Beauty and Public Safety!

July 30, 2016

Like any other business, public safety is vital in the fashion and beauty industry. Last week, we looked at the counterfeit make-up products being sold by some traders in our marketplace and the far reaching consequences of using them on our skin. On one hand, it enhances your beauty and on the other, it poses health risks.

The same goes for the hair and beauty salons. Some of the products used in hair, nail and beauty salons contain a number of hazardous chemicals that may harm your health.  Clients have a right to know what all is applied on their hair, body and face during the procedures performed on them. The threat of a low or substandard grade beauty products being used on you is very real. You can always demand to know the brand of the product, its origin and the contents. After all, the money is going to come out of your pocket.

There is also an expectation that there will be a good standard of hygiene and cleanliness when they visit their salons, barbershops, or beauty parlors.  In short, good hygiene is not so much about a set of rules but an attitude of mind. Just being clean, is not sufficient. All equipment used in the daily business needs to be sterile. Some of these treatments can pose serious health dangers, such as fungal infections, cellulitis, scarring and even an increased risk for cancer down the line.

Since 2011 to date, the Council has received 52 complaints against hairdressers and beauticians. Some cases are eye-openers where consumers have had burns, skin peel-offs, skin irritation, rashes and massive hair loss (alopecia) after undergoing hair or beauty treatments at the salons. Some concerns raised with the Council include the non-disclosure of information about the chemical used, their country of manufacture and the ingredients  used,   use of dirty towels soaked in chemicals and reused on customers at some salons,  used razor blades, scissors and combs not being sterilized and wrong procedures being used on the customers.

One such unfortunate consumer is Swasti who had an ill-fated experience getting her hair straightened at a salon. She suffered burns on her neck and chest area. This was believed to have been caused by the chemicals used on her hair. Swasti had no knowledge about the type of products used, let alone whether the products were fake or genuine. Swasti lodged a complaint with the Council, which then was investigated.  The hair salon refused to compensate her and the matter was then referred to the Small Claims Tribunal.

In another case, Mere visited a beauty clinic for waxing of her upper lips. The entire skin around her lips area was peeled-off during the waxing. According to Mere, the type of wax used and the procedure used to perform waxing was questionable. She filed her complaint with the Council, seeking redress. However, the matter could not be resolved and Mere decided to take the matter to Court.

Australia and New Zealand have laws and guidelines in place that ensure the safety of both the consumers and the service-providers. In Fiji, the Central Board of Health has set some ground rules to be followed by the beauty industry. The rules include: personal hygiene of the hair dressers, provision of fresh and clean face towels, neck protectors, neck cloths, paper towels and any other fabrics which come into contact with the consumers’ skin. All utensils, instruments and appliances must also be sterilized by immersion for at least three minutes in a disinfecting solution. The Board will not issue any new licenses or renew it if any of these rules are breached by the service providers.

However, Fiji needs a law on registration of hairdressers and beauticians.  Such legislation will curb unfair practices and make such professional accountable. At present, the hairdressers in Fiji are not governed by any specific legislation. Hence, they are not held accountable for the various misconducts and malpractices. Having a proper national legislation that requires appropriate registration of hairdressers would mean that consumers will be able to seek adequate redress for any unfair market practices by the hairdressers.