Migraine Problems: Haircuts

Thanks to my extreme sensitivity to odors, getting a haircut often triggers a migraine. Here’s how I’ve learned to avoid salon-induced migraine attacks.

1. Avoid salons that do nails. Need I say more?

2. Go to an Aveda salon. While the scent of Aveda’s products is too strong for me to use on my hair, the scents don’t linger in the air of hair salons. Even the hair coloring chemicals don’t bother me (much). I did a sniff test of all the hair salons within a few miles of my house, none of which were Aveda. Most of them had such a strong odor that I didn’t even have to open the door to know it would trigger a migraine. After smelling all those, I decided the extra time to get to an Aveda salon was worth it.

3. Take your own products. Even though I go to Aveda salons (and think their products smell divine), the long-lasting product scents always trigger migraine attacks, so I always bring my own. Some stylists turn up their noses at my homemade products. They’re usually understanding when I explain why, but I recently broke up with a stylist who was snotty about my obviously inferior products.

4. Try to schedule at a time when the other appointments don’t involve hair color. This one can be difficult, but most salons try to accommodate me, especially if I explain the issue.

5. Shower immediately after the appointment. It’s disappointing to wash out a beautifully styled haircut, but my hair and body pick up product odors just from the stylist touching me.

6. Use a neti pot. This is the newest and most ridiculous thing I have to do after a haircut. My current stylist is incredible, but, even though she uses a modest amount, I can’t escape the smell of her perfume. The scent is pleasant and isn’t strong enough to trigger a migraine while I’m at the salon. Still, it stays with me for hours unless I use a neti pot after I shower. Last week, I had to wash my nose out with a washcloth to eradicate the smell! (But I didn’t get a migraine.)

Do you have any tips for migraine-free haircuts? Please share in a comment!

16 thoughts on “Migraine Problems: Haircuts”

  1. Go to someone who does hair at home like I do. I am a hairdresser and I do it from home for friends and family now, but gave up working in salon due to… wait for it….. MIGRAINES!

  2. Thanks for the tips. I had to ask my hairdresser (tactfully) what days her co-worker, who is loud, didn’t work so I could schedule those days. Thankfully she was very understanding. I find smaller salons are easier for me with fewer sources of noise and scents. My daughter cuts her own hair simply because she can’t fit an appointment into her busy work schedule – she “you-tubed” it and said it turned out great:)

    1. Toni,

      There’s no way I’m cutting my own hair! I have a persnickety pixie cut and know I can’t make it look as good as a professional. I’m impressed that your daughter braved it.


  3. My suggestion is learn to cut your own hair! It is surprisingly easy to do and I have not been to a salon in 42 years! I have had every length from shag to half way down my back and always cut it myself. There are myriad books and probably a lot of info on line too about how to do it yourself. Not only will you avoid all smells and problems associated with a salon, you will get exactly the haircut YOU want and not, as I have experienced, what the stylist wants to do with your hair that day.

  4. I’m fortunate to live in NYC with green/Eco friendly salons. I chose one that doesn’t use chemicals, don’t let them wash my hair (due to scent, they just spritz with water) and I don’t let them put anything on with scent. Putting my kneck backward to have a hair wash often triggered pain so I no longer let them wash my hair.

      1. I have the same issue with leaning back to have my hair washed. My stylist and I talked about it and she asked me to wash my hair at home before I arrive. She just wets it with a spray bottle of water and goes to work. She needs to work with clean hair and it is a great solution for
        me. Her daughter has migraines, so she is very understanding.

      2. Neck extension ALWAYS triggers a migraine for me – however small the extension – whether salon washing, or looking up to prune a tree, or tilting head back while exercising, or sitting improperly. It’s something I constantly have to be aware of.

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