Hair Hazard

Is your hairstyle … HAZARDOUS?!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

No, this isn’t about the time I got my hair caught in the pasta press. We’re talking volatile organic compounds, or VOCs.

These are chemicals discharged into the air as gas; some are toxic. VOCs are released by many daily products and activities, like hair straighteners and curling irons! How can we do it safely?

Enter Jinglin Jiang and team from Purdue University.

They had over thirty participants style their hair in a small room. Before, during, and after styling, researchers measured the VOCs in the air.

Results? VOC concentrations INCREASED during heat-styling! Higher temperatures and longer hair released more VOCs. Ventilating while styling your hair can reduce VOCs in the air by up to seventy percent.

Inhaling high levels of VOCs while styling your hair may be bad for you! To reduce the risk, crack a window open or lower the temperature of your styling tool!

Whew. Those are some hair-raising findings!

Reference: Jiang, J., Ding, X., Patra, S. S., Cross, J. N., Huang, C., Kumar, V., Price, P., Reidy, E. K., Tasoglou, A., Huber, H., Stevens, P. S., Boor, B. E., & Jung, N. (2023). Siloxane Emissions and Exposures during the Use of Hair Care Products in Buildings. Environmental Science & Technology.