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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 23  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 20-23

Hair smoothing treatments: Perceptions and wrong practices among females in Saudi Arabia

Department of Dermatology, College of Medicine, Princess Nourah Bint Abdulrahman University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Faten Abdullah Albukhari
Department of Dermatology, College of Medicine, Princess Norah Bint Abdulrahman University, Riyadh
Saudi Arabia
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jdds.jdds_14_18

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Introduction: In the last few years, smoothing hair treatments has taken the Saudi cosmetic industry by storm, all containing various levels of formaldehyde, a classified carcinogen by The World Health Organization (WHO), International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division (Oregon OSHA). With the lack of studies –in Saudi Arabia and worldwide- the level of public awareness and their malpractice is questionable. Materials and Methods: Online and paper self-administered questionnaires were distributed over 1039 females. Including questions assessing knowledge on hair treatments, previous experiences and side effects. Results: (60%) of participant had a poor knowledge score. When asked if formaldehyde is a carcinogen, (70.5%) did not know and (5.1%) answered incorrectly. (33.5%) of participants had done hair treatments before, but (52.3%) didn't read about them prior. The major motive was to facilitate hair management (76.1%). (57.5%) of participants said their hair wasn't examined before the treatment, and only (31%) applied scalp barriers. Flat irons were used in most cases (83.6%). Most importantly, (55.2%) did not know if the product used contains formaldehyde, and (15.2%) used formaldehyde-containing products. The majority (74.7%) reported having side effects, mostly hair fall (56.9%) and dandruff (30.5%). When asked if they would consider using hair treatments again, (61.2%) said no, mainly because of the damage and side effects (90.6%). Limitations: Majority of participants being from the central region of Saudi Arabia and the limited older age group (9.6%). Conclusion: Recently, in 2016, the Saudi Food and Drug Authority published a warning article on four products found in local markets containing high levels of formaldehyde. This shows the lack of industrial supervision and consumers protection and the need of strict monitoring regimens in stores and beauty salons. Future studies should be applied in assessing the public's misconceptions and practices, along with campaigns and social media efforts to raise the overall knowledge.

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