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Neurologists: Visiting Your Hairdresser Could Result In A Stroke (And It Has Nothing To Do With Chemicals)

Almost everyone thinks the sinks at the hair salon are a bit painful; it’s got a groove for your neck, but it’s still oh-so-uncomfortable. There’s actually something much more serious at stake than discomfort. Your hairdresser might be putting you at risk of getting a Beauty Parlor Stroke.

“A what?” It’s a stroke caused by damage to the blood vessels in your neck, as a result of the strain and jerky movements the salon’s shampoo sink creates. One woman noticed sudden weakness in her left arm and left leg about a week after a trip to her hair salon. Then, in about another week, she was rushed to the hospital with nausea, projectile vomiting, and a head that was hot to the touch. The doctors confirmed that she had suffered a stroke.

Scary but true, neurologists from Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Lausanne, Switzerland  recently reported:

“Hairdresser-related ischemic cerebrovascular events (HICE) are attributed to compression of vertebral arteries or cervical artery dissections…HICE may occur frequently in females without a predilection for the posterior circulation.  Although some HICE may occur by chance (pseudo-HICE), hairdresser visits may have a causal role in some cases, including cervical artery dissection or hemodynamic compromise related to pre-existing arterial disease (true HICE).”

What Is A Stroke?

A stroke can occur when there’s restricted oxygen in the brain. When a blood vessel is blocked or damaged, it leads to abnormal blood flow or even clotting. This reduced blood flow makes its way to the brain and kills brain cells. The physical consequences depend on which region of the brain was affected.

For example, damage to the left side of the brain can lead to problems with speech and language or problems on the right side of the body. Damage to the right side of the brain can lead to vision loss or problems on the left side of the body.

Stroke is the #5 most common cause of death in the USA. Stroke victims are 40% men and 60% women, and the risk of stroke increases with age. Still, 80% of strokes could have been prevented!

Symptoms of stroke:

  • One-sided weakness
  • Drooping face
  • Impaired speech (may sound intoxicated)
  • Loss of vision, double vision, or spinning vision

Stroke Prevention

In the Hair Salon

Protect your neck! Make sure your hairdresser washes your hair in a sink that is comfortable for your height, or in an adjustable chair. Always rest the back of your neck on at least one folded towel (more is better) to minimize the strain.

At Home

  1. Manage your blood pressure. Blood pressure is the largest preventable factor in getting strokes. Keeping your high blood pressure in check can make one of the biggest differences of stroke prevention.
  2. Have a balanced, healthy diet. If you’re eating foods that are too high in trans fat, cholesterol, and sodium, you’re increasing your risk of a stroke every day. Instead, focus on eating whole foods with healthy fat contents, flavor your meals with salt alternatives,  and watch your sugar intake. For more tips, you can check out this article.
  3. Get active! It’s not only about what you put in your body, and it’s about what you do with it. If your daily lifestyle lacks exercise, you increase your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

If you, or anyone around you, start to experience the symptoms of a stroke, seek medical attention immediately! The faster you respond to the warning signs, the better your chances of survival and recovery.


Mahlmeister, Chrissy. “People Are Having Strokes At Hair Salons And This Is Why”. BuzzFeed. N.p., 2016. Web. 7 June 2017.

 “Understanding Stroke Risk”. American Stroke Association. Web. 7 June 2017.

Correia PN, Meyer IA, Eskandari A, Michel P. Beauty parlor stroke revisited: An 11-year single-center consecutive series. International Journal of Stroke. 2016 Apr;11(3):356-60.