Chemical Treatments: The Damage They Can Do To You & Your Hair

MEDICALLY REVIEWED BY
DR. KATELYN CLOYD, ND

on March 31, 2018

The road to beautiful, smooth hair is paved with good intentions. But before you try something with good intentions that ends up doing more harm than good, there are things you need to know. We are here to tell you why a natural solution may be the safest option.

These days women seem to opt for chemical straightening and smoothing treatments as often and easily as a normal haircut. But these popular salon services have been questioned because of harmful side effects. So what exactly is happening to your hair when getting a chemical treatment?

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Chemical Treatments Can Cause Your Hair Structure to Change

Each hair is made up of chains of keratin, a naturally occurring protein. Certain chemical treatments involve coating each hair strand with a strong chemical, then warming it up to activate the formula. This can affect the way these keratin chains are held together – and by doing so, it changes the structure of your hair.

There are several types of chemical treatments that claim to give you smooth and straight hair – the Brazilian blowout (a keratin treatment) and the Japanese straightening perm are the most common. Both processes can affect the hair structure, but the Japanese – being a permanent treatment – uses the strongest chemicals and therefore poses the greatest risks in terms of damaging your hair.

Chemicals Can Also Cause Hair Damage and Health Issues

But there are side effects that are more immediately apparent than a change in your hair structure. Some women have experienced burnt hair and hair loss, others tend to end up with drier hair than before. But the women who have suffered only damaged hair can count themselves lucky, as these treatments can also cause damage to our health. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, OSHA, breathing in formaldehyde can cause allergic reactions to the skin, eyes and lungs, asthma, and even blindness, if you get it in your eyes.

Chemical Smoothing Treatments Contain High Levels of Toxic Ingredients

It is safe to say that formaldehyde – used in many keratin treatments – is not good to be around. “In general, every client and stylist [exposed to keratin chemicals] complains of burning eyes, difficulty breathing, and burning sensations,” stylist Kelly Merriman told Cosmopolitan in a recent interview. Customers that have gone through this type of treatments have also complained of throat and mouth ulcers, dizziness, headaches, flu-like symptoms like vomiting, eye damage, loss of taste and smell, and fatigue, according to the Environmental Working Group, EWG. And because exposure is added over time, hair stylists are even more likely to suffer from serious symptoms.

While the chemical is not supposed to touch anything but the actual hair during the procedure, accidental skin contact can cause blisters or rashes on the scalp, face and neck. But that is just in the short term. Formaldehyde is also a known carcinogen, which means it is proven to cause cancer in humans. Higher levels and prolonged exposure pose greater risks. This might explain why hair straightening products containing the chemical are already outlawed in some countries such as Canada, France, and Ireland. This should clearly make the appeal of natural solutions even bigger.

“Formaldehyde-free” Hair Chemicals Can Still Contain or Release the Ingredient

An investigation made in 2011 by the EWG found that formaldehyde-free products can still contain the chemical. Out of the 16 companies that make hair-straightening products that the EWG tested, none included formaldehyde in their product ingredient list, but all of them did contain high levels of the dangerous chemical. In fact – all 16 companies exceeded safety limits set by the industry safety panel, Cosmetic Ingredient Review. The way they get away with it is by claiming that when formaldehyde is mixed with water, a new chemical called methylene glycol is created. For a list of all ingredients to keep an eye out for, as they are all other names for formaldehyde, check Nutrafol’s article about the Brazilian blowout.

Chemically Treated Hair Can Continue to Release Toxins After You Leave the Salon

Using a curling iron, straightening iron or a blow-dryer after you go home could release irritating fumes long after you leave the salon. This is because some ingredients used in chemical treatments are not formaldehyde per se, but will form formaldehyde when heated up.

Natural Treatments Are Always Safer

Even though it is not the same as a straightening procedure, trying a natural dietary supplement can have a great impact on your hair quality and hair health. You might feel that it is enough, and that putting your hair and health in danger for a chemical smoothing treatment is just not worth the risk. When going for an all-natural solution, you do not have to worry about what possibly harmful chemicals you are exposing your hair to.

Plant-based supplements do not have the synthetic fillers and toxic chemicals that are common in other supplements and treatments. One of the most desirable traits of plant-based supplements is that you know what you get. There are also natural hair treatment options that can do the job, if they contain keratin but no harmful chemicals. But simple homemade treatments like coconut oil or an avocado mask can also make your hair shiny and happy.

