Perhaps you've walked into your doctor's office ready to offer your educated guess about the cause of—or solution to—the latest thing that’s gone wrong with your body. You feel empowered from your research until your doctor pops your bubble with a sigh and a deflating mutter to the effect of: “Dr. Google doesn’t know everything.” Like many health professionals and organizations, the American Heart Association (AHA) worries that people are taking too much online medical information at face value.
“The internet is great for finding the best Italian restaurant or the cutest kittens,” reads a statement the AHA issued recently. “But finding meaningful answers to important health questions requires a little more caution.”
AHA lists three tips for evaluating online health information:
• Beware of snake oil. Remember that “.com” stands for “commerce.” Anyone claiming to have a miracle cure for anything should be suspect.
• Domains matter. For reliable information that doesn’t have the purpose of trying to sell you something, AHA recommends websites that end in “.gov,” a government website; “.edu,” the designation for a college, university or other institution of higher learning and research; and “.org,” indicating a nonprofit organization.
• Talk to your doctor. At the very least, double check the information with a medical professional who knows your case.
“Always discuss treatment options, medical concerns or any online research with your doctor,” the AHA statement reads. “Get the opinion of a medical professional before following any secondhand advice.”
Even when the information is factual and from a reliable online source, it tends to be general—based on percentages. At the other extreme are true but anecdotal accounts written by victims of rare conditions whose symptoms might seem to mirror yours, but the differences will be obvious to a physician who examines you.
“Not all answers are correct, and not all sources are reliable,” the AHA statement reads. “When it comes to your health, be skeptical and trust only the experts.”
But let’s not trash everything, either. Healthy Hairdresser is an online health resource, too! And many beauty industry pros blog in hopes of educating and inspiring hairdressers to be healthy.
“The beauty industry is full of blogs and podcasts that will feed you inspiration and ideas to get motivated,” says Jennie Wolff, a member of our Healthy Hairdresser Advisory Council and VP of marketing and education for Sola Studios.
“I curate and edit the Sola Blog with marketing and business tips ranging from social media to developing partnerships, lifestyle posts such as simple yoga routines and the power of gratitude, plus inspirational stories about successful, independent salon owners who are living the life they love,” Wolff says. “Our blogs are geared toward all beauty professionals—not just those who own salons at Sola. I also recommend following Nina Kovner of Passion Squared for a daily dose of awesome and her Mon-day newsletter that provides positive inspiration to start your week.”
Jaclyn Ceron and Kerry Corp, AKA "The Fit Hairdresser" and "The Grounded Chic," respectively, are two professionals blurring the lines of beauty/well-being/health and applying the skills they have as hairdressers to expand their focus as well as their sources of income. A solo artist in Camarillo, California, Ceron launched thefithairdresser.com to motivate people to become healthier.
Ceron’s fitness journey began after facing multiple personal issues at the time of the birth of her second child three years ago. During the pregnancy, she watched her mother go through chemotherapy, and her son was born with a heart defect followed by some developmental delays. It all added up to a lot of stress for Ceron. At 60 pounds overweight, she knew she had to do something.
“I told myself I was going to invest in myself, so I started doing the 21-day Fix fitness program, which came with workout programs, a calendar and a clean-eating guide,” Ceron says. “I followed women online who had their own issues, and together we became a community.”
After losing 62 pounds, Ceron wanted to create a community of her own, and The Fit Hairdresser was born. She splits her week between working on the online business and doing hair while also finding time to get acupuncture and massages. Ceron hopes to one day open a full salon, but she stays mindful of the pitfalls of her schedule.
“Hairdressers are on the go all the time,” she says. “We eat lunch between clients. Earlier in my life, I opted for the shakes full of chemicals. The minute you stop eating those, you gain back all the weight. Today I’m a big believer in portioning your food, eating clean and the 80/20 rule—so if I want that slice of pizza, I have it. From suffering with negative self-talk and low self-esteem, I’ve finally learned to allow myself small indulgences. It always comes down to your ‘why.’ My ‘why’ is that I want to be alive for my kids and feel good for them. I feel like I found my calling; I’m living my purpose.”
In Melbourne, Australia, hairdresser Kerry Corp found her way to health also after a pregnancy, when she was failing physically from digestive problems and mentally from burnout. Through support from her family and a health coach, she gradually changed the way she was eating and moving. She switched from owning a busy salon and working long hours to opening a small, home-based salon where she can focus on one client at a time.
“Today I feel amazing, in vibrant health and thriving,” Corp says. After taking courses in health coaching at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City, she launched thegroundedchic.com to offer recipes and online classes to women everywhere.
Her advice to hairdressers includes:
• Slow down! Take breaks during the workday.
• Take time to eat. Chew food thoroughly, and don’t skip meals.
• Eat real food, not processed food, and don’t rely on sugar and refined carbs for energy.
• Drink water.
• Stretch/do yoga.
• Reduce stress by accepting that you might not please every client.
•Avoid breathing in chemicals.
Ceron and Corp describe the results of their journeys identically—that they feel "more like me again" now that they're fit, nourished and enjoying life. That's the goal when you're looking for health information online or anywhere.