Top 10 beauty health hazards

How looking good can be bad for you

We all like to look our best, but did you know your beauty routine could be bad for you? From salon treatments to everyday beauty procedures, check out the top 10 beauty health hazards.

Beauty health hazard 1: Eyeliner

Eyeliner has been around for centuries and is popular with many women as a way to frame eyes and make them stand out. However, although in most cases eyeliner is no cause for concern, applying any product so close to your eyes can come with its risks. Not only are many eyeliners made up of chemicals which can cause irritation, but applying the product too close to the inner corners of your eyes can lead to blocked tear ducts. To keep your eyes healthy, use a natural kohl eyeliner, avoid applying too close to the tear ducts, and replace your eyeliner after three months.

Eye makeup

Beauty health hazard 2: Tight ponytails

You may not think about your health when considering how to wear your hair, but your hairdo not only affects how you look, it can also affect how you feel. Wearing your hair in a tight ponytail can strain the connective tissue in the scalp, leading to headaches as well as hair breakage and loss. Wearing your hair in a tight braid and wearing headbands can also have similar effects. If you feel a headache coming on, let your hair down to help ease the symptoms.

Beauty health hazard 3: Hair dye

While ditching your hair dye may seem like a scary prospect, continuing to color your hair could have even more frightening results. The chemical para-phenylenediamine (PPD) is thought to be behind up to 80 per cent of allergic reactions to hair dye. While most of these reactions are relatively minor, including blisters and skin sores, PPD has been linked to more serious conditions such as permanent hair loss and, in rare cases, even death – although this link has yet to be confirmed. As allergies to PPD can develop at any time, it is important to perform a patch test every time you color your hair. It may also be worth swapping to safer chemical-free or wash-out dyes.

Beauty health hazard 4: Hair straightening products

Many women opt for salon straightening treatments to help keep curly or unruly hair poker straight for months at a time. However, in 2011 the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a health warning over the risks of exposure to the carcinogen formaldehyde found even in straightening products listed as formaldehyde-free. Whilst salon workers who regularly use these products are at the most risk, it is still wise to avoid the dangerous chemical by manually straightening hair with blow-drying and straightening irons instead.

Beauty health hazard 5: Mascara

Mascara can harbor bacteria that is transferred into the product after each application and which can reproduce in the dark, warm environment of the mascara tube, potentially leading to eye infections. To help reduce the health risks associated with your mascara, make sure you store your mascara in a cool place and replace it after three months. Also, avoid applying your mascara in the car or on a journey as the motion can cause scratches to the eye during application which can also lead to infections.

Beauty health hazard 6: Lipstick

Apparently the average woman eats four to nine pounds of lipstick in her lifetime. Given that a 2004 study revealed that up to 28% of lipsticks contain chemicals that can cause cancer, this is a pretty scary statistic. A 2007 study by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics also found that more than 50 per cent of lipstick brands tested contained lead. Look after your health by switching to natural, organic brands of lipstick, particularly if pregnant.

Woman applying lipstick

Beauty health hazard 7: Fish pedicures

In the last few years, fish pedicures have soared in popularity across the world, with people flocking to doctor fish spas for help with psoriasis, eczema or simple pedicures in which the fish nibble away at dead skin to leave areas smooth and soft. However, just as quickly as popularity grew, health reports were issued over the perceived dangers of this treatment. Reports state that fish pedicures could spread viruses such as HIV and hepatitis. While the risk is thought to be low, it is advised that those who carry a blood-borne virus, have any open cuts, or who have recently waxed or shaved their legs should avoid getting this treatment.

Beauty health hazard 8: Shared beauty products

It can be tempting to borrow your friend’s lipstick when you’ve forgotten your own or to lend your best pal your mascara when she asks, however sharing your makeup can also mean sharing infections. It is impossible to tell by looking at someone if they have an infection as some viruses can be contagious even before they begin to show. Sharing lipstick could lead to catching cold sores, while eye makeup is the most risky and can lead to eye infections such as the extremely contagious conjunctivitis. If you must share makeup, minimize risk by wiping off the top layer before use.

Beauty health hazard 9: Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids

You may not have heard of Alpha and Beta Hydroxy Acids (AHAs and BHAs) but they are commonly used in many beauty products, including anti-wrinkle and acne creams. Both AHAs and BHAs act as skin exfoliants, sloughing off dead skin cells. However, alongside potential side effects such as burning, swelling and skin irritation, the chemicals have a fairly dangerous side effect in that they drastically increase the risk of UV skin damage, therefore increasing risk of skin cancer. If you must use these products, make sure you use a high SPF daily to minimize risk of sun damage. However, exfoliating skin with natural skin scrubs may offer a gentler solution to applying acids.

Beauty health hazard 10: False nails

While false nails applied properly should pose little risk to your health, long term use, or using cheap acrylic or poorly fitted nails, can damage the nail bed, lead to fungal infections between the false and natural nail and lead to natural nails coming off. Furthermore, some nail bars use acrylic nail products containing the chemical methyl methacrylate (MMA), which has been linked to respiratory problems and severe allergic reactions. Reports have also suggested that over-exposure to the ultra-violet lamps used to fix artificial nails can also increase risk of skin cancer.


Comments (2)

  • Topaz 'Several inaccuracies in this article: 1. Kohl is not less likely to block tearducts than any other type of eyeliner. It is the act of drawing any cosmetic so close to tearducts that is likely to do so, and at any rate the risk is extremely low. 2. Air breathed in from cities also contains chemicals that can cause cancer. Would you suggest we also refrain from breathing based on a minimal risk? In addition, just because a lipstick is organic and natural doesn't mean it doesn't contain chemicals that *might* cause cancer. You do realise that lead is also a natural chemical, right? Doesn't mean it's good for us to swallow. Not all natural products are healthy. Not all artificial products are unhealthy. 3. Exfoliating skins with a scrub is in no way 'gentler' to the skin than applying an acid. Using scrubs with particles in them is like sandpapering your skin. It causes minor irritations and scratches, effectively damaging your skin. While this isn't necessarily a bad thing (it's the whole point behind scrubs, acids and peels in order to make your skin renew itself), it also doesn't make it any better than a gently formulated AHA or BHA. And you should be wearing an SPF anyway whether your use an acid or a scrub. 4. *Anything* used or applied improperly can cause damage: fake nails, wigs, foundation. If you stick foundation in your eye instead of on your face it can cause eye irritation... Sheesh. Ditto for the over-exposure to the ultra-violet lamps used to fix artificial nails. Over-exposure to any kind of UV can increase your risk of skin cancer. Are you also suggesting we should stop going outside? Because that increases our risk too. Please stop using half-baked unscientific notions to promote health scares. There are enough genuine concerns with unhealthy cosmetics that we don't need to add to them with badly-thought-through unresearched ones.'

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  • hannah_mc 'Many thanks for your feedback, the editorial team will take a look at your comments.'

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