ARE CHEMICAL HAIR TREATMENTS SAFE FOR PEOPLE SUFFERING FROM CHRONIC DISEASES?
Two experts weigh in on the topic...
Keratin treatments or Brazilian blow-outs are actually a misnomer. These are chemically packed treatments to break the keratin bonds in the hair. The chemicals involved are ammonium thioglycolate and sodium hydroxide. Others, such as methylene glycol, formalin, methanal, and methanediol, release formaldehyde when heated or mixed with water. These treatments have been banned in Europe and Canada due to its high chemical content The International Agency for Research on Cancer as well as the National Toxicology Program classify formaldehyde as a known human carcinogen. Formaldehyde increases the chances of cancer. Exposure to this chemical is not only hazardous to the person getting it done but also to the stylist and the co-workers working in the salon and inhaling the fumes. It can cause headache dizziness vomiting sore throat amongst many other hazards. After this realizations various products got marketed as “formaldehyde free” but this is super misleading as the chemical used to as a replacement is usually methylene glycol which when heated releases formaldehyde. Nevertheless newer treatments are available in some markets, which are using sericin, an ingredient that’s produced by silkworms as a hair smoother. Or still if you are going to get a keratin treatment with formaldehyde (or formaldehyde-releasing ingredients), do make sure the area is properly ventilated and don’t hesitate to pay for a well-trained hair stylist with good experience.
Artistic Director, Hairology
Chemicals like formaldehyde creams are applied to the hair and the hair is then heated with hot irons in chemical treatments. The combination of chemicals like formaldehyde, heat, compression is not good for even normal hair. It is only worse for people already suffering from cancer and whose scalp and tissues are already made quite sensitive from the process of chemotherapy and radiation. Even Brazilian blow-outs that claim they have no formaldehyde have methylene glycol which when heated produces formaldehyde. Medically we do not recommend any treatments to do with chemicals or heat. We do not know the effect of such treatments and what bearing they have in the long run and even in case of relapse there should be no ambiguity to the patient that his condition could have been prevented. SLS free shampoos, minimal heat styling and avoiding chemical processing of hair are definitely to hair that has undergone a lot of trauma. Deep conditioning treatments, oil massages will also help improve condition of the hair.
Dr. Shuba Dharmana
Dermatologist & Medical Director, Lejeune Medspa, Bangalore