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Beauty blazes: be sure to switch off

April 19th 2013 / Anna Hunter

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London Fire Brigade

Anna Hunter reports on the increase of fires caused by our beauty regimes

We’ve all experienced the ‘did I leave the iron on?’ panic, but modern beauty routines seem to be adding to this familiar fear, and rightly so. The London Fire Brigade today issued a warning about ‘beauty blazes’, prompted by an increase in household fires caused by beauty appliances and bathroom candles.

New figures show that there is a ‘beauty blaze’ every fortnight in the capital, with the latest fire caused by a hairdryer left on a bed in Harrow this week. Straighteners, tongs and vanity mirrors are also culprits when it comes to beauty related fires, and the brigade is urging people to take more care when getting ready or winding down. According to Tom George, Acting Deputy Head of Community Safety at London Fire Brigade:

“Candles are popular in the bathroom, but if they’re not placed on a heatproof surface they can melt through your bath or toilet. This is especially important with tea-lights, which get very hot on the bottom.”

MORE GLOSS: The bedhead tousle

Open flames aren’t the only cause for concern, as Tom stresses that heat stylers can be just as dangerous when left unattended:

“Many of the straighteners available today can reach temperatures of over 200 degrees Celsius, which is hotter than the oil in a deep fat fryer, so it’s vital that people take care.”

The damage caused by leaving styling tools on has been all too apparent of late, with a photo of a pair of burnt straighteners posted on the Brigade’s Facebook page going viral, having now been seen by 4.3 million people.

Other causes of ‘beauty blazes’ are less obvious. Fires have been started by vanity mirrors exposed to sunlight, as the mirrors can magnify the sun’s rays and concentrate heat, causing nearby fabrics to ignite. Leaving cans of hairspray and other aerosols near heated appliances and candles can also cause explosive house fires. Your beauty regime just got scary.

Tom’s tips for avoiding such grooming infernos are as follows:

  • Hairdryers, hair tongs and straighteners can get extremely hot, so it’s very important to remember to switch them off and leave them to cool on a heatproof surface, such as a cork mat.
  • Shaving or make-up mirrors should be kept away from direct sunlight, along with any canisters, such as deodorant or hairspray.
  • Candles need to be placed on a surface that can’t melt or catch fire, such as a ceramic plate. Always blow them out when you leave the room, and never leave them burning without supervision.


We’d like to add a few Glossy safety tips to the above. Many modern straighteners, although exceptionally hot, come with heat protective guards that not only save your surfaces but also minimise the risk of a fire. Using them is key, and purchasing a styling tool with an auto shut-off or sleep mode is advisable.

We love ghd tools, which switch off after 30 minutes of inactivity. Other brands that incorporate auto shut-off functions in styling tools include Babyliss, Corioliss and Remington, however not all sleep modes are made equal.

Cheaper, basic models tend not to shut off automatically at all, while Remington tools only switch off after 60 minutes. Any auto shut-off mode can minimise the risk of a blaze, but there’s no substitute for good old-fashioned vigilance. Check, then check again. Safety first Glossies.

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