The Best Ways to Increase Your Hair Growth the Natural Way

How to grow long hair

We have all heard about them – endless natural methods that can help you improve your hair quality and aid healthy hair growth. Yes, there are plenty of home remedies that people use to try to regrow their hair, but in order to pick a remedy that actually works, it pays off to read up on the the right research supporting such methods. So what works and what doesn’t? Among so many remedies and treatments, it can be hard to determine what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to hair growth. This is what we know so far.

Consider This For Natural Hair Growth

Increase hair growth
Washing your hair often will not cause hair loss.
  • Stress

    Stress is not doing your body nor your hair a favor. When you are shocking your body and putting it through physical or emotional trauma, it also shocks the hair follicles which can stop them from growing. Studies have attempted to show a correlation between stress and hair loss. One study focused on a chemical mixture that blocks the effects of stress on the gut. Researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, used mice that were genetically altered to produce more stress hormones. As a side effect of being more stressed, the mice had gone bald.

  • Hair Care

    There is some confusion about whether hair care contributes to hair loss or not. For example, washing your hair often will not cause hair loss, but you should not over-use heat tools as they can damage, burn or dry out your hair. However, if this happens, the hair will grow back. Hair dye is another cause that is wildly discussed. Most hair-coloring treatments contain chemicals that can damage your hair and make it fall out, leaving you with temporary hair loss. Some hairstyles, such as tight plaits or ponytails can cause hair loss because of the tension it creates on the hair. However, hair care products such as gel and hairspray, do not cause hair loss.

  • Scalp Massage

    A study conducted in Japan showed that scalp massage could increase hair thickness. The men involved in the study had regular massages over a 24-week period. After the trial, researchers could conclude that, while hair growth rate did not improve, thickness improved significantly. Researchers believe this has to do with the increased blood flow and direct stimulation of the cells.

The Latest Hair Care Tech – The Hair Analyzer Will Look Inside Your Hair

Since the dawn of man – and hair related issues – hair care companies have created products to address the particular needs of your hair. And now a line of beauty salons have taken that concept further with the creation of a device designed to look inside your hair to see what it really needs. Simply put, hair care tech at its most advanced.

Henkel Beauty Care is the creator of the Schwarzkopf Professional SalonLab. SalonLab is a handheld Bluetooth connected device that analyzes your strands. After your strands are analyzed, the device sends the data to an app, which comes up with a customized shampoo formula. The device is not bigger than a smartphone, and you run it through your hair from root to tip. It contains near-infrared and light sensors to measure inner hair quality, moisture level and true hair color. So to those of you who have dyed your hair so many times that you can’t really remember your true hair color – this little thing will help you solve that mystery. You will never have to wonder at your hair color again. Hair-evolution, right?

Not a Replacement for a Knowledgeable Stylist

However, the analyzer is not meant to replace the expertise of stylist. Quite the contrary actually – it is supposed to work as a compliment, providing the experts with more information to take care of your hair.

“A good and trained hairdresser can tell if hair is damaged, but they could never look into the hair,” says Marie-Eve Schroeder, chief marketing officer at Henkel Beauty Care, in a press release.

SalonLab is a handheld Bluetooth connected device that analyzes your strands.

If the Hair Care Analyzer Shows That Your Hair is Dry

One of the most common diagnosis the hair care analyzer will probably give is your hair is dry. And maybe you’re like “Yeah, thanks I knew that already!” But having the gadget give you that information is the first step towards healthy hair. Because, understanding the root cause of dry hair and taking the right action could be all you need to get the locks you long for.

The problem with dry hair can usually be found in your scalp and the fact that it is not making enough oil to moisturize your hair. Hair has no natural lubrication. It simply relies on oils made in the hair roots to keep your hair shafts moisturized and lustrous. As you get older, your roots makes less oil, which explains why your hair gets more dry and brittle with age. Since the roots are under your skin, dry scalp usually comes with dry hair. A dry scalp, in turn, peels and sheds, leading to dandruff flakes on your shoulders.

Knowing about your dry hair and what lead to it, makes it possible to try to change a few things to end up with that soft hair you always dreamt of. The best hair care tips to avoid dry hair are:

  • Wash it less often.
  • When you wash it, use a shampoo specifically for dry hair.
  • Avoid hair products that have alcohol and sulfates in them as both tend to dry out the hair.
  • Always use a moisturizing conditioner after the shampoo.
  • Massage your scalp with some coconut oil to replenish moisture.
  • Invest in a hair supplement that works to improve your hair from within.

