In our society, women and men tend to care a
lot about their appearances and to enhance their appearance many go to salons. This
means a cosmetologist is always working. The definition of a cosmetologist is a
person who provides beauty treatments, which can refer to skin, hair and nails.

Cosmetologists aid customers to enhance their appearance by executing many
services. These services include washing, cutting, and styling hair, facials,
threading and waxing eyebrows and body hair, and manicures and pedicures.

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Sonia, the cosmetologist who was interviewed, partakes in all of these jobs
plus owning and managing her own salon.

Many people believe a job in cosmetology is
an easy career with a lot of personal interactions, a flexible schedule and
place where you can express your creativity. However, there are many health
hazards and challenges that this field faces. Cosmetologists often work with
beauty products that contain many chemicals and substances leading to chemical
exposure. They also usually run around doing different and multiple tasks at a
time such as hair and skin care. Many cosmetologists go through the risks of
infections. These risks include contact to cuts, injures or burns from
scissors, hair tools, chemicals and other equipment. Ergonomic injuries are
also often involved due to repetitive motion injuries, standing for long hours
and working in staggered shifts. Verbal abuse from clients is also another challenge
that cosmetologist go through. All of these challenges and hazards could lead
to stress. Abundant studies show that job stress is a leading source of stress
for American adults and that it has intensified gradually over the past few
years and this is especially common in the field of cosmetology.   

Stress is something that affects many people
each and every day and is unfortunately very common. Life is typically filled
with a lot of troubles, goals, hindrances, and demands. For some people stress is
so common, it is a way of life and it can also be seen in one’s job. Occupational
stress also known as work related stress has been rising as one of the main
causes of harmful symptoms of mental health in recent job societies.  Many people get symptoms of depression,
anxiety, and other adverse mental health effects due to the causes of excessive
pressures and demands placed on individuals at work (Johnson, 2005). While
certain workplace stress is normal, extreme stress can hinder with efficiency
and performance, influence physical and emotional health, and can even affect relationships
and life at home. With that said, it can also be the reason how one can either succeed
or fail at their job. Cosmetology workers, especially go through this type of
stress every day.

One of the many challenges of cosmetology is
building a solid and constant clientele, which takes a lot of time, effort, willpower,
and patience. Chemistry and comfortableness between cosmetologists and their
clients is a time-consuming task that may take many years to develop. Cosmetologists
partake in a lot of face-to-face and face-to-body interactions with customers. So,
cosmetologists must be reliable, friendly, caring, trustworthy and all together
a well-rounded person (Hill, 2010). This could be especially stressful if the
clients are problematic and unhappy. Cosmetologists are expected to remain calm
at these instances. No matter how stressful or challenging a cosmetologist day
may be, they must always carry a smile on their faces. This can be especially tough
during onerous times in their lives.  They
also must be careful with whatever they are doing for and to the clients. The possibility
of making a mistake, offending and displeasing clients, and even coworkers, and
losing them increases a cosmetologist’s job stress.

Another challenge for cosmetologists is the
hours they work. Although the hours are adaptable and frequently work well with
family schedules, self-employed cosmetologists who manage their own salons,
similar to Sonia, usually work more hours and nights and sacrifice their weekends
to accommodate their clients’ schedules. This can especially happen if a
long-time client has an upcoming event in their lives and must need an urgent
appointment, so cosmetologist must work around their schedules causing stress.

Good health and energy are important characteristics
for cosmetologists, however, they are many health effects
that come with this demanding career that could lead to physical stress. Many
ergonomic injuries are caused cause of this career. Extended periods of recurring
motions stress body parts in cosmetology workers. Threading and cutting hair can
be the causes of many injuries. Most common injuries are wrist and back
injuries due to prolonged periods of time in awkward body postures and
undergoing repetitive hand movements. This usually leads to musculoskeletal
disorders among many women cosmetologists, such as bursitis, carpal tunnel
syndrome, pinched nerves and varicose veins. Other symptoms are also present
such as back and shoulder pain, eye strain, and headaches (Kishi, 2002).

can be exposed to a variety of chemicals on a daily basis, due to their
inhalation and usage of hair products, shampoos, hair dyes, hair sprays, nail
polish, and wax every day, all day which is another health effect that can lead
to stress. Nail specialists respire solvents such as formaldehyde in nail polish
and acetone in nail polish remover. Filing acrylic nails, transporting the ensuing
dust into the air around them is also another part of their job that harms them.

