Hair salon stroke syndrome: fact or fiction?

September 26, 2018

Are your clients at risk of having stroke syndrome as a result of having their hair washed at your salon? And what steps can you take to safeguard your clients and your business?

Statistically rare

“Hair salon stroke syndrome, also known as beauty parlour syndrome, is very rare,” explains NHF chief executive Hilary Hall. “However, it can have life-changing consequences for the individuals who are affected.”

What is hair salon stroke syndrome?

“Tilting the head too far back during hair washing can restrict blood flow to the brain,” says Hilary. “In vulnerable individuals, this will result in an increased possibility of suffering a stroke. It can be difficult for salons to identify who may be vulnerable and at risk of having a stroke,” says Hilary.

“The over-50s are probably more at risk, especially those with neck arthritis, as well as clients who smoke, or have high blood pressure, high cholesterol, artery disease or diabetes. However, it’s good practice to protect all your clients.”

Protecting your clients

“We recommend taking some key steps to guard against stroke risk,” advises Hilary. “For example, always use a cushion or pad under the neck to avoid over-extension and don’t spend too long or repeated periods of time backwashing your client’s hair at the sink.”

It’s best to wash hair at an angle of no more than 20 degrees and always check that your client feels comfortable. If not, offer a front-facing wash.

Be alert to the signs of a stroke

Although extremely rare, don’t assume this will never happen in your salon. Make sure all your staff know what signs to look out for and what action they should take.

“Warning signs vary from person to person but can include a drooping eye or mouth, loss of vision, dizziness, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, nausea, vomiting, or slurred speech. Call 999 immediately so your client receives medical care as soon as possible,” says Hilary.

Protect your business

The number of claims against salons for hair salon stroke syndrome is starting to rise.

“Check with your insurance provider to make sure you will be covered in the unlikely event that you face a claim of this type,” says Hilary.


The NHF offers a range of business support services for salons, from legal, employment and financial guidance to discounted insurance and expert advice for managing people and boosting your business: