Hairdressing chemicals/protective gloves

Project No. BGIA 3084


completed 05/2005


Physical contact with chemicals which are offensive and hazardous to health is unavoidable in many hairdressing activities. The employees concerned are advised to wear suitable protective gloves for certain tasks, such as bleaching and dyeing of hair, and permanent waving. Protective gloves - generally disposable sheer film gloves - are frequently supplied with such chemical products; their protective value is however often questionable and unproven. Certain typical and widely used hairdressing chemicals were used to study the chemical resistance to permeation of both disposable gloves supplied with hairdressing products, and selected certified gloves which enjoy wide user acceptance, against EN 374-3, "Protective gloves against chemicals and micro-organisms - Part 3: Determination of resistance to permeation by chemicals", hairdressing chemicals.


Twelve selected glove types manufactured from CPE (polyethylene copolymers), vinyl (PVC, vinyl acetate), nitrile and latex of varying composition and material thickness were each subjected to permeation tests with multiple measurements involving five common preparations (oxidative hair dye/peroxide solution, bleaching powder/peroxide solution, direct dye, fixing solution, permanent-wave solution) at 33 °C according to the practical approach based upon DIN EN 374-3:2003. In the interests of practical relevance, the measurement duration did not exceed 120 minutes. The detection methods employed had first to be developed and tested separately. Permeation by the hazardous substance was then assessed by reference to the straight calibration lines irrespective of the first permeating substance.


For the majority of applications - in this case, the hair dye, the bleaching powder, and the direct dye - gloves manufactured from nitrile yielded the best results. Permeation by test substance was detectable after only a few minutes on the glove materials manufactured from vinyl and CPE (thin-film gloves). The results for gloves manufactured from latex lay between these two extremes. The lead compound selected for detection of penetration by the first two preparations was ammonia, and for the direct dye, benzyl alcohol.

The fixing solution was tested for hydrogen peroxide as the lead compound. Gloves manufactured from CPE and latex exhibited the highest chemical resistance in this case: permeation of the material was not detectable by the method employed even after 120 minutes. The results yielded by the gloves manufactured from nitrile and vinyl were somewhat poorer, the first of these two being the better by a small margin. The thinnest nitrile glove exhibited the lowest penetration time of all gloves tested during the project. Permeation was not detectable on any of the glove types within the first 10 minutes.

A test was performed for thioglycolic acid as the main constituent of the permanent-wave solution. The best result in this case was returned by the latex glove (no penetration after 120 minutes). This was followed by the CPE and nitrile gloves. The vinyl gloves exhibited the shortest permeation times. Once again, no permeation was detected on any of the gloves within the first 10 minutes.

The results show that the glove materials studied here differ considerably in the protection they offer against the various compounds. The permeation rates measured are also influenced by the material thickness. Based upon the results of this study, suitable assessment criteria are to be defined for recommendations for gloves suitable for practical use. These criteria are also to address the toxicological relevance of individual substances within the compounds employed with regard to the maximum wear time.

Further informations:

Last Update:

8 Mar 2006


Financed by:
  • Hauptverband der gewerblichen Berufsgenossenschaften (HVBG)
  • Berufsgenossenschaft für Gesundheitsdienst und Wohlfahrtspflege
  • Industrieverband Körperpflege und Waschmittel (IKW)
Research institution(s):
  • Berufsgenossenschaftliches Institut für Arbeitsschutz - BGIA

health service

Type of hazard:

dangerous substances


Chemische Arbeitsstoffe, Persönliche Schutzausrüstung, Prüfverfahren

Description, key words:

hairdressing trade, bleaching, dyeing, permanent waving, protective gloves, permeation, EN 374-3, hairdressing chemicals