At the hair or beauty salon

This information is for people that work in beauty salons, such as hairdressers, beauticians, nail artists and cleaners. It gives information on things in the workplace that could damage the lungs and advice on how to protect them.

What are the hazards?

These are some of the hazards you may come into contact with at work.

  • Hair products

    Hairsprays and setting lotions often include volatile organic chemicals (e.g. toluene, ethanol, isopropanol, ether, diaminotoluene, phenylenediamine).

    Dyes, bleaches and perming mixes might contain ammonia, ammonium persulfates, hydrogen peroxide, and organic pigments.

  • Nail products

    Liquids and powders used to make artificial nails, as well as the dust filings created during this type of work can be harmful to the lungs.

  • Cleaning products


    • Benzalkonium chloride (quaternary ammonium compound) – found in disinfectants and cleaners for floors and hard surfaces
    • Chlorine-based agents (sodium hypochlorite) – the main ingredient in bleach
    • Some scents within cleaning products e.g. limonene, which gives some products a citrus smell
    • Isothiazolinones – used in some washing up liquids and laundry washing liquids

Smoking is the biggest risk factor for lung conditions like COPD and lung cancer

If you smoke, you will be at a much higher risk of developing a lung condition.


How can your health be affected?

How to protect yourself

Your employer has a responsibility to ensure the work environment is appropriately ventilated and that you are provided with protective clothing and appropriate safety advice.

Here are five easy things you can do to ensure you're doing everything you can to protect your lung health at work.

  • Assess Risk

    Do risk assessments to make sure you are doing jobs safely and efficiently.

  • Ventilation

    Make sure that your work area is appropriately ventilated so that cleaner air can come into the room.

    Make sure you have a dust extractor and that it is switched on and working.

  • Avoid harmful products

    Check whether any of the products you use can be swapped for versions that are less damaging to health.

  • Health check-ups

    Get your health regularly checked – either through a health scheme at your workplace, or by regularly seeing a healthcare professional.

  • When cleaning

    Check ingredients in cleaning products and avoid those that will put you at risk.

    Use wipes not sprays so that you are putting less chemicals into the air for you to breathe in.

    Follow label instructions about the safe use of chemicals.

More information