I am a hairdresser. Can hair dyes and perming lotions be harmful?

Many professional hair products cause skin problems, which doctors refer to as dermatitis.

Dermatitis is inflammation of the skin. It can cause itching, cracking and blistering, and make your skin red, sore and flaky.

There are two main kinds of dermatitis:

  • irritant contact dermatitis, which is caused by substances that physically damage the skin such as wet work, dyes, and shampoos. Certain air-borne chemicals can also irritate your skin, mouth and throat; and
  • allergic contact dermatitis, which is caused when your body's immune system becomes 'sensitised' to a particular substance, like the latex in some rubber gloves. Sensitisation can suddenly occur even when you have been working with a substance for years. After you have been sensitised, you will have an allergic reaction to even tiny amounts of the substance, and may also become allergic to related substances.

See the workSMART Dermatitis section for more information.

Note: This content is provided as general background information and should not be taken as legal advice or financial advice for your particular situation. Make sure to get individual advice on your case from your union, a source on our free help page or an independent financial advisor before taking any action.

What is WorkSmart?

A career coach that works for everyone.


Enjoy bite-sized activities delivered to you every week.

Lightbulb brain

Equip yourself with essential skills to be the best you yet.


Get the guidance you need to stay focused and reach your goals.

Worksmart circle