As we think about our morning routine, that is the hygiene schedule, there are numerous chemicals that we are exposed to each day. This includes toothpaste, mouthwash, soap, shampoo, condition, hairspray, and all of the makeup. It can be a little shocking at what we are putting ourselves through to be presentable in public. The focus of this study is hairspray.
The specific brand of hairspray being researched is, Garnier Fructis Full Control, Anti-Humidity Hairspray. It is an aerosol that is sprayed into the air any time it is used. It is something that touches the skin and that is breathed in when used.
The ingredients listed on the can include water, dimethyl ether, alcohol denat, polyester-5, polyurethane-6, fragrance, glycerin, limonene, hexal cynnamal, linalool, ethylhexal methoxycinnamate, capric triglyceride, and amyl cinnamalbambusa vulgaris extract. Basically, the only ingredient that is recognizable is water. Are these chemicals dangerous; are they safe, does anyone even know?
Hairspray is a product that was created to hold hair in place and makes it possible to create many styles that would be difficult otherwise (Hanes, 2011). Each type of hairspray has a different blend of ingredients, of which some ingredients have been linked to negative side effects (Hanes, 2011). More research is needed, however.
Before exploring our specific ingredients, it is important to know that in the past hairspray was very dangerous. The 1970’s, hairspray contained vinyl chloride, which was proven to be a carcinogenic, or cancer causing agent, that is linked to liver cancer (Hanes, 2011). Though this specific chemical is no longer used, it is important to research what is being used presently.
The first ingredient to examine is dimethyl ether. This chemical is a substance that is used as a propellant in aerosol cans (Dimethyl Ether, 2013). This chemical is also used as a substitute for propane. Dimethyl ether is nontoxic, but extremely flammable (Dimethyl Ether, 2013). A chemical that can be a substitute for propane seems a bit dangerous, though it is deemed not to be at this time. This chemical is produced in either laboratories or on an industrial scale (Dimethyl Ether, 2013). Many times factors that produce chemicals such as these have a risk of polluting the environment.
Alcohol denat, also known as denatured alcohol is a chemical that has additives that make it poisonous and foul if drunk (Denatured Alcohol, 2013). It is used as a solvent in hairspray. If this chemical is consumed it can result in blindness or death (Denatured Alcohol, 2013). Though it is deemed safe in aerosol form, the liquid is harmful. This chemical can also be produced on an industrial scale which leads to the risk of pollution.
Polyester-5 is used with dimethyl ether because it is soluble with this chemical making it a perfect ingredient for hairspray (Dimethyl Ether, 2013). Information regarding this chemical is scarce, so it could be toxic. This chemical is made in factories which often pollute the environment in some ways.
Polyurethane is similar to glue (Polyurethane, 2013). No exposure limits have been given by OSHA. This chemical is flammable and produces carbon dioxide when burned (Polyurethane, 2013). This chemical may also contain hazardous components when found in a liquid resin blend (Polyurethane, 2013). Again, produced in factories.
Glycerin is a chemical used in hairspray because it is soluble. This chemical has low toxicity, meaning that it is toxic at some level (Glycerol, 2013). This chemical is used to sweeten and preserve foods, as botanical extracts, and also in antifreeze (Glycerol, 2013). Also produced on an industrial scale. This makes one wonder what exactly we put into our bodies.
Limonene is found in citrus fruit peels. This chemical has been found to block cancer forming chemicals and kill cancer cells, though there is more research needed to determine if this happens in the human body (Limonene, 2013). This is an interested ingredient. Something that may actual be beneficial, rather than toxic. Found in citrus peels, this extract is acquired by harvesting the fruit. May not cause an environmental problem at this time.
Hexyl Cynnamal, Amal Cinnamal, and ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate are all similar chemicals. It is considered generally safe by the FDA (Cinnamal, 2013). It is taken from the bark of cinnamon trees and is used as a fragrance (Cinnamal, 2013). This could eventually be harmful to the environment in that these trees are being used for this compound.
Linalool is produced by mixing a variety of essential oils to include orange, lavender, rose, rosewood, and coriander (Linalool, 2001). These oils are derived from their respective plant. This ingredient can cause skin irritation and allergic reactions (Linalool, 2001). It is also similar to Limonene in that it has been shown to aid pharmaceutical drugs in killing breast cancer as well as leukemia (Linalool, 2001). This can be harmful to the environment because plants are used in the manufacturing of the product.
