Or something like that. Honestly, if my son had accepted his friend’s offer of temporary hair color — pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month — I probably wouldn’t have thought twice about it. But he did, and I am pleasantly surprised by it:
He didn’t have anything pink to wear to school for Spirit Week, so a friend offered him his pink temporary color hair spray.
When my son flipped the can over, he found that the two main ingredients were butane and propane.
He remarked that the WARNING image for the possible effects of the ingredients was bigger than the logo for the product.
And yet, “everybody” was doing it. Also, the spray is available for sale in pharmacies and big box stores, so how dangerous could it be?
But my kid — a Boy Scout who knows how to start and maintain a mean fire — saw “butane” and “propane” and thought, “Maybe I shouldn’t spray that on my head.”
Cosmetics Info explains more about what’s in the can: “Butane, Isobutane, Propane and Isopentane are volatile substances derived from petroleum and natural gas.”
Soooo, hey kids! Want to spray volatile substances on your hair? It’s pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month!
What could that giant WARNING have said? Explains Medline, a service of the National Institutes of Health, and OSHA:
Propane takes the place of oxygen in the lungs, makes breathing difficult or impossible.
Butane’s potential side effects include: Drowsiness, narcosis, asphyxia; cardiac arrhythmia; frostbite from contact with liquid.
Of course, you’d have to inhale quite a bit of the stuff to experience any breathing difficulties or narcosis, also known as temporarily depressing the central nervous system. Some kids even deliberately get high off these ingredients, and some of those kids die from “sudden sniffing death syndrome.”
Whoa, wait a minute. We’re not talking about huffing the stuff. We’re just talking about using it as directed. Manufacturers would point out here that the occasional use of butane and propane sprayed on your head likely won’t cause long-term or even short-time side effects.
Ah, if only we applied just one personal care product on ourselves, once year. But the Environmental Working Group found that people use, on average, nine products with 126 unique ingredients every day.
So when my kid, the son of a cancer survivor, stopped to read the ingredients on a can of hair spray and then decided, “Hmmm. Big Warning label. Nope, not spraying butane and propane on my head,” it made me wonder why more of us aren’t deciding not to jump off the proverbial bridge.
You can check the safety of the ingredients in your personal care products at the Skin Deep Cosmetics Database.