A recent study by researchers at the Rutgers School of Public Health found that clients who frequent hair and nail salons have more instances of dermal and fungal symptoms, as compared to clients who use the same services less frequently. Although several studies in California and in Asian countries have been conducted that assess risks to hair and nail salon employees, risks to clients, and clients’ perceptions of those hazards, are historically less well understood. Furthermore, although clients might be aware of some of the hazardous chemicals, like formaldehyde, they often do not recognize the dangers posed by pathogens including bacteria, fungi, and viruses.
[Photo: Ms. Lindsey J. Milich]
Rutgers School of Public Health alum, Ms. Lindsey J. Milich, led the study and surveyed clients from six salons in three adjacent New Jersey counties between November 2015 and February 2016. The survey was administered either in person or online and collected information about client demographics (e.g. gender, age, race/ethnicity, and education level), the number and types of symptoms they experienced following hair and/or nail salon visits, and general knowledge about salon safety.
Among the 90 survey respondents, 52 percent reported experiencing dermal or fungal symptoms following a salon visit. Moreover, these symptoms were more prevalent among clients who sought salon services three or more times within the past year compared to clients who reported less frequent salon use. Notably, respiratory symptoms were more common in clients who went to salons less frequently. These findings suggested that clients who may have particular respiratory sensitivities to salon environments could be less likely to return.
“It is exciting to see the focus shifting towards the health and safety of hair and nail salon clients, as much of the spotlight has been focused on the technicians,” said Ms. Milich. “We are hopeful this is the beginning of many studies to come, in order to continue identifying ways to improve safety and health in salons.”
The study provides new insights into adult client safety and health knowledge and presence of dermal, respiratory, and fungal symptoms. Results from this and other studies could inform the development of new training materials as well as indoor air and environmental quality interventions to increase safety and health knowledge while decreasing salon-related symptoms among clients, workers, and managers.
This study was conducted as part of Ms. Milich’ s culminating Fieldwork/Practicum experience for her Master of Public Health degree at the Rutgers School of Public Health.
“Safety and health risk perceptions: A cross-sectional study of New Jersey hair and nail salon clients” was published in the Journal of Chemical Health and Safety.