Beauty Treatments Gone Bad
Beauty treatments are always evolving, whether alongside progressing science or just with trends, hemlines and hairstyles. Now more than ever it’s easy to find out about new treatments almost anywhere – through online medical journal, blogs or social networking websites, in magazines, and on TV. With all these sources, it can be confusing trying to separate the safe and legitimate treatments from those that are hyped up, ineffective and dangerous. And it seems that every year, there are even crazier and more absurd treatments that celebrities are trying out to look younger and better. Here, we’ll raise the red flag on what beauty treatments to avoid, or at least research seriously before trying.
Brazilian Blowout Straightening
This procedure, also called a keratin treatment, is used to transform thick, curly, frizzy and wavy hair into smooth and straight hair. While revolutionary to those with lifelong hair-type hatred, Brazilian blowouts have become a hot topic because of one dangerous ingredient. Like many hair treatments, the keratin procedure involves the use of some harsh chemicals; and in this case, the main chemical of concern is formaldehyde. Though there is some debate over which products and brands actually contain formaldehyde, the FDA has said that Brazilian blowout products contain unsafe amounts of the chemical and that claims of formaldehyde-free formulas are untrue.
Why is the FDA so concerned about formaldehyde? First of all, it is a known carcinogen, or cancer-causing agent in humans. The FDA states that the formaldehyde levels in Brazilian blowout products are far too high to be used on or by people. Many European countries have already banned the products. Clients are not the only ones at risk. Hair stylists who perform this procedure are exposed to the chemicals over and over, making it even more risky. Formaldehyde exposure can cause burns to the eyes and skin, breathing difficulties, eye and nervous system disorders, chest pain, vomiting and rashes. If you are considering the treatment, make sure it is at a salon that uses a formaldehyde-free formula. Or better yet, learn to embrace your hair’s natural texture!
Fish Spa Pedicures
This is one of the more interesting beauty treatments available currently. It involves putting your feet into a tub of water filled with lots of little fish called Garra rufa. These toothless carp are also called “doctor fish” because they eat away dead skin on the feet, exposing the newer, fresher skin below. These fish are originally from the Middle East where they were used for the treatment of skin conditions like psoriasis. They have even been shown to help with psoriasis in a scientific study. However, despite these positive results, fish spa pedicures are currently banned in more than 10 states in the United States. But why? The scientific study on psoriasis used a controlled environment to perform their tests. Spas and salons may not be adequately prepared to recreate the safe conditions and may not have employees with enough training to safely perform the procedure. Nail salons already have a history of causes infections via spa pedicure baths.
When the Garra rufa procedure goes wrong, there are a wide variety of consequences. Unclean footbaths are a risk because the fish make it very difficult to clean adequately between pedicures. The fish themselves are used over and over, leading to the possibility of spreading infection from one client to another. Some fish even have antibiotic resistant bacteria that can cause pneumonia and other infections in humans. There are also some dicey legal issues to contend with regarding what constitutes a pedicure (fish are not in the technical definition) and if it is ethical or abusive to use fish in this manner. As with all other beauty procedures, proceed at your own risk and make sure the salon or spa has all the correct licenses, follows regulations, and is clean to the naked eye.
Eyelash Tinting or Dyeing
Many fair-skinned and light-haired ladies are thankful for this procedure, which dyes one’s eyelashes a darker color. This can be convenient, especially in the hot summer months, if you’re in and out of the water or sweating more than usual, and can save time when putting on makeup. But eyelash tinting is not without its risks. Despite claims that are sometimes made, there is no natural or vegetable-based dye that can be used. Dyes that attach color to something, in this case the eyelash, have chemicals in them. And chemicals near such an important and sensitive area as the eye always involve some element of risk. To avoid irritation, allergic reactions or other issues, there are a few things to keep in mind. A patch test on another area of the body to test for allergic reactions can be done ahead of time, 24 to 48 hours before the planned treatment, to test the skin’s reactions to the chemicals used in the dye. Also, it helps to go to a salon that specializes in the treatment or has an esthetician that has performed the procedure many times. It never hurts to inquire about his or her training and experience, to make sure he or she has had adequate instruction on the procedure. And never try to tint or dye at home. Leave it to the professionals.
There are a couple running themes throughout all of these potentially risky procedures. One, salons and spas need to be clean, up-to-date on licenses, and aware of the risks that go along with new treatments and procedures. Secondly, as a client, one needs to be aware of the risks associated with certain treatments and be sure to educate oneself ahead of time. Lastly, while there’s usually nothing wrong with indulging in beauty treatments and trying new procedures now and again, there’s no safer (and cheaper) method than being happy as one is.