Making others beautiful can come for a cost. Health experts warn that not only the users of beauty products but also the beauty professionals are at risk. Hairstylists who apply hair dyes on their customers have a much higher exposure to the chemicals than the customers. This is because the stylists mix the chemicals which can generate fumes. The stylists also apply the chemicals to the customer’s hair and that is why they would be at a higher risk than the customer.

Dr GK Jadhav, a cancer specialist at Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in New Delhi, warns that hair professionals are prone to cancer. “They can catch cancer of the gall bladder because they are constantly in touch with the chemicals which are present in the dyes and for a longer duration of time”, he says. He refers to a research conducted by International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), France. This research reveals that hair dyes are cancer causing in nature.

Chemical hair dyes contain a compound known as Paraphenylenediamine or PPD which is absorbed by the skin. It causes cancer. It gives a natural look to the hair and does not decolorize easily. That is why they are preferred to natural options like Henna.

The reason of this increasing risk among professionals is that they don’t cover their face and hands when they apply the dye, says Dr Jadhav.

The use of hair dyes has gone up drastically in India. The Hair dye market increased from Rs 700 million to Rs 2.54 billion according to a survey conducted by

Nisha, a beautician at Batla House in South Delhi’s Jamia Nagar, says she doesn’t wear a mask or cover her hands while applying the dye. Neither is she aware of the fact that her own health is at risk.

Henna, which is a natural colour was the preferred earlier. But, its application leaves only a light impression on the hair. Therefore, it has to be applied several times to give a dark shade. So, in the rush for quick fix solutions, Henna often loses out.

Deepti Sinha, a student of 12th standard says, “I used to apply henna to cover my white hair. But now I only apply hair dye because it has strong colouring effect unlike henna. Moreover, hair colour gives a long lasting effect.”

Dr Jadhav is more concerned about the hair stylists. He advices them that henna and the vegetable colours are the only safe options. It is impossible to lose your customers by saying them ‘NO’ but wearing gloves and mask can minimize the risk to a great extent”, he says.

Copy editor: Neha Sethi
Photo: Gargi Nim