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Health & Medicine

Adding Heat to Certain Hair Products Could be Hazardous

— December 11, 2023

For many people, getting their hair ready for the day is a morning staple. There are countless products available today to help with hair prep, and with the right tools, nearly any desired look is possible. Unfortunately, no matter how great the hair may look once it is done, there are some risks that come along with using many of the hair products on the market today.

Considering how many millions of people use hair care products and tools each day, any risks that are associated with these products have the potential to do significant overall harm to human health. A new study has shown just how dangerous they can be and how much more research is needed to truly understand the threat at hand.

At the heart of what is dangerous about hair care products are VOCs, or volatile organic compounds. These are chemical compounds that are often found in hair care products – among many other types of products – and can easily be inhaled. Exposure to VOCs is known to provide a long list of potentially negative health effects, so this is an obvious point of concern. Adding to the trouble is the fact that these products are often used in the bathroom, which tends to be one of the smallest rooms in the house and allows the VOCs to build up to harmful levels more quickly.

Adding Heat to Certain Hair Products Could be Hazardous
Photo by Rene Asmussen from Pexels

The risk of VOCs is nothing new, and some people already pay careful attention to select hair care products that are advertised with low or no VOCs. However, what is interesting about this latest research is the fact that heat styling techniques like curling and straightening seem to increase the level of VOCs in the air. This research was performed with advanced equipment that could measure VOCs while hair care products and heating techniques were used in a small space, and the results showed that it didn’t take long at all for those VOCs to add up.

One solution that many people use to combat this issue is to turn on the fan in the bathroom while using hair care products. And, indeed, it seems through this research that turning on the fan does actually help to cut down on VOCs in the room. So, from an individual perspective, that’s an approach that might be better than doing nothing at all.

But here’s where the problem comes in. In an urban environment, if too many people are using this approach and dumping the VOCs out of their bathrooms and into the air, this could lead to air quality problems in a densely populated setting. So, moving the polluted air away from the individual might help temporarily, but it could possibly create a bigger problem for the community.

Looking ahead, rather than temporary solutions like ventilation, it seems that the more sustainable path is to move away from hair care products that emit high levels of VOCs when exposed to heat. That’s the problem that should be solved in order to make everyone healthier while still getting the great-looking hair they love.


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