Botox for Hair: Treatment, Safety and Effects

Botox for hair

Is your winter hair giving you a tough time? Does your hair feel dry, rough or extra frizzy lately? If you’re looking for smooth hair, you may want to consider one of the latest trends in the hair and beauty market: Botox for hair. Some people are finding a hair Botox treatment might just (as the name suggests) rejuvenate their strands.

If you’re curious about hair Botox and wondering whether hair Botox treatment could be right for you, as well as some alternatives to hair Botox, keep reading.

What is Hair Botox?

You may have heard about Botox as a beauty treatment for your forehead or crow’s feet, but how about a Botox treatment for hair?

For starters, the very name “hair Botox” or “Botox for hair” is something of a misnomer, as a Botox hair treatment doesn’t involve actual Botox — botulinum toxin — at all. So just what is hair Botox?

Hair Botox is a treatment that claims to help eliminate frizz and “fill in” your hair where it has become damaged, essentially smoothing your hair and drastically improving its texture and appearance. Hair Botox could be considered an anti-aging treatment (hence the catchy name). But as noted, unlike the Botox that we may have injected into our faces to smooth out wrinkles, hair Botox does not contain any chemicals, let alone botulinum toxin.

Instead of thinking of Botox for hair as just another form of Botox applied elsewhere, it’s more accurate to view it as a deep conditioning treatment that helps restore and reconstruct your hair. But if Botox for hair doesn’t contain botulinum toxin, what does it contain that makes it so effective? A Botox hair treatment uses key ingredients such as proteins, amino acids, keratin, vitamins, and lipids to work its magic — without harsh chemicals.

So if your hair feels frizzy due to the harsh weather outside, hair Botox may be able to help rebuild it. A hair Botox treatment is designed to restore your hair fibers, sometimes using keratin, leaving your hair feeling silky, shiny and more youthful-looking, while avoiding the harmful effects that can come with other salon-performed smoothing treatments.

Hair Botox may sound too good to be true, and you may be wondering if there are any hair botox side effects. Find out and discover who could benefit from Botox for hair in the next section.

Are There Hair Botox Side Effects?

Part of what makes Botox for hair so appealing is the lack of harsh chemicals and potentially dangerous side effects. While other smoothing or straightening treatments, such as the Brazilian blowout, may deliver smoother hair that lasts for some time, their product ingredients go beyond just keratin, which is good for your hair. Instead, such treatments may use chemicals that turn into formaldehyde once heat is applied, and formaldehyde is known to cause cancer. If you go with a hair Botox treatment instead, you avoid the risks of chemical relaxing or straightening treatments.

Since hair Botox is free from harsh chemicals and considered to be a deep conditioning treatment, you avoid a lot of potential health risks and it is unlikely to experience undesirable side effects. Again, hair Botox is a treatment that helps to repair your damaged hair — but like everything else, moderation is key.

While Botox for hair is suitable for all hair types, you’ll see the greatest benefits from a Botox hair treatment if you have dry, frizzy or dull locks. Hair Botox is also recommended if you have over-processed or damaged hair and want to restore it, because just like the treatment for your face, Botox for the hair works to fill in unwanted gaps — without the trademark chemical.

Botox for hair
Hair Botox is a treatment that claims to help eliminate frizz as it smooths your hair and reverses time on your hair clock.

How Does Botox for Hair Work?

If you decide to get Botox for hair, you’re in for a much less complicated process than you might be used to if you’ve tried keratin treatments or Brazilian blowouts. A hair Botox treatment doesn’t require the same level of careful preparation or followup to maintain its results.

After you arrive at the salon for your Botox for hair treatment, your hair will be washed with a clarifying shampoo to remove any residue in your hair. The wash will also help open your hair cuticles, preparing them to better absorb the hair Botox. Next, the hair Botox treatment will be applied and left on your hair for about 45 minutes before being washed off. Once the Botox for hair gets washed out, the hair gets blow-dried and usually sealed with straighteners.

Botox for hair treatment results usually last between 2-4 months if you take care of your hair. Your hairstylist will give you more specific directions, but generally, you should at least use a sulphate-free shampoo to help maintain the benefits of the hair Botox.

Botox Hair Treatment Alternatives

If you don’t have a hair salon near you that offers Botox for hair, you can always try one of these winter hair remedies that you can make at home.

Whether you do a hair Botox treatment or some other conditioning treatment, we also recommend taking a natural supplement to make sure your body and hair are getting all the nutrition they need. Natural supplements are one of the fastest-growing industries and are taken by more and more people every day. As their name suggests, they are made of only natural ingredients. The best supplements contain plant-derived, natural ingredients that work synergistically to aid your hair growth without chemicals or dyes.