I started wearing a respirator, long before I started doing Keratin
Treatments, at the recommendation of my E.N.T.. I had irritation in my
throat and sinuses from breathing in the ammonia gas that comes off of
Permanent Straightening. The following describes the toxicity of ammonia
"What is ammonia’s mechanism of action?
Ammonia interacts immediately upon contact with available moisture in the skin, eyes, oral
cavity, respiratory tract, and particularly mucous surfaces to form the very caustic ammonium
hydroxide. Ammonium hydroxide causes the necrosis of tissues through disruption of cell
membrane lipids (saponification) leading to cellular destruction. As cell proteins break down,
water is extracted, resulting in an inflammatory response that causes further damage.
What are the immediate health effects of ammonia exposure?
Inhalation: Ammonia is irritating and corrosive. Exposure to high concentrations of ammonia
in air causes immediate burning of the nose, throat and respiratory tract. This can cause
bronchiolar and alveolar edema, and airway destruction resulting in respiratory distress or
failure. Inhalation of lower concentrations can cause coughing, and nose and throat irritation.
Ammonia's odor provides adequate early warning of its presence, but ammonia also causes
olfactory fatigue or adaptation, reducing awareness of one's prolonged exposure at low
The doctor considered my irritation quite severe. At the time, I was
doing @8-10 hours of permanent straightening per day, and breathing in
ammonia gas the entire time. SO! In comparison to that, the Keratin
Treatments don't feel toxic at all. :) There is formaldehyde gas that
comes off during the flat ironing part, but unless it blows directly
into the face, it is not detectable. Whereas, the Ammonia gas that
comes off during a permanent straightening is very very noticeable and
would affect everyone on our floor if we didn't ventilate. When a
Keratin Treatment is done without ventilation, the fumes don't even
make it into the hallway past our door.
The bottom line is that both are toxic to breath in. And, some people
are going to be really sensitive to the fumes of both, and some people
are not going to be sensitive to either. I happen to be a very
sensitive person to fumes, so the only way I could continue to work
with either method is with the use of a respirator. Many hairdressers
quit the business because they can't tolerate the fumes or the handling
of product. And, many clients avoid the straightening services because
they don't want the exposure. Wearing a respirator solves that problem
for both stylists and clients.
The unique thing about the Keratin Treatment is that it's new and there
are no long term affects known to hairdressers, yet. Also, the
unfortunate thing is that some companies are marketing the product as
"all natural", insinuating that it's non-toxic, which is totally
deceptive. Therefore, hairdressers and clients incorrectly assume that a
stylist wearing a respirator must be dealing with a "bad, toxic, under
the table" version of Keratin Treatment solution. This couldn't be
further from the truth at our salon. I wear a respirator because I'm
dealing with gasses of known toxicity, and unknown long term affect, on
a daily basis. It would be just plain stupid to put myself in an
environment with ANY potential exposure on a daily basis, and not
protect myself. I've done a couple Keratin Treatments's without the
respirator, and it doesn't affect me negatively like the permanent, but
it would be foolish to think that means it's not going to ever affect
me. If I had to choose which process was the most toxic, I would pick
the permanent straightening since I can feel the negative affects
immediately. Also, this might be too much info, but if I do a permanent
straightening without gloves and respirator, I can smell ammonia the
next morning in my urine. Very much like the asparagus phenomena. That
tells me that the ammonia is getting in my system somehow, going
through it, and then coming out. That is scary. I have never noticed
that with the Keratin Treatments, but that certainly doesn't vouch for
We wear gas masks with an attached particle filter, during the Keratin Treatments because during
the flat ironing, a smoke comes off that includes fine little particles
of polymer amongst other things. This is very irritating to breath in.
This particulate clogs up our fans, our window screens, and the backs
of our blowdryers. We don't want it clogging up our lungs.
I new ventilation system is on its way that will "scrub" the air, and hopefully will make wearing a respirator a thing of the past. This new ventilation should be in place my 11/1/15.