51 AMAZING HEALTH AND BEAUTY HACKS
Unsafe At The Salon
Ahh, a day at the salon—what’s not to like? After all, you get blissfully pampered, perfectly preened, and come out looking like a million bucks. It’s a beautiful thing, really. Except when it’s not. A recent rise of scary health risks associated with popular treatments means you may need to start taking caution at the salon. Here’s what could be risking your health, and what to do instead.
Many a frizzy-haired woman welcomed the Brazilian Blowout with open arms. The treatment, which requires flat ironing a solution onto the hair, leaves even the most wild of manes shiny, soft, and frizz-free for months at a time.
The problem:The Brazilian contains high levels of formaldehyde—almost 12 percent according to lab results—and produces noxious fumes. Formaldehyde is a recognized carcinogen by the US Department of Health and Human Services and other government agencies. What’s more: Mounting evidence suggests that repeat treatments can cause severe scalp irritation, and even hair loss.
Once word got out about the dangers, one company that makes the popular treatment began marketing a “formaldehyde-free” formulation—only to be caught and fined by the state of California for false advertising. The company is paying close to million in damages.
Get Pretty Feet—Naturally!
The alternative:While the foamy feeling of conventional cleansers may feel like a good thing, they can strip away the hair’s natural oils that are there to protect it in the first place. The result: Breakage, frizz, and flyaways that the Brazilian “fixes” (in the short-term).
Some women with coarse, dry hair have found that cutting out shampoo altogether improves their hair's health. A great flat iron can also give you the sleek look you’re after—sans the formaldehyde. If you hair’s more on the oily and fine side, opt for a natural shampoo and work on reducing the number of times you shampoo a week (you can use a natural dry shampoo in between washings).
Someone should tell Snooki: Spray tans are a big health no-no. Interestingly, the ingredient that “tans” skin, called dihydroxyacetone (DHA), is a non-toxic simple sugar that interacts with the top layer of skin to give it that not-quite-from-the-sun glow. It’s thespraypart you should worry about.
The problem:The FDA has warned against inhaling DHA, something that isn’t exactly easy to avoid when getting a spray tan. Furthermore, sprays are also loaded with synthetic dyes and fragrances, which you’re at risk of breathing in—and absorbing through your skin.
The alternative:Use a tanning lotion (and not a spray) like Chocolate Sun and Lavera, both of which contain largely organic ingredients and no dyes or synthetic fragrances. Even better? No orange streaks.
Quick drying, chip-free, and with a perfect glean, gel manicures are growing in popularity. It offers a more natural look than acrylics, and also lets you grow your real nails underneath.
The problem:Gel manicures are touted as being safer than acrylics, but the jury is still out on that since there’s no hard data supporting the claim. And then there are the UV lamps. Gels require UV light in order to set, which means about ten minutes under the lamps every time you have your gels done—or about every two weeks for regulars. Artificial UV light is known to contribute to the risk of skin cancer, and one 2009 study in theArchives of Dermatologyreported that two women developed skin cancer on their hands after repeat exposure to UV lamps.
The alternative:If you’re dead set on gel manicures, use a zinc or titanium based sunscreen before going under the lamp, says Mary Sheu, MD, assistant professor of dermatology at Johns Hopkins. And save the gels for special occasions (nope, just because it’s Saturday doesn’t count).
An even safer idea is buffing. The technique uses a tool that looks like a nail file to shine the nail, almost like you would your shoes. Buffing leaves the nails with a beautiful sheen, not totally unlike the look of gels. Plus, it creates circulation in the nail bed, which may help strengthen the nail.
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