Having your hair washed and cut professionally is a relaxing and luxurious time for the most of us. But what if having your hair washed can kill you? Rest assured there’s no need to cancel your next hair salon appointment but there is something of which you should be aware the next time you find your neck over-extended into the bowl your beautician uses to wash your hair. It’s called Beauty Parlor Stroke Syndrome and seniors are more vulnerable to it than the general population. And although it’s rare, it’s occurred enough times to warrant more investigation.

What is beauty parlor stroke syndrome?

Peter Gloviczki, M.D., who is a vascular surgeon at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, states Beauty Parlor Stroke Syndrome can happen when there is an “injury, tear, or blood clot in one of the four major arteries that go to the brain”. This can happen when your stylist shampoos your hair, hyperextending your neck into the shampoo bowl, causing compression of one of those four arteries. It can create a blood clot that eventually travels to your brain where it causes a stroke. Sometimes the pressure is even great enough that the cervical vertebrae can sever an artery. The medical term for the syndrome is iatrogenic vertebral artery injury and is rare but when found, is greater among seniors with pre-existing conditions like atherosclerosis and those with a sensitive arterial lining.

One usually doesn’t experience Beauty Parlor Stroke Syndrome immediately after having their hair washed and cut. A few days later, one might experience regular stroke symptoms like dizziness, migraine-type headaches, some loss of vision, neck swelling, neck pain, muscle slackness, lack of coordination, nausea, and blurred vision.

Having your hair washed is not the only act that can cause this. Doctors note it can also occur with stretching, yoga, sneezing, vomiting, painting a ceiling; anything that hyperextends your neck for a period of time.

One study published in 2002 examined these symptoms in 25 volunteers who had previously reported issues during salon shampoos. Among this population, significant carotid blood flow and neck pain were reported but the symptoms were also significantly reduced when additional cervical support was applied, such as having a towel placed under their neck.

How to prevent beauty parlor stroke syndrome

Let’s keep our salon time relaxing and nourishing. Ask your stylist if they’ve ever heard about the syndrome and if so, ask what they’ve done to prevent it occurring with their clientele. If they claim not to have heard about it, educate them! There have already been a few lawsuits against beauty parlors and your beautician may thank you later for helping them avoid a financial catastrophe.

In the meantime, if you feel your neck is being hyperextended the next time you have your hair shampooed, ask for a towel and place it under your neck.

Your neck will thank you.


1. Beauty Parlor Stroke Syndrome. Mercola.

2. Is Beauty Parlor Stroke Syndrome a Real Thing? American Council on Science and Health.

3. Beauty Parlor Stroke Syndrome Can Be Caused by a Simple Hair Wash.