I feel very concerned about allergen control in spas and salons. Whenever I have a facial or manicure, I see rows of products lined up for use on my skin. I come home not knowing exactly what was used, and feeling that I need to be careful not to wipe any residue from my skin onto surfaces in our home.
At my last facial appointment, I came early and asked to read the label on each product. I found one with almond oil and asked that it not be used, since I need to ensure that my peanut and tree nut allergic son isn’t exposed to his allergen by coming in contact with me. I’ve also found products that contain other food allergens, like soy, sunflower, wheat, corn, walnut, and shea (a tree nut).
I relaxed for the facial (I actually fell asleep), and when I got up at the end of it, I saw another bottle on the table. My esthetician had grabbed another lotion and used it for the massage. It not only hadn’t been vetted by me, it didn’t even have an ingredients list!
Well, I had my hair cut and blown straight today, as shown in the above photo. Just before heading to the appointment this morning, I posted this to my wonderful Facebook group:
I don’t want to have product on my hair that could be a risk to my son. I touch my hair constantly, and traces would be on my hands. I tuck him in at night and lay down with him, so I need to know what I’m getting on his pillow. Here are some suggestions from my Facebook readers:
- I have heard of people hiring a hairdresser to come to their house. If they cut all the family members, it’s worth their while. Some part time hairdressers prefer this. ~ Karen B.
- I wash my hair before I go, and the only thing I let them use is water. No spray, no gel, no nothing. ~ Anna G.
- I don’t let them wash my hair or my kids’ hair either. They can use water but that’s it. Otherwise we end up itchy and headachey and have you ever tried applying topical allergy medicine to the scalp? It’s a major pain. ~ Christine K-L
- When I take my boys I don’t let them use product. I tell them why as well as the people around them. I use it as an opportunity to let others know about the hidden ingredients (and I usually refer to almond products). I discuss the labeling laws and then talk to them about being careful with other kiddos, etc. They all seem very thrilled to be listening to me 🙂 ~ Jodie H.
- My mom brings her own. My eyes have swelled shut from some products. For my son who’s allergic to everything, I only let them use water. ~ Elise Y.
- My dad used to use Nioxin (prevents balding), it contains wheat. He has always been so good about not contaminating himself (not kissing my mom when she has lipstick on, everything) but he didn’t want to give up his hair :). So finally when I pointed out that 60% of what you put on your skin is absorbed… He stopped using it and stopped having so many unexplained “contaminations”. A good hair dresser would totally understand if you told her that you have severe allergies and part of being celiac, for many, includes being highly sensitive to smells. Bring your own and thank her/him for taking such good care of you and being so understanding of your condition! Hair dressers are by nature service people, and will be happy to do an extra service that is so simple! Good luck. ~ Sheri R.
- I’ve NEVER thought of doing this. EVER. I have no idea why. I bring my own food to restaurants even haha. I don’t see anything wrong in doing this. Brilliant idea. ~ Leanne V.
Like so many other food allergy parents, I find myself protecting my child and advocating for him in surprising places. Nothing is exempt from my watchful eyes, even when he’s at school and I’m at the spa. It’s just a normal day in the life of a food allergy parent.
If you’re wondering if substances applied to the skin can cause anaphylaxis, they can: “When trying to determine the cause of an anaphylactic reaction, physicians and patients generally consider substances that had been ingested or injected, but may fail to consider agents that had been applied to the skin. However, the systemic absorption of many topically applied substances is well known, and in fact is used as the drug delivery system of choice (via transdermal patches) for such items as nicotine, scopolamine, and hormone replacement therapy. It must therefore be remembered that any topical application that is capable of causing systemic absorption is also capable of provoking systemic IgE mediated allergy—and not just cell-mediated contact dermatitis. Click here to the full article by Dr. Jeffrey Miller.
* If you’re reading this as an e-mail message, to visit my blog to read more articles or to write a comment, click http://blog.onespotallergy.com/2010/11/a-day-at-the-spa-food-allergens-fragrance-and-other-irritants/