Hairdressers handle and inhale vapors from dying, bleaching and styling
products. Chemical relaxers, permanent wave solutions and hair sprays also exhibit
danger to many parts of the body especially eyes, skin and lungs. Significant, continued
and frequent exposure to these substances, supports the development of asthma,
contact allergies and inflammation of the skin, which is also known as
dermatitis. Salons also have other hazards like the possibility for
slip-and-fall injuries. Hair and nail products such as sprays and excess hair can
make floors slippery. Typically, unkempt areas and ill lit rooms also increase
the risk for this type of injury. Being aware and taking action to these health
hazards can lead to stress in a cosmetology worker.

on observation and the interview, adequate controls are being used in Sonia’s
workplace to reduce stress. Controls such as substitution, engineering,
administrative/behavioral and personal protective equipment are performed. Substitution
such as less hazardous chemicals are used in her salon. I noticed that many
products were labeled, and were kept away clean and sterilized. For engineering
controls, ventilation is an important matter in her salon. She has two doors, four
windows and on hot days, two fans. This proves that she has enough ventilation in
her salon and the many chemicals that are used in the salon aren’t in the air
as much and gives the workers less exposure to them. Ventilation is the best
way to lower the level of chemicals in a salon.

control are also overseen, a few examples are Sonia’s workers are mandated to
clean up right after each task; extra products should not lie around the
workstation; lunch isn’t in the same area as the salon, therefore food is not
in the work area; not everyone uses the equipment’s at the same time and
thereby distributing the exposure, and tools are sterilized after every use. I
also noticed during my interview that Sonia and her fellow hairdresser carried
sharp objects such as scissors but the scissors were pointed toward the floor
and this simple behavioral task can reduce the risks of cuts and accidents. Personal
protective equipment’s are also used depending on the task. Non-open toed shoes
and an apron is required in her salon. Like Sonia mentioned, non-open toed
shoes are best for the workplace because injuries could occur, such as the falling
of the equipment and possible punctures of the sole of the feet, therefore it
is a necessity for her and her workers. When doing facials and skin care a new
pair of gloves are used. Sonia and her coworkers also use a face mask when doing
nails. One improvement I would suggest is to wear personal protective equipment
when doing hair. Sonia had mentioned personal protective equipment is not used
other than the apron and non-open toed shoes when doing hair jobs. I believe
wearing gloves could go a long way because dermal exposure could transpire
because of the hair products being used. Even though most of the controls seem minor
and apparent, these are huge factors in lowering stress levels at a workplace.

            Based on my findings of my health hazard evaluation, I
believe Sonia’s health is not severely affected by the workplace hazards,
especially stress. Yes, she does own her own salon, and does most of the duties,
but it seems as if she has everything under control, so her stress levels seem
low. In a more personal note, I have been getting my facials, threading and
waxing, haircuts and nails from Sonia for many years now and I believe she is a
well-rounded person. I have never seen her unorganized and she is always on
time for her customer appointments. She also always seems to manage her
emotions, even in difficult situations and practice good habits such as having
a positive attitude and safety patterns. This is probably because she’s been
doing this job for years and learned how to balance work and her business. The
chemicals in the salon seem safe due to the labeling and hopefully there are no
underlying future health problems. Sonia practices adequate controls in her
business and in result, work related stress is low among her and her workers.

workers, specifically cosmetologists often suffer from health hazards,
especially work-related stress and this can be harmful to both employees and
the business. This problem of work-related stress can undoubtedly be fixed by
appropriate action plans and attention from the management. Even though
addressing work related stress can be perplexing, it can also be a step in the
right direction for positive change. This change could lead to better and more dynamic
relationships at work and for increased creativity and productivity.


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