Capric Triglyceride and Bambusa Vulgaric acid, the last two ingredients mentioned, are both derived from plants also. Capric Triglyceride is taken from coconuts (Caprylic Capric Triglyceride, 2012). This helps to deliver oil to your hair when added to hairspray to keep the hair from becoming dry (Caprylic Capric Triglyceride, 2012). This is not harmful to people but could be potentially harmful to the environment.
Bambusa Vulgaric Acid is taken from bamboo. This is a rich source of natural silica (Bambusa Vulgaris Bamboo Health Benefit, 2011). This plant extract has been shown to treat coughs and alleviate fever, among other medicinal benefits (Bambusa Vulgaris Bamboo Health Benefit, 2011). There were no studies conducted as of 2011 showing a human benefit of the plant.
Though information about the specific manufacturing of this hairspray is difficult to find, like most products it is massed produced in a factory. The chemicals are acquired through other companies, and then combined to produce this product that is being used.
Often time, even if factories are considered safe for the environment, there are still some aspects of pollution that are happening. Pollution only has to be kept under a certain level in order for the company to pass the standard testing. It is nearly impossible to have a pollution free factory. Even if the product is safe for the environment, many times the manufacturing process causes some detriment to the environment.
But if the ingredients are reviewed, there are several ingredients that are not completely harmless to the environment. Some of the ingredients used are derived from plants. When manufacturing on a large scale, many times plants will be completely extricated from an area for the sake of the product.
Unless these plants are being specifically farmed for the company to use in this manner, they are collecting these plants from ecosystems that need to plants to survive in some aspect. It is a shame that we can sometimes be so blind to what is actually happening when we simply pick products up from a shelf.
The other issue is hairspray harmful to individuals. Garnier Fructis states on the can that it, “Meets all state and federal clean air standards.” It says nothing about being safe for use by human beings. It seems that there is not enough research to determine the precise level of safety of this product.
The can also lists warnings that include: Flammable. Avoid heat, fire, flame, and smoking during use and until hair is completely dry. Avoid spraying in eyes, contents under pressure. Do not puncture or incinerate. Do not store in temperatures above 120 degrees. Keep out of reach children. Use only as directed. Intentional misuse by deliberately concentrating and inhaling product can be harmful or fatal.
It does not actually state that many of the ingredients are toxic in some way. That the research necessary for long term use and safety is not currently available to the consumer. It makes one wonder if it is safe to use every day. What else is being used that is toxic or potentially harmful?
Hairspray is questionable. Will it be worth the long term effects on the person or the environment? Is it actually safe? Is the necessary research being collected to determine this? How will we know?
It is important to be aware of your environment. Each person has a responsibility to act in the safest manner possible. It is easy for people to pick something up from a shelf, purchase it, and use it with no thought of the potential harm or benefit of the product. This is how society works. Hairspray is one of these products.
Hairspray has the potential to be toxic based on the ingredients used. It also has the potential to be harmful to the environment. At one time it even included ingredients that could cause cancer. Is it necessary to the daily routine? Is it worth the long term effects? It must be, because we continue to use this product regardless of the outcome.
Bambusa Vulgaris Bamboo Health Benefit. (2011). Retrieved May 1, 2013, from Alphalipoic-acid.org: http://www.alphalipoic-acid.org
Caprylic Capric Triglyceride. (2012). Retrieved May 1, 2013, from Ingredients to Die for: http://www.ingredients todiefor.com
Cinnamal. (2013). Retrieved May 1, 2013, from Cosmetics Info.org: http:www.cosmeticsinfo.org
Denatured Alcohol. (2013). Retrieved May 1, 2013, from Digplanet: www.http://www.digplanet.com
Dimethyl Ether. (2013). Retrieved May 1, 2013, from Digplanet: http://www.digplanet.com
Glycerol. (2013). Retrieved May 1, 2013, from Digplanet: http:www.digplanet.com
Hanes, T. (2011, June 10). Is Hairspray Harmful? Retrieved May 1, 2013, from Livestrong: http://www.livestrong.com
Limonene. (2013). Retrieved May 1, 2013, from Webmd: http://www.webmd.com
Linalool. (2001, March 9). Retrieved May 1, 2013, from Chemical of the Day: http://www.chemicaloftheday.squarespace.com
Polyurethane. (2013). Retrieved May 1, 2013, from Digplanet: http://www.digplanet.com