Beware of harmful beauty treatments

Posted on Monday, August 17, 2015

Some women (and men) will take expensive measures to look their best, from waxing to electrolysis to Botox and fillers. While being pulled and prodded in the pursuit of beauty might be something we have learnt to grin and bear, sometimes the discomfort should sound alarm bells.

In fact, many common beauty treatments are harmful to your health especially those that offer lasting change. It's never worth doing yourself damage while trying to look good, so we've listed the leading harmful beauty treatments so that you know which ones to steer clear of.

Scorching sun beds
Just because they're not the sun doesn't mean that they're not harming your skin. The process of burning your skin until it turns brown is harmful whether you're doing it naturally or on a sun bed. Both tans are the result of UV rays that can cause skin cancer. And, in the long-term, exposure to these rays in the sun or on sun beds will leave your skin leathery and wrinkled.

The solution: Accept that social conditioning has led you to believe that tans are healthy. Try to think of undamaged skin as beautiful instead. If that doesn't work for you, acknowledge the risks associated with damaging your skin and opt for a fake tanning product instead.

Painful peels
Chemical peels can provide an almost magical improvement to the surface of your skin and there's no harm in that if they are applied infrequently by a professional beautician or dermatologist. However, using home kits and performing chemical peels more often than once a month can lead to thinning, damaged, pigmented skin.

Chemical peels work by stripping away the top layer of dead cells, which sounds like a good thing, but this layer is actually your first barrier against pollutants and infection. Stripping it away too often can cause permanent damage to the skin beneath.

The solution: Have occasional peels under the guidance of a professional skin care practitioner. The rest of the time, a daily combination of cleanser, toner and moisturiser, with a weekly exfoliation should keep your skin glowing.

Be wary of whitening
Who doesn't want a mouth full of glowing pearly whites? But the pursuit of the perfect smile can often lead to sensitivity and damage to your teeth and gums. Peroxide is the most common teeth-whitening agent and it is a corrosive substance. Applying it in too high a concentration or too frequently can damage your enamel and inflame your gums.

The solution: Again, it's a good idea to only have your teeth whitened under the supervision of a dental professional. Good dental hygiene and cutting back on dark beverages will also prevent teeth stains in the first place.

Brazilian blow-dries
These days women are clamouring for straightening products that leave them with permanent needle straight locks. But the active ingredient in the Brazilian Blow Outs that have taken the world by storm is formaldehyde a toxic and volatile substance that can be extremely harmful to human health.

Germany, France and Ireland have set the maximum percentage at which it can be used in beauty treatments at 0,2%, but studies have shown that many manufacturers flout these regulations. Generally speaking, it's best to avoid products containing any of this chemical at all. There are a number of these straightening products out there opt for one of these.

The solution: Although it's not particularly good for your hair, daily blow-drying is far less detrimental to your overall health. Or speak to your hairdresser about styles and products that enhance more of your hair's natural bounce and life.

Nasty nail treatments
We suspect you're not going to be happy with this one. Gel manicures, which promise the durability of false nails but are painted on to your actual nails, are hardened into place using an unregulated UV light. If you remember the first point about sun beds, you'll understand why this is a bad thing. Essentially, you're increasing your risk of skin cancer and while you might have stunning nails that last for weeks your hands will grow brown and aged in the years to come.

The gel manicure also needs to be removed by soaking your hands in an acetone bath, which causes your nails to thin and your skin to dry out. The solution: Go back to the old polish-and-wave-your-hands-until-they're-dry approach. Also, give your nails a break from any kind of treatment at all from time to time to give them the chance to breathe.

Too good to be true
If you feel that you can't give up any of these beauty routines, remember that you are opening yourself up to long-term health complications. It's important to remember that true beauty comes from within, so hurting your body to achieve a lasting but superficial improvement is a kind of madness. Rather stick to natural and gentle beauty products and processes and leave the science in the laboratories.

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