The dangers of beauty

Kanisa George -
Kanisa George -


At least once a month, more than a handful of women sit for hours on end at their favourite nail tech, hairdresser or aesthetician, deciding on colour, shape and whether they could afford a vajacial. The options are endless, and when executed perfectly, the result can be astonishing. With ombré-coloured coffin nails, we are transformed into confident vixens and waxed “you know what” brings a certain va-va-voom to intimate engagements. When we bat our medium-length eyelashes and flaunt beautifully-arched eyebrows, do we stop to think about the adverse effects our monthly glam routine has on our bodies?

Gel and acrylic nails are a must-have for some women. This indulgence is so essential that they are sometimes willing to pay big money to get their nails done, at the expense of their health.

While we sit comfortably scrolling through Instagram, discussing the latest gossip, our nail tech applies acrylic powder that exposes us to noxious chemicals. We ignore the scent of potentially harmful fumes and focus our attention on how much extra we’re willing to pay for embellishments.

The main chemical offenders are resins and formaldehyde, and they both have been shown to cause cancer. Studies show that exposure to these chemicals through your nails over a long time can result in complete nail loss by destroying the nail matrix. Because acrylics dry out your nail’s natural oils, long term wear can cause damage and splitting, and the potential for infection and nail loss increases.

We are so oblivious to what goes on when we get pampered that some of us would be surprised to learn that some nail salons use methyl methacrylate (MMA), a poisonous and illegal substance, in their nail adhesives. Studies reveal that this could cause severe damage to the lungs and permanent damage to natural nails.

Carnival fetes and date nights would be nothing without flamboyant eyelashes. They add flair and drama to every look and, unfortunately, create the perfect environment for infections. Infections can occur when bacteria collect under the eyelash glue and on the false eyelash itself. Experts warn that if you store and reuse your false lashes or drop your eyelash onto a surface before applying, there is a risk of harmful bacteria and dirt entering the eye. The risk of corneal injury is even more concerning when small objects like glue particles fall into the eye and scratch the cornea.

One beauty blogger advised that the best solution to avoid eye problems associated with fake eyelashes is to limit the amount of glue used, avoid using glue with formaldehyde, and cleaning the eyelid after removing the lashes.

Waxing has become synonymous with the modern woman, so much that hair removal is a multimillion-dollar industry.

Being hairless down there provides a sense of freedom for most women, and our partners generally appreciate the gesture. As much as we love a well-groomed vagina, studies show that being hairless down there could make you more susceptible to specific health conditions. Naturally, pubic hair act as a natural shield against many bacteria and fungi, and because skin-to-skin contact during sexual intercourse may cause rashes or irritation, your pubic hair can protect your sensitive skin from being hurt.

However, suppose proper methodology and hygiene practices aren’t used; waxing can peel off the skin, leaving the area exposed to bacteria and increase the risk of various skin infections such as staph and folliculitis.

One article outlined that waxing your pubic hair can thin out the skin membrane and cause tiny tears. Through these small tears, bacteria and viruses may enter your body and increase your risk of getting sexually-transmitted infections.

Best advice for waxing? Schedule your bikini wax appointment five days before or after your period as your pubic area is sensitive during this time and exfoliate using a mild scrub before waxing to remove dead cells and prevent hair ingrowths.

Most tools of the trade are used and reused on you, me and all and sundry. And when we arrive for our appointment, makeup brushes and nail files are ready to go. But, have you ever thought about how often, if at all, these items are cleaned? Pay attention to your beautician. Are things being sanitised after use? Where are brushes stored, and are hygiene practices being used?

Women would go to the ends of the earth to achieve the perfect look. And even as I type this piece with too long to manage nails, I am in awe at the beauty and confidence they sometimes afford me and forget the risk involved. With this in mind, women need to put their health and wellness first even when trying to achieve the perfect glam look.


"The dangers of beauty"

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