimal heat, so we not creating extensive amount Formaldehyde in the salon. If heat not used, there is no/minimal Formaldehyde in the air, so the treatment is safer.

I developed a system which uses a different penetration methods, so we do not have to use extensive heat, whilst achieving the same or even better results without having to have large Formaldehyde levels in the air.

We sent detailed information to EU and USA hair, and health government bodies but tbh no one was interested to support a research and develop the safe use of the treatment. They only care about the Formol % in the product.

Cancer warnings

Although the short-term health effects of formaldehyde exposure are well known, less is known about its potential long-term health effects. In 1980, laboratory studies showed that exposure to formaldehyde could cause nasal cancer in rats. This finding raised the question of whether formaldehyde exposure could also cause cancer in humans. In 1987, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) classified formaldehyde as a probable human carcinogen under conditions of unusually high or prolonged exposure

Oregon OSHA conducted air monitoring during treatments using the Brazilian Blowout smoothing product at seven different salons where a single treatment was conducted over the course of the day. The 8-hour average exposures ranged from a low of 0.006 parts per million(ppm) to 0.33 ppm. These compare to a permissible exposure limit of 0.75 ppm. Although it was not exceeded for any of these stylists, it should be noted that multiple treatments would increase the daily average significantly.

The short term effects as mentioned before eye, nose and breathing irritation. If you a customer visiting a salon iI think one can only experience short term effects of formaldehyde, which can not cause cancer on it’s own.

If you a hairstylist you could read reports on the long term effect of formaldehyde tested on builders, painters and factory workers who actually continuously during working hours under high level of formaldehyde. Formaldehyde undergoes rapid chemical changes immediately after absorption. Therefore, some scientists think that formaldehyde is unlikely to have effects at sites other than the upper respiratory tract. However, some laboratory studies suggest that formaldehyde may affect the lymphatic and hematopoietic systems.

To summarise after my studies and experiences, I don’t think Formaldehyde can cause an ongoing problem to the customer, when she/he is only exposed for a short time, but it can cause discomfort. I think stylist should start using a method which does not contain extensive heat and product over-use, so we do not  release large amount of Formedalhyde in the salon air. I think product companies who still sell products which contains Formal over the legal limit /there are many of them/, should think if it’s really worth it?!, and invest in research developing safe techniques.

 

 

Feel free to contact me regarding this article if you have any questions. zx

 

 

 

 

References, and links:

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/hairsalons/

http://www.inchem.org/documents/sids/sids/FORMALDEHYDE.pdf

http://monographs.iarc.fr/ENG/Monographs/vol88/mono88-6.pdf

http://www.nicnas.gov.au/chemical-information/information-sheets/existing-chemical-info-sheets/formaldehyde-in-clothing-and-textiles-factsheet

http://www.orosha.org/pdf/Final_Hair_Smoothing_Report.pdf

https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/formaldehyde/index.html

http://www.inchem.org/documents/icsc/icsc/eics0275.htm

http://www.fda.gov/Cosmetics/ProductsIngredients/Products/ucm228898.htm

https://www.osha.gov/OshDoc/data_General_Facts/formaldehyde-factsheet.pdf

http://www.womensvoices.org/avoid-toxic-chemicals/salon-products/hair-straightening-products-containing-formaldehyde/

http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/factsheet/Risk/formaldehyde

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Formaldehyde

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