The dangers of mixing heat and haircare products

Siloxane exposure in buildings from hair care products.


Hair products often have chemicals that can evaporate quickly. When people use these products, they might breathe in these chemicals, which could affect their health. Researchers looked at these evaporating chemicals, especially siloxanes, that make hair shiny and smooth. They found that using these products can quickly change the air inside a room. Heat styling, like straightening or curling, makes these chemicals in the air even higher.

Previous studies focused on siloxanes from products that wash off, like cleansers. But this study looked at products that stay on the hair, like creams or oils. Also, most studies didn’t look at how the air changes in real-time when people are styling their hair.

The researchers, led by Nusrat Jung, wanted to understand the details of these chemicals in the air, especially in small bathrooms where people usually apply these products.

The researchers conducted a study in a small, ventilated house where people used regular hair products and heated tools. They measured the chemicals released in real-time before, during, and after styling hair. They focused on cyclic volatile methyl siloxanes (cVMS), commonly found in hair products.

The data from mass spectrometry showed quick changes in the air’s chemical makeup, and cVMS was the primary chemical detected. The amount of chemicals released depended on the product type, the hair length, and the styling tool’s temperature. Longer hair and higher temperatures led to higher chemical emissions.

Based on their findings, the researchers calculated that a person might inhale up to 20 mg of a specific chemical (D5) commonly found in hair products daily. After a hair care routine using an exhaust fan, most of this chemical was removed from the room in about 20 minutes.

Still, the researchers warn that this might affect the air quality outside, especially in crowded cities. They emphasize the need for urgent studies on the long-term health effects of exposure to siloxanes since most existing findings are from studies on animals.

The study underscores the potential health implications of combining heat with hair styling products, shedding light on the importance of understanding and addressing the emissions of volatile compounds during routine hair care activities. Urgent attention is called for regarding long-term human health impacts from siloxane exposure, as existing data primarily stems from animal studies.

Journal reference:

  1. Jinglin Jiang, Xiaosu Ding, et al., Siloxane Emissions and Exposures during the Use of Hair Care Products in Buildings. ACS’ Environmental Science & Technology. DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.3c05156.


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