A few months back, I researched the side effects of cosmetic products on pregnant women. If you work in a salon, you need to be careful which types of products you handle because many contain toxins that are dangerous to a developing fetus. However, I actually stumbled upon a different study today that gives further evidence as to why hairspray in particular is dangerous. In fact, the reason hairspray is dangerous is the same reason women need to be cautious about which plastics they use during pregnancy.

Hairspray contains a dangerous group of chemicals called phthalates. These chemicals are used in plastic products to create elasticity, and babies and pregnant women alike should avoid them. Since phthalates are inhaled when airborne, they are especially dangerous in hairspray. One study shows that pregnant women who inhale a large amount of phthalates from hairspray are more likely to give birth to a baby with genital defects. Specifically, male babies born under these conditions might require surgery to correct the placement of their reproductive organs. They might also have decreased sperm counts later in life.

Women who use hairspray occasionally are not at risk. Only women who are surrounded by the product every day need to be cautious about preventing these complications. If you work in a hair salon, consider wearing a mask as your pregnancy progresses. If possible, take as much time off work as possible or have someone else spray the product after you’ve finished cutting or coloring the hair. You might also consider talking to your boss about taking over receptionist duties until you’ve delivered or about replacing the usual products with organic versions. Depending on your work environment, you might be able to work around the problem.

Unfortunately, working in a hair salon or cosmetology environment has more occupational risks associated with pregnancy than a job in an office. You’ll need to be extra careful. Of course you need to make sure you have enough money to support the baby, but you also need to put the baby’s health first. If that means staying home while your partner picks up more hours or finding ways to save in other ways, it should be a compromise both of you are willing to make for the health of your child. Once you’ve delivered a healthy, beautiful baby boy, you can go back to the salon and resume work as usual.

Source: Julia Barrett: Chemical Exposures: The Ugly Side of Beauty Products. Environmental Health Perspectives Volume 113 Issue 1 2005