Beauty treatments and epilepsy

On this page we look at whether or not certain treatments are safe for people with epilepsy.

And we explain what you can do if you think you’ve been unfairly refused a treatment.

Should I declare my epilepsy before I have a beauty treatment?

Some people are told they can’t have a particular beauty treatment because of their epilepsy. But most of the time, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have access to the same treatments as anyone else.

You don’t have to tell the salon about your epilepsy, if you don’t think it’s relevant. But if you think you might have a seizure during the treatment, it’s a good idea to let the therapist know.

You could discuss any possible risks of the treatment, and let the therapist know how to help you if you have a seizure.

Can a therapist or salon refuse to treat me because of my epilepsy?

The equality laws in the UK protect you from being treated unfairly because of your epilepsy. This includes access to goods and services.

Refusing to treat you because of your epilepsy could be discrimination under the equality laws.

Can certain beauty treatments trigger seizures?

  • Sun beds

    Some people with epilepsy are told the lights in sun beds could trigger a seizure. There’s no evidence that sun beds in good working order can trigger a seizure.

    If the sun bed lights are faulty they could flicker, and this could trigger a seizure if you have photosensitive epilepsy. This is when seizures are triggered by flashing or flickering lights.

    It affects 3 in 100 people with epilepsy. If you have photosensitive epilepsy you could ask staff at the tanning salon to check that the lights are working properly, and not flickering.

  • Treatments using lasers

    Treatments using lasers include laser hair removal, laser skin resurfacing and laser tattoo removal. If you don’t have photosensitive epilepsy, there’s no reason why laser treatment would trigger a seizure.

    If you have photosensitive epilepsy, you may wish to check with the salon if the light used in the treatment flashes or flickers and, if so, if it would be visible to you during the treatment.

    Some salons recommend that if you have photosensitive epilepsy, you wear goggles which block out all light during the treatment.

  • Massage

    There’s no evidence that the action of massage can trigger a seizure. If the massage involves essential oils, you may wish to check which oils the therapist it planning to use.

    Some essential oils are not recommended for people with epilepsy as they could make you more likely to have a seizure. These include rosemary, fennel, sage, eucalyptus, hyssop, camphor and spike lavender.

  • Treatments that involve electricity

    Treatments involving electricity include electrical body toning products, epilators, foot spas and electrolysis.

    There’s no evidence that treatments involving electricity can trigger seizures.

  • Body piercings

    There’s no evidence that getting your ear or any other part of your body pierced can trigger a seizure.

    It’s worth considering that if you have your tongue pierced and still have seizures, the tongue stud could cause injury to your mouth. It’s possible for the studs to damage your teeth during a tonic-clonic seizure.

  • Tattoos

    There’s no evidence that having a tattoo can trigger a seizure.

  • Waxing

    There’s no evidence that waxing can trigger a seizure.

  • Hair dye

    There is no evidence that hair dye can trigger a seizure.

    It is advised to follow the safety instructions and always do a patch test first. This will reduce the risk of having a bad reaction.

  • False nails/manicures

    This can involve using an electronic file for removals and infills.

    There is no evidence that treatments involving electricity can trigger a seizure.

    But if you have uncontrolled seizures, you could discuss with the technician the options of having colour/nails soaked off or manually filed off. This could minimise the risk of injury if you had a seizure during the treatment.

What can I do if I feel I’ve been treated unfairly?

If a salon or therapist refuses to treat you, ask them why. They might have been taught that certain treatments are unsuitable for people with epilepsy. But often this is down to not really understanding the condition.

For example, some therapists believe treatments involving light are unsuitable for all people with epilepsy. This may be due to a mistaken belief that all people with epilepsy have seizures triggered by flashing or flickering lights. If you don’t have photosensitive epilepsy, you could explain this to the therapist. And if you do have photosensitive epilepsy, you may be able to reduce the risk of a seizure by wearing black-out goggles.

The therapist might have concerns about what to do if you have a seizure during the treatment. If this is the case, you could explain how they can help you. It might help to show them our first aid information.

If you’ve talked to the salon and they still refuse to treat you, this could be unlawful discrimination under the equality laws.

The following organisations can give further advice about possible discrimination:

Equality Advisory and Support Service (England, Scotland and Wales)

The Equality Advisory Support Service gives free advice, information and guidance to individuals on equality, discrimination and human rights issues.
Tel. 0808 800 0082

The Equality Commission (Northern Ireland)
The Equality Commission provides advice and information about the Disability Discrimination Act in Northern Ireland.
Tel: 028 90 500 600

Published: March 2021
Last modified: June 2024
To be reviewed: March 2024
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