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Health and Safety in Hairdressing

A hairdresser's hands are his/her most important "tool" and hairdressers should therefore take proper precautions to protect their hands from the water and chemicals which are used in their job. These can cause a serious skin irritation called dermatitis.



Dermatitis is a skin condition where the skin becomes irritated. Signs of dermatitis are dryness, redness, cracking, blistering and itching.

The website for the British government, Health and Safety Executive www.hse.gov.uk/hairdressing/hairdresser.htm, gives the following information about dermatitis:

  • Up to 70% of hairdressers suffer some form of skin damage
  • Dermatitis is caused by contact with chemicals present in hairdressing products and prolonged contact with water
  • Dermatitis causes personal suffering
  • Dermatitis is unsightly and unpleasant
  • Dermatitis is bad for your career as well as your skin
  • You can prevent it - look after your hands by wearing non-latex gloves, drying hands thoroughly and using moisturisers regularly; also take regular ‘glove breaks’, don’t spend all day washing hair, vary duties (e.g.: cut hair instead) and change gloves between clients.


Watch the Video

Watch the video: Hairdresser, Looking After Your Hands. The video runs continuously, but you can click on the different parts in the list to the right of the video - "Introduction", "Maxine's Story", "5 Simple Steps", etc.

  1. Watch "Introduction"
    • Pause at the frame of the girl with a customer in a hairdressing salon. Name as many of the items in the picture as possible.
      Some suggestions

      washbasin, cupboards, bench, tap, bottles with shampoo etc., gloves, towels, water, customer, hairdresser

    • Describe what is happening.
    • Watch the rest of "Introduction" and then answer the following questions:
      • How many apprentices suffer from dermatitis?
      • How many get severe skin damage?
      • What does "contagious" mean?
      • What causes dermatitis?
      • What are the signs and symptoms?
  2. Listen to "Maxine's story" and note down the main points. In pairs, tell each other about Maxine's story - give a short summary of the main points.
  3. Watch "5 Simple Steps" and then make a list of the 5 steps which will help to prevent dermatitis.
Suggested answers
  1. Answers to questions from "Introduction"
    • 2/3 of apprentices suffer from dermatitis.
    • 1/3 of apprentices get severe skin changes
    • Contagious means that a disease or infection can be passed from one person to another
    • Water + chemicals cause of dermatitis
    • The signs and symptoms are dryness, itching, redness, bleeding, swelling, blistering, scaling and cracking.
  2. 5 Simple Steps: use disposable non-latex gloves, change between clients, wash often, use moisturising hand cream often, check skin regularly

Poster - Protecting Your Hands

Look at the poster: Protecting Your Hands. In pairs explain to your partner which areas of the hands are often overlooked when cleansing or applying hand cream.

Other Hazards in the Salon

In pairs make a list of other hazards in a hairdressing salon. Then compare your lists with others in the class.

Make Your Own Safety Poster

Make a safety poster for workers in a hairdressing salon showing the most important safety rules.

Make a Safety Video

Use the information in the text and your own experience and make a safety video demonstrating safety in a hairdressing salon.


Safety at Work