Irish authorities have been asked to look at whether it is feasible to introduce a licensing scheme for hairdressers to protect the health of their customers.
The Health Services Executive (HSE) has been tasked with setting out a vision of what a licensing system for hairdressing and other hair care services might look like.
The agency’s chief executive, Paul McHugh, said the issue has been on the minds of the HSE for some time and that the idea of licensing was one that was being considered.
“I don’t think we have an answer,” he said.
“We have to take the view that licensing in itself is not going to be a panacea.”
The issue of licensing has been in the news recently after a young woman was left hospitalised after being sprayed with a mixture of bleach and hydrogen peroxide, after she complained about hair being pulled up around her face.
She was treated at St Michael’s Hospital and is now recovering.
“This is the first time I have ever been treated for this sort of thing,” she said.
“The chlorine and bleach were actually doing more harm than good.”
She also pointed to concerns that hair care products could be contaminated with chemicals used in cosmetics, as well as that the use of chemicals could result in infections.
The HSE said there were many factors that could contribute to hair loss, including the temperature of the salon and the temperature used.
The company said the use or misuse of certain chemicals, as a result of which the hair may be pulled, could be a factor, but it added that it was “not at the level of concern”.
The HSE also highlighted concerns that there was a lack of information about what would be covered by a licensing plan and said it was not yet clear how this would be implemented.
There is also a lack a clear definition of haircare services.
Currently, hairdresser licenses are only available for licensed hairdressering companies.
The government has also made clear that licensed hairdresses are not exempt from licensing requirements, but the licensing system will need to be more flexible to deal with other types of hair care.
An initial consultation on the licensing scheme was opened in June, with the government’s minister for health, Leo Varadkar, recently inviting stakeholders to give their views on the matter.
Mr Varadker also said the process could take “some time” to finalise.
A licensing system would be a big step forward, Mr McHugh said.
“It’s one of the most important things for people who work with hair.
It can have a huge impact on the quality of life,” he added.”
I think that it will be quite a big issue to be tackled in the next six months.”
The process to introduce licensing for hair is being overseen by the Hairdressers Association of Ireland, the body representing the hairdressing industry.
Its chief executive Paul McHuff said the licensing regime was one of several issues that needed to be addressed in order to ensure the health and wellbeing of customers.
“Licensing is an important part of any licensing system and there are many aspects to it, but there is no silver bullet,” he explained.
As the licensing process continues, Mr Varadaker is also looking at ways to streamline the process for companies who want to introduce hair care into their businesses.
In addition to licensing for licensed businesses, there are other aspects to be considered in order for new hair care companies to be eligible for a licence.
Mr McHugh has said that the licensing will also be an opportunity for those who are not licensed to apply for a new licence.
In an attempt to encourage new hairdressings to be included, he said he would be meeting with the head of the Hairdressing Council of Ireland to discuss how they could apply to be covered under a licensing regime.
The process is expected to be completed in the coming weeks.