We were shocked when we heard about a salon that offers chemical hair straightening for kids as young as 8. Is this safe? Our pediatrician weighs in.
When a mom we know called to inquire about the procedure, she asked if the straightening treatment they used was non-toxic.
Kelly, the stylist who performs the hair-relaxing technique, says that the main ingredient in the straightening solution is ammonium thioglycolate, and the second ingredient is alcohol. But she said the only time the chemicals come in contact with the skin is while rinsing.
We checked with momlogic pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson to see if chemical hair-straightening was dangerous or safe for children. Here's what she had to say:
"I am concerned about hair straightening among young girls for two reasons. The first -- and to me more important -- is that a school-aged girl should not feel the need (or the pressure) to 'beautify.' What standards are we setting for our daughters if we take them to the hair salon for hair straightening at 8 or 9? Childhood is a time to run around with your frizzy hair or your mop-like ponytail and not care. If we tell our young daughters that they need to sit in a salon at this age, I feel sure that we are undermining their self-esteem. The one exception is a child battling illness such as cancer. This child deserves -- and needs -- beautification in order to feel normal. So these kids choose to wear wigs or cute hats (or some choose nothing at all)."
Dr. Cara continues: "The second issue with chemical hair straightening at a young age is the chemical nature of the product. Apparently the main ingredient used in this particular salon is ammonium thioglycolate. The safety data is questionable, and there seems to be very little study in children. This information is easy to find: just go onto the cosmetics database provided by the Environmental Working Group. Though most of this product is put onto the hair and not rubbed into the scalp, there is almost certainly absorption through the scalp."
Dr. Cara's bottom line: Chemical hair straightening is not for children.
Would you straighten your kids